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Terry Schuler
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Tamiya 1/48 scale Spitfire MK V, racer

March 18, 2018 · in Aviation · · 23 · 2K

This little was purchased at the end of WWII by co-owners Horace Hopkins and Copper W. Danielson (C.W.) , and flew out of the Bernard airport in Beaverton Oregon. Originally used as a motion picture prop is was soon modified to compete in the Bendix transcontinental air race in 1948. Not having the range of the P-51s during the race, it simply lost too much time on the extra fuel stop needed, although the speed increase was reportedly capable enough to keep up with the top aircraft.
It was later scheduled to race at Cleveland until those races were suspended due the 1949 crash.

The one claim to fame for "War Toy" came on an early Sunday morning in October 1958, its pilot (unknown) decided to take it for a joy ride into downtown Portland Oregon. Flying down the Willamette river at high speed and traveling north under the bridges then turning into town flying between buildings at tree top level, (the sound of that Merlin engine echoing off the buildings must have been heavenly to us airplane guys).
The stunt would have probably remained quiet and untold except for reports of the incident were quickly relayed to the Oregon Air National Guard who just happen to be flying two F-89s nearby and were sent to intercept.

The chase began near the merge of the WIllamette and Columbia rivers, north of Portland. The Spitfire, unable to out run the ANG jets, turned south and dove for the deck back toward Portland. While the ANG were deciding what they could do, including if they should shoot down the Spitfire (especially with the battle of Palmdale incident still on their minds), the Spitfire dove under the bridges again and back into the city, causing the ANG pilots to lost contact.
After making a wide sweep the ANG F-89s regrouped at about 5000 ft, flying south over the WIllamette river, when suddenly they notice the Spitfire come up behind them, and to be last seen, wag his wings and dive out of sight.
Investigators did not have an actual identification on the aircraft involved but had a good idea of who it was based on the fact "War Toy"was the only Spitfire known to be in the area. Also adding to the mystery, the airplane was never seen again, or was it ?
Rumor has it that in the movie Battle of Britian there is a Spitfire with this same distictive antenna configuration and similiar engine modifications, hmmm !

Horace Hopkins retired from flying after that and moved to a warmer climate, however CW, who's real name was Cooper William Danielson vanished in 1971, after calling his family and saying he'd be home for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm sure its only a coincident that if you reverse his name, you come up with Danielson WIlliam Cooper, however if you substitute Bill for William then use the first two letters of the name you go from Danielson Bill Cooper, to D.B COOPER ! Weird huh, or should I say just as weird as a Spitfire disapearing in a big city !

I hope you enjoyed the story of "War Toy", of course the model is as fiction as the story, but imagination is all part of the fun in model building, wouldn't you agree ?

Reader reactions:
8  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

23 responses

  1. Beautiful Spit and what a story, thanks for posting this bird Terry!

  2. Terry, what a great looking model!

  3. Great Spitfire and a fun story ! You had me hook, line, and sinker. If you hadn't said it was fiction, I'd have believed this account. Well done on both the model AND the story.


    • Thanks Jeff, Glad enjoyed it. I decided I'd better disclose the fact that it was fiction, as I didn't want my model friends spending hours trying to look it up !,

  4. What a post, Terry. You give us a great (and unusual) model, took us on a little journey, gave us some action, added some human interest, then threw us all a curveball. Brilliant, all round.

    You really made my Sunday morning.

    • Thanks David, I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I gave this a lot of thought before posting it, and almost didn't. Then if I was going to mention it was fiction or not. In the end I just couldn't leave everybody hanging, or maybe I was just a little worried that the FBI would come knocking on my door, thinking I knew something about DB they didn't.

  5. Well done Terry, your writing skills are quite exceptional and your Spit as well.

  6. Nice one, Terry

  7. Beautifully built Spit, my friend (and accompanying 'narrative' - thanks. 🙂

  8. Profile Photo
    said on March 18, 2018

    Nice one Terry.

  9. Beautiful look, awesome build. love the subtle camo

  10. Beautiful build. Knowing the topography of that area fairly well the story comes to life. Are you a Portlandite, Terry?

    • David, Thanks for the comments, and to answer your question, I am an native Oregonian, but I am not from Portland (or as we natives reply, "The peoples republic of Portland). If you too are from here or at least know the area, you'd find their a lot of interesting and almost comical stories from the past, that almost makes this little Spitfire story that much more believable.

  11. Nice build, and story.

  12. A good imagination. You almost had me, up to the end. Excellent!

  13. Terry,
    Love the model. Your usual outstanding work. Absolutely loved the story and the DBC side note. Considering how DB left that airliner he must have had some aviation knowledge. It would be almost impossible and even stupid to se a parachute like he did and out the back ramp. Romantics always hope he survived and is spending the money wisely

  14. A ripping yarn. I like those colours

  15. The Spit looks marvelous in those colors, and I was totally bought-in on the had me!

  16. Absolutely great story - I believed all words till the end! Your Spit also stunning - I wonder how many Spitfire actually got into private hands after the war.

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