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david leigh-smith
283 articles

On This Day…May 25th.

Nice set of references for weathering.

Spitfire MkVb of RAF 222 Squadron (ZD-H) named ‘Flying Scotsman' In Essex, England, 25th of May, 1942.

Pilot, South African Flight Lieutenant Laurie, is a flier of the 222 Squadron (Natal).

A Whitley Bomber demonstrates a parachute jump for the King of England near Windsor, May 25th, 1941.

I AK752 is shown at RCAF Station Rockliffe in this photo dated May 25th, 1942.

This was built as a Kittyhawk I for the RAF. It was purchased by the British Purchasing
Commission and did not fall under any Lend-Lease agreement and therefore had no U.S. Army serial number. It was allocated the RAF serial AK752 but was handed over to the Canadians and eventually given the RCAF serial 1028. She served with 132(F) and 133(F) Squadrons in defence of Canada's West Coast and is said to have shot down two Japanese bomb balloons (see previous ‘OTD...' episodes).

In 1947 she was acquired by a farmer in Alberta and used as a parts bin before being buried in 1952, spending the next twenty-three years thirteen feet below the ground. In 1975 she was found and excavation started with the rusted exhausts, which, because they reminded the workers of dinosaur bones, led to the Kittyhawk being christened, ‘Curtissaurus' Rex,' (oh, what a nameplate for a diorama...). Over the course of thirteen years AK752 was restored back to flying condition by Steve Seghetti in California and Col Pay in Australia.

Her current owner, James E. Smith of Fortine, Montana, obtained the Kitty in 1994 and is today one of many aircraft in Mr. Smith's Stonehenge Air Museum, which is part of Crystal Lakes Resort, Montana, US.

US soldiers exploring a Demag factory assembled Panther of 1.Pz Rgt. 4 in Lazio province, Italy, may 25th, 1944.

Battleship Haruna undergoing post-conversion trials, 25 May 1928. The haunt was to undergo several upgrades before becoming a significant presence for the IJN in WWII.

French troops and H35 tanks advancing through a blitzkrieg torn village during the invasion of France, 25th of May, 1940.

USS (CV-63) and other American warships at U.S Fleet Activities Yokosuka naval base, Japan, 25th May 2006.

On Friday 25th May 1917 a flight of 23 Gotha bombers set out for a raid on London. Two of the attackers had to turn back on route and when the remaining 21 reached London it was covered by a thick layer of cloud. The aircraft turned south into Kent looking for targets of opportunity. They shed their bombs in a course of death and destruction reaching to the English coast.

The final target was Folkestone, where the Gothas dropped 40 bombs, where the worst damage was in Tontine Street. At 6.22pm just one single bomb fell right outside ‘Stokes Brother′s Greengrocers' where true to very English form, a queue had formed after a fresh delivery of potatoes.

Appropriately enough as we approach D-Day, a gorgeously shot photo of the British Supermarine Spitfire, with U.S P51 at Duxford Airshow, England, 25th May 2014.

Above, the often photographed Messerschmitt Bf 109E1 (of 5.JG52) ‘Red 13' piloted by Albert Griener and force landed in Rehlingen, Germany, on 25th May 1940.
Albert Griener early 1940.

Below are some more photos of this Emil.

May 25th, 1944, and in the Burmese jungle the ‘Chindit's 111 Brigade' clung to a stronghold (‘Blackpool') where 2000 men were isolated and had been under attack for days from a stronger and better equipped Japanese Force. The Chindits were a special forces unit, trained to drop behind enemy lines and disrupt and destroy enemy lines while being supplied themselves by air drops. However, Japanese Anti-Aircraft guns made re-supply to 111 Brigade virtually impossible.

John Masters, Brigadier, had sent several ‘Most Immediate' messages requesting permission to withdraw but had no reply. The Chindit units worked under a strict protocol of no action unless sanctioned. Masters reached a unilateral decision that would invite court-martial and ordered a strategic retreat, knowing that doing nothing would be certain death fit his entire unit.

The horrors of war is an almost constant theme in this series, but Masters faced a new depth in terms of agonising decisions; what to do with his soldiers who were so injured they were essentially being given palliative care.

These were strong men who, when suffering from dysentery would march naked through the jungle, men who were trained in resilience to torture and were used to hard life and death decision making. However, on that May 25th day, Masters made a heartbreaking choice to euthanise his mortally injured soldiers. Unusually, given the obfuscation that often surrounds such events, he had the courage to write about it afterward.

Decency forbids that I replicate almost any of Masters' description of that experience, but on this memorial weekend, for modelers especially given that 90% of our subject matter relates to war, I think it is important to reflect on the nature of sacrifice, responsibility, and duty.

Above, a British signaller in Aquino, Italy, May 25th, 1945. Photo below is house to house clearing, same day, same town.

25th of May, 1944 - outside Piedimonte, San Germano (Italy), an M10 Tank Destroyer keeps watch on the Italian countryside.

25th of May, 1944. England. An Australian Spitfire Squadron is briefed before a mission.

Best I can tell, these are of the RAAF Squadron 453. Any further thoughts welcome.

Nice aerial photograph of Wake Island taken from a on 25th May 1941, looking west along the northern side.

Beaufighters of 252 RAF Squadron, attacking at the harbour of Preveza, Greece, May 25th, 1943. Photograph below is of a Beau from the same squadron, in Egypt, date unknown.

Reader reactions:
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21 responses

  1. I watched a documentary that basically concluded that after that raid by the Gothas in WW1, the English Royals--aka the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha--determined they had to change their family name. The result was essentially the invention of a royal brand: The House of Windsor.

    Bombs can have can chain reaction that pretty much nobody can foresee.

  2. The house of Saxe-Coburg Gotha has cast It’s influence over all of Western Europe for centuries and yes, it took a war for a change in brand in th3 UK. I am not a loyalist; my heart is with the French here, in spirit if not ‘execution’. The irony of the obsession of most of the British with the royals despite their non English heritage amuses me.

    • Well, the very notion of European royalty is a species of transparent artifice, like a stage play featuring a famous actor. The show is sold out because it's Natalie Portman or whoever playing Peter Pan, not (merely) because its Peter Pan; everyone knows it in the sense that it is an open dynamic between the actor and the audience, but the show must go on, now with the audience acting as much as the players.

      As I did my genealogical work (some of which I shared with you, David) and realized I had (way back) English royalty in my line--all the way back to Charlemagne--I was wowed. But the shine quickly wore off when I realized that 1) all the royals in Europe were linked to each other by marriage, from Scotland to the Ukraine and from Spain to Scandinavia, and 2) if you've got European blood, the chances of you not having royal ancestry is pretty slim.

      So I understand your cynicism, cousin :-).

      P.S. And by the way, my Revolutionary ancestors, fighting against Loyalists in Maryland and Virginia's Eastern Shore while waiting for the French to come through, concur with your sentiments!

      • Hello David, @davidathomas
        both of you gents... @dirtylittlefokker

        Our ancestors fought side by side at Bosworth field... and we are probably related too. Chances are some of our ancestors fought beside each other here in the US as well. If not, they were definitely on the same side. I have an ancestor named Thomas Gardner... of Massachusetts. He raised his own militia to fight the "Red Coats". It was called "Gardner's Own" and he was given the honorary rank of Colonel.
        Colonel Thomas Gardner was mortally wounded at the battle of "Breed's Hill". More commonly known as Bunker Hill. He died of his injuries the very next day on July 4th... and a certain man with the name of George Washington attended his funeral...
        To this very day the Regiment exists in the US Army. It's the oldest Infantry unit to serve our Nation.

    • and don't forget England was born of the Normans pretty much a bunch of Viking Teutonic knights from Scandinavia who settled there [Normandy] and the other part is the Saxons from Germany itself...let's just say it's in the blood...more Americans have German blood by percentage than any other also...those handsome boys get around

      • As a descendant of Rollo, I have to say I find your characterization of the Viking invaders as "knights" to be very generous! Much obliged, I'm sure...

        Oh, and the Ukrainians were Scandinavians, too...

        I remember in college during the final days of the Cold War a roomie of mine--ROTC and learning Russian for reasons you might imagine--told me he learned from a professor that the visceral fear of the Russians had nothing to do with us Americans. The ones they were terrified of were the Germans, who've had this nasty habit of wandering across the steppe whenever the wanderlust hit them. The number of casualties during WW2 in the East makes what happened in the West pale in comparison...

        • when i said viking i didn't mean the barbarians of Lindisfarne...but the vikings settled in normandy for several hundred years/ nobody messed with them and they stayed to themselves...and they became the Normans...actually Charlemagne came from that stock...i think of the ukrainians as Germans and the poles, bohemian cZechs, the swiss, half of france, all of austria and even hungry due to their hun ancestry who controlled everything from the danube to the rhine also...the vikings were all over russia for centuries until ivan the terrible threw them out...the vikings being navy and russia being riverine was a match made in heaven for the vikings...and the russians beat the Germans of that there is no doubt referring to your WW11 casualties...the viking teutonic knight correlation i was referring to was kind of the Nazi blond hair blue eyed roots thing hitler was selling

      • Which the English language is Germanic in origin. Which really is quite interesting history. All ties in from the European tribes making there way west to eventually settling in the New World.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention: cracking photos of the weathering on the Spit, especially the roundel which I think is a crucial detail--I see so many weathered airplane models but with these perfect decals...

    Also, the Beaufighter. Wow. I just have to get me one o' them...

  4. very thought provoking as usual David

  5. Love the photos of the Spitfires, both sets (color and B/W) do an excellent job of putting "they were painted with masks" into the proper circular container it belongs in. Now to nail the lid shut!

    • but was Gabby's plane silver or gray on the underside [smile]

      • Both..grey under the fuselage, wings and stabilizers natural metal.
        That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
        On the ancestral conundrum, my father insists that we have a Lord High Commoner of London in the woodpile who was beheaded for something he said. I’ve always embraced that I was descended from a line of wise a***s. Of course now he wants us to be Native American ... Well if Elizabeth Warren can be, so can we...
        There’s that smart a*s thing

    • Here we go again about the masks... give it a break dude. Will you never learn ?

      P-40 painted to British specs. Using mats. Not a Spitfire but using mats all the same...

      Here is a memo that mentions the use of mats (they call them "Masks" specifically) for use of painting Spitfires. The late Edgar Brooks uncovered them.

      note the areas highlighted in yellow.

      The wording about the "masks" is highlighted in red. Please read this...

      If these matts didn't exist, why would they be mentioned in an official document ?

      This authorized the use of "Masks", which in turn would speed up production, and ensure a more uniform final product.

      Do not confuse this with a field or depot repair. I'm saying the masks MAY or MAY NOT have been used. It all depended on the circumstances... Who cares ? Please stop spreading tales about what you can't prove.

      In the end it all boiled down to a uniform finish and minimal amount of overspray. Both can be achieved with or without the use of the "masks".

      How many times have you actually held a real life full sized one to one scale spray gun in your hand ? Me, I have done it numerous times. I have sprayed at least 50 automobiles, furniture and even full sized M-60 A1 tanks during my life.

      So I know a "little" about what I'm talking about.

      Now nail the lid shut...

  6. MMMMM...Spitfire Porn...

  7. A nice pair of P-40's too...

  8. Another great posting David... Sorry for the rant above . To quote Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as Stupid does".

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