92 Squadron Spitfire Mk. 1a GR-U
I built this Airfix Spit for my nephew as a Christmas present a year ago, after we watched Dunkirk in the theater. The following is from the little blurb I wrote for him, scavenging various information from the internet–I’ve left out the references here, though. My apologies if I’ve garbled anything–please feel free to correct me.
“This 1/72 Airfix model represents a Royal Air Force No. 92 Squadron Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Ia (GR-U N3290) from the Battle of Dunkirk early in World War 2. The ground crews have rearmed and refueled, wiped the tops and sides, and cleaned the canopy. They have replaced the tape over the machine gun muzzles to protect them from the muddy British fields, although they will soon enough be ripped away. F/O Gillies climbs aboard and, joining with the other members of his three-ship flight, crosses the Channel, climbing to gain advantage. It’s 1940, and much of the British army is stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, suffering bombardment from above. If they cannot be saved, Britain will probably be overwhelmed by Germany.
“The Spitfire was a favored mount of British fighter pilots throughout the war, although as the Germans fielded more capable aircraft, the Mk. Ia was hurriedly replaced with newly developed Spitfire marks in the see-saw air battles. The planes of this early mark were powered by Rolls Royce Merlin engines. The RR Merlin III was able to deliver 1030 hp normally and 1300 hp at 9000 ft under “emergency boost,” which allowed speeds of up to almost 380 mph. The engine turned a 350 lb, three-bladed de Havilland propeller of nearly 10 feet diameter. The service ceiling was 31,900 feet. Eight .303 machine guns, four in each wing, provided the ship’s armament.
“No. 92 Squadron, first formed in WW 1, saw first action in the second worldwide conflagration in May 1940, when they were called to protect the Dunkirk beaches from enemy air attack. Often, the air battles took place over France’s interior so that the enemy should be kept well away from the hundreds of thousands of trapped British and French troops waiting rescue. This brought bitter sentiments against the RAF and its young pilots at home, as some rescued soldiers and public initially thought the RAF had shied away and abandoned them.
“During the battle, No. 92 Squadron, which was among the first to receive Spitfires, flew from RAF Croydon’s grass fields (grass landing surfaces with 22 hardstands).
“During the time of Dunkirk, the squadron’s aircraft carried fuselage code GR. The model is of airframe N3290, coded GR-U.
“F/O John Gillies brought the fight to the enemy at the controls of N3290 on 23 May 1940. On their evening patrol over Dunkirk, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, Paul Klipsch, and Gillies spied enemy bombers strongly defended by Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. On charging into battle, Bushell was credited with two German Bf-110 heavy fighters, but all three Brits were then shot down. Klipsch, on his first mission, was killed, whilst the other two crashed in occupied France and were taken prisoner.
“Luftwaffe Uffz. Karl Huber of 6./ZG76, may have claimed N3290. That geschwader flew the “destroyer” Bf-110 heavy fighters.
“Among fifty fellow British PoWs, Bushell was murdered by the Gestapo on personal orders from Adolf Hitler in 1944 following the mass escape from Stalag Luft III (dramatized in the film The Great Escape); British officers saw escape as their duty and repeatedly tried to do so. Gillies endured the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft Sagan, PoW No. 626.
“After Dunkirk, 92 Squadron repositioned to RAF Biggen Hill, and they were the first in action against the Germans in the Battle of Britain that summer (of 1940). After the fierce air war of the Battle of Britain, the stuff of Churchill’s famous speech during the heat of that battle, in which he uttered “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” Hitler’s hopes of invading Britain crumbled, and five terrible years later, the Nazi tyranny was snuffed from the Earth.
“No. 92 Squadron flew Spitfires for the duration. The squadron was disbanded in 1946 in occupied Austria. It was the highest scoring RAF squadron of the war, responsible for 317 victories.
“The brave RAF pilots who fought over Dunkirk in spring 1940 greatly aided in the rescue of more than 330,000 Allied troops and helped save the free Western world, as among those they protected were the vast bulk of the British Army and future fighters of the French Resistance.”
I weathered the bottom especially heavily, rationalizing that maintenance crews were kind of busy and that the splashing about on the grass fields might have left the underbelly a bit grungy on takeoff. I was after a ‘cinematic’ look, because my nephew is a big film fan.
4 additional images. Click to enlarge.