US Navy Spitfire Mk.Vb at D-Day: 1/48 Eduard Spitfire Mk. Vb Weekend Kit

Started by George R Blair Jr · 191 · 2 hours ago · 1/32, D-Day, Hobby Boss, Spitfire Mk Vb, VOS-7
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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 2 weeks ago:

    I was doing some reading about D-Day a few weeks ago and came across a really cool story that I had never heard before. When I find a cool story like this, I am always afraid I am the last one at the dance, and everyone else has already heard about it. I wanted to build a model based on this story for June 6th, but I got behind on my current model. So, I am at least happy to get started on the build by June 6th.

    So, here is the story (Please ignore if you have already heard it):

    During WW2, the Navy used catapult-launched Vought OS2U Kingfishers and Curtiss SOC Seagulls as shot spotters for the battleships and cruisers. They would observe where the shells from the ships would fall and make corrections, thereby increasing the accuracy of the fire. During the invasion of Sicily, several Navy spotters became easy targets for Axis fighters. When the Navy began planning for their naval gunfire support during the landings, they decided that an alternative aircraft might be used that could fulfill their function as an artillery spotter and give their pilots a better chance if they were intercepted by Nazi fighters over the beach. This was also a popular decision among the spotter pilots who really like the idea of flying a plane that had a chance against a 109 or 190.

    The Navy secured several Spitfire Mk.Vb aircraft from the RAF. These planes were not considered frontline fighters anymore, but they would provide their pilots a better chance than in a Kingfisher or Seagull. Pilots from the battleships Arkansas, Texas, and Nevada, as well as cruisers Augusta, Tuscaloosa, and Quincy. They met on the 1st of June to establish VOS-7 (VCS-7), or Observation Squadron 7. Pilots from the USAAF 67th Reconnaissance Group taught the Naval Aviators to fly the Spitfires in just a few days. It is possible that VOS-7 was the only US squadron to fly Spitfires during WW2. These planes and pilots became part of an air spotting pool operated by the 34th Reconnaissance Wing of the RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force.

    These Naval Aviators began flying missions on 6 June. They eventually fly about 200 sorties, with 94 of these sorties flown in the first 3 days. These missions were planned to flown at 6000 feet, but many were flown at 1500 feet or less due to weather. The planes always flew in pairs, one to act as artillery spotters and one to watch for enemy aircraft. The squadron's senior aviator was killed on the first day when his plane was hit by flak, which was also responsible for most of the 8 aircraft lost to combat damage. The pilots of all 8 aircraft survived, as did the pilot of a ninth plane that was lost in a non-combat crash. Four squadron pilots survived encounters with Bf-109s and Fw-190s. The squadron was disbanded when the Allies captured the town of Cherbourg and naval gunfire support was no longer needed. It is believed that this may be the shortest lifespan for a naval squadron in history. During its 3 weeks of existence, squadron pilots were awarded 9 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 11 Air Medals.

    I thought it would be cool to create a model of one of the squadron aircraft. Their are quite a few photographs taken during the squadron's short existence. VOS-7 flew Spitfire Mk.Vb's, and I had a 1/32 Hobby Boss Mk.Vb in my stash. I also had some masks, resin bits, and other stuff for this plane. I didn't find any decal sets for these specific planes, but I should be able to cobble them together from my stash of decals. I hope to finish my current build and get started on this model by the end of the week. I think it will be a fun build.

    10 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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    Louis Gardner said 1 month, 2 weeks ago:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard of this story. It sounds very interesting and I look forward to seeing what you do next. This is going to be an epic project.

    Count me in for watching this one. Those are some great pictures too.

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 1 month, 2 weeks ago:

    Great story and awesome entry, my friend @gblair! Nice extras! Looking forward to it!

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    John vd Biggelaar said 1 month, 2 weeks ago:

    A new but definitely an interesting story to me as well, George @gblair
    Wonderful idea to perform this build with all the extras.
    Those original pictures do show clearly how dirty those aircraft could get.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Thanks, Louis (@lgardner), Spiros (@fiveten), and John (@johnb). I was amazed at how many photos you can find of a squadron that only existed for about 3 weeks. I think this will be fun. I just need to get the final F-86 done.

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    Pedro L. Rocha said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    George, your story about Naval spotter Spitfires is also new to me, and quite interesting story altogether. Hope your big size Spitfire runs smoothly on this thread

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    Louis Gardner said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Ironically enough I have a smaller 1/48 scale Spitfire Mk III made by Special Hobby in the stash. It says right on the box about it being D - Day Fleet Eyes.


    They’re calling it a Seafire but I have to check it out now and confirm that it’s got the Naval equipment on it like the arrestor hooks and such.

    I never knew about the circumstances behind it however.

    Sometimes I just can’t see the forest for all of the trees ! Duh ! 😉

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Thanks, Pedro (@holzhamer) and Louis (@lgardner): I don't build a lot of 1/32 models, but I think this will be a fun one. According to the article I read, the US Navy observers all flew Spitfire Vb's, so I am pretty sure your Seafire would have been flown by a British pilot. The American pilots were assigned to a pool of spotting planes that were also artillery spotting for the army as they moved inland. The Americans only acted as Naval spotters, and their job was done when the battleships and cruisers could no longer provide fire support. Something I noticed about all of the planes in the photos I found was they all had their ID lettering either directly below the cockpit or just forward of the cockpit. Your Seafire has similar markings. I don't recall seeing that before, so I wonder if it was a feature common to the spotters or if the ID letters were moved due to the invasion stripes?

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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    Tom Cleaver said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    For those interested, Eduard has a "D-Day" special re-release of their amazing Spitfire Vb,, with decals for all the airplanes used.

    George: The 31st and 52nd Fighter Groups flew Spitfire Vbs from their arrival in the ETO in July 1942 (they first entered combat in them for the Dieppe raid in August, where American pilots first scored against the Luftwaffe) and then in North Africa until they re-equipped with P-51s in March 1944. Also the 4th Fighter Group kept their Spitfire Vb fighters when they joined the USAAF in September 1942 from the Eagle Squadrons until they re-equipped with P-47Cs in March 1943.

    @lgardner - The two FAA squadrons assigned as shot-spotters did use the Seafire III. The Special Hobby kit is mostly accurate (a little short in the rear fuselage), and does have the tail hook and other items specific to the Seafire III.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Hi Tom (@tcinla): Thanks for the info. I knew there had been American squadrons flying Spitfires, but I wasn't sure how long they retained them.

    Hi Louis (@lgardner): A perfect fit for D-Day. I figure they were probably flown from a runway for the D-Day mission rather than a carrier.

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    Carl Smoot said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    This will be a cool build George (@gblair). I had not heard of this story either. I know it didn't happen this way, but I have visions of Spitfires mounted on a turret top catapult! 🙂 Would make a pretty cool what if.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Thanks, Carl (@clipper). I plan to start as soon as I finish my last F-86. A catapult would be cool. How about like on the merchant ships that had a catapult and a Hurricane?

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    Tom Cleaver said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    @gblair: the Spotter Spitfires flew from the FAA base at Ford, just we4st of Portsmouth.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Hi Tom (@tcinla): Portsmouth is about as close as you can get to the invasion beaches. I thought it was interesting that the Navy pilots became part of a pool of spotters/aircraft that was controlled by the RAF. From the photos, it appears that the Navy also sent ground crews to support the Navy pilots/aircraft. I have never done much reading on the use of naval spotting aircraft, but this story really caught my eye.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    I just checked out the special release by Eduard that Tom was talking about. They have just released a 1/48 Spitfire Mk.V with the decals for the exact plane I want to build. I ordered one this morning, so hopefully will have it in a week. I am considering building it instead of the 1/32 Hobby Boss that I have.