'STICK TO ME LIKE GLUE, AND KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN'
Scale Aircraft Modelling|November 2020
Bill Newton describes building 1/48 models of the real stars of the classic 1969 film ‘Battle of Britain’
Bill Newton

This project originally began aspart of a themed display‘Movies in Miniature’, for my then local IPMS Branch, Coventry and Warwickshire. This was to be for the 1995 ScaleModelWorld Show, in its last year at Donnington before moving to Telford. It was a simple representation of a Battle of Britain period Spitfire and Bf 109 from the eponymous film on a graphic base. The models were a Spitfire PR XIX in the guise of an RAF Spitfire Mk I and a HA-1112M1L Buchón, representing a Messerschmitt Bf 109E.

Over the next couple of decades, I expanded the collection and all the models were displayed as a ‘Work in Progress’ at last year’s IPMS Scale Modelworld.

The completed collection would have been displayed on the Battle of Britain SIG stand at this year’s IPMS ScaleModelWorld, before it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RAF Models

The various marks of Spitfires used in the film were all meant to represent the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I.

Spitfire T9

The Spitfire T9 was an ex-Irish Air Corps machine originally built as a Mk IX, with serial number TE308. The model is based on the Hasegawa Mk IXc kit with the Brigade Models twin-cockpit fuselage conversion. Although the fuselage of the conversion is a little chunky, it is accurate in outline and once assembled really captures the lines of the T9.

Spitfire Mk IX

To replicate the aircraft used by the close-up film unit during the shooting, I used the ICM Mk IX fitted with a Hasegawa Mk IXc wing. There are plenty of references for this aircraft as it is MH434, wellknown on the airshow circuits before the making of the film. The cannon barrels and associated clearance blisters on the upper surfaces were removed. Other changes required for the closeup film scene depicted are a three-blade propeller, only fitted for this particular filming sequence and a pair of six stub ‘circular’ exhausts.

The model was intended for use in a diorama, so a pilot figure was added to represent actor Robert Shaw who played the Squadron Leader referred to only as ‘Skipper’ (RAF slang for a Commanding Officer). Also referred to by his call sign, ‘Rabbit Leader’, It is thought that Shaw’s character was inspired by Squadron Leader Adolph Gysbert Malan, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, RNR. Better known as ‘Sailor’ Malan, he was a South African ace who led 74 Squadron during the Battle and writer of ‘Ten Of My Rules For Air Fighting’, some of which Shaw recites during the film.

Spitfire PR XIX

The Spitfire PR XIX was most likely PS853, one of the two ex-THUM Flight aircraft (Temperature and Humidity Flight, RAF units, which undertook daily weather flights). With its sibling, serialled PM63, both had been kept flyable to serve in the then newly formed RAF Historic Aircraft Flight.

At the time I built my example, the only way to create this version was to use the Aeroclub vacform fuselage married to the wings from the 1970s vintage Airfix Spitfire Mk Vb. Nowadays there would be no need to tackle this conversion as a very good Spitfire PR XIX is available from Airfix.

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