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Dpgsbody55

Spitfire Mk XVI, SL721

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Posted (edited)

Here is my latest build, a MkXVI Spitfire, by Tamiya, which I built as my contribution to the Colour My World Blue group build.  It represent Spitfire SL721 which became the personal plane of Air Chief Marshall Sir James Robb, from 1946 to 1951.  As you can read below, this plane has had a very long career, and she still flies.   You can find the full build detailed here:  https://forum.largescaleplanes.com/index.php?showtopic=72233

 

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Spitfire SL721 never flew in WW2, as it was delivered new to No.6 Maintenance Unit of 27th August 1945.  From there, it went to the Fighter Command Communications Squadron in October 1946, then later that month it went on to the Meteoroligical Flight for use by Sir James Robb, who at that time was Commander in Chief of RAF Fighter Command.  Soon afterwards, it was sent back to Vickers Supermarine for refitting.  All armament was removed, and the gun bays converted to luggage lockers.  The gun sight was also removed, as was the rear fuselage fuel tank, and much of the remainder of it's military equipment.  It was also painted in  RAF Scheme D Light PRU Blue as seen here.  In this form, the plane was a dream to fly as it's performance was very much enhanced by the removal of so much weight.

 

The plane was used by Air Marshall Robb to tour the various bases in Great Britain.  It also appeared in a few races, including the Kings Cup.  In June 1948, it was involved in a landing accident.  The pilot on this occasion was AVM Sir John Boothman, who was also the pilot who took the Schnieder Trophy in 1931.  SL721 was sent back to it's manufacturer's for repair, this time being repainted in RAF Scheme D PRU dark blue.  The plane went back to the 31 Squadron RAF (nominally) for Sir James Robb's continued use, who by now was Commander In Chief, Airforces Europe, until her retired in August 1951. 

 

Sir James handed over his plane to the commanding officer of the Central Flying School at Little Rissington until in late 1954, despite many objections from the CFS staff, the plane was ordered to be scrapped.  While awaiting it's fate at RAF Lyneham, it was spotted by an automotive garage owner who purchased it for 120 pounds for display on his forecourt at Swandean  It was well looked after here, and the engine was stared regularly to keep it in reasonable fettle.

 

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Three years later, the plane was moved to Lord Montagu's estate for display, where it appears to have stayed, in the open, until 1966.  It seems to have been traded multiple times in a very short time span, without actually being moved, firstly for 2000 pounds, then 3000GBP, then 4000GBP.  Finally in 1967, it made it's way to the United States, by now being owned by William "Bill" Ross, a Chicago businessman and aircraft collector.  Ross had the plane refurbished in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was now painted in a glossy green/brown camouflage with azure blue undersides, but still wearing JM-R as squadron codes.  SL721 spent some years now on the display circuit in the US, often flown by legendary warbird pilot Jerry Billing.  Some time in 1972, the plane was sold to Englishman Doug Arnold, and shipped back to the UK.  He repainted the  squadron codes with his initials D-A.  Again, the plane appeared at air displays until it was sold again in 1978 to Woodson K Woods of Chino, California.  Here, Woods repainted SL721 in a more accurate green/grey camouflage and again refurbished the plane.  It now wore the squadron codes WK-W and again flew on the display circuit.  It also appeared at Reno in 1981, in mock combat with a Hispano ME109 "Buchon", where SL721 achieved her first "kill", shooting down the Buchon in mock combat.

 

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Woodson loaned SL721 to the San Diego Aerospace Museum for 7 years, starting in 1982.  On return, the plane was trucked to Colorado for a complete rebuild.  Woodson's son Chris would care for the plane for another 8 years until in late in 1998, he had the plane repainted again, this time in azure blue and in the markings of Sir James Robb.

 

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The plane was sold again in 2000 or 2001, soon after appearing again at Reno.  This time, it went to Canada and became part of the Vintage Wings of Canada collection.  Here, it was repainted in the markings of TB886, AU-J, a Spitfire XVI flown by 421 Squadron RCAF and has flown many displays in honour of fallen Canadian airmen of WW2.  It was put up for sale again in August 2017.

 

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Earlier this year, SL 721 was purchased by a Belgian consortium, and is now flying again in that country, registered as OO-XVI.  https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?145017-The-Belgians-are-with-flying-Spitfire-once-again-OO-XVI  Who knows??  Maybe SL721 will fly again in the skies over Britain.

 

 

 

Cheers,

Michael

Edited by Dpgsbody55

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Iain.  It's nice to do a Spitfire "out of uniform"  :D.  Of course it makes sense.  I used to live in the Cotswolds, so I understand the language!!!  :lol:

 

 

Cheers,

Michael

Edited by Dpgsbody55

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Thank you, gentlemen, for your kind words.  This was a very enjoyable build, perhaps more so because the plane is still flying.

 

 

Cheers,

Michael

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