Friday, August 11, 2017

Vickers Wellington Mk X of No. 300 Squadron (Polish) RAF

The Matchbox kit is an original from what I believe to be 1979 that I purchased for the decals that were used in a previous build: http://cocktailtriviaandnarrowfocus.blogspot.com/2014/03/vickers-wellington-mark-x-he239-na-y-of.html. However, I do like the Wellington quite a bit, and I decided to have a go at the kit, despite the age and some inaccuracies, most notably that the wings are mounted a bit too far forward on the fuselage. The kit is easy to build, the geodetic structure is very well represented on the wings and tail, and the finished kit looks like a Wellington. For once, I built a model in flight, and the propeller blades were replaced by transparent plastic to represent rotation. I even used the original stand, although it had to be mounted at the kit’s center of balance. A more comprehensive review can be found here: http://www.oocities.org/capecanaveral/4676/wellington.htm

This particular aircraft, BH-E (HF598), is wearing the markings it carried when based at RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire, in March 1943. HF598 unfortunately didn't survive the war. At 11.00 on December 19, 1943, the aircraft took off from RAF Ingham in Lincolnshire for an air test. The aircraft crashed eleven minutes later approximately one mile southeast of Hackthorn. The two pilots, F/O Jan Andrzej Ochedzan, age 27, and Sgt Feliks Antoni Bluj, age 21, were both killed. They are buried in Newark-upon-Trent cemetery (http://aircrewremembered.com/ochedzan-jan.html).

Even before the outbreak off WW2, Poland and Great Britain had formed an alliance in case war erupted with Germany. An appendix within the agreement allowed for two Polish bomber squadrons to be formed in the United Kingdom in the case of war.

However, following the German and Soviet invasions of Poland, several Polish units were created in France, and most airmen escaping west joined these units. It was only after the fall of France that Polish airmen started to arrive in numbers to Great Britain to join the Royal Air Force. Following their arrival, Polish air personnel occupied a military camp in Eastchurch. Despite the fact that many Polish aviators had combat experience, general wariness from the RAF and lingual issues made the integration of the Poles into the RAF a fairly difficult issue, as this excellent dramatized documentary about Polish fighter pilots of No. 303 Squadron shows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptijNcDanVw

On July 1, 1940, No. 300 Squadron Land of Masovia (Polish: 300 Dywizjon Bombowy "Ziemi Mazowieckiej") was created as the very first RAF unit manned by Poles, and it was based at RAF Bramcote in Warwickshire as part of the Polish Air Forces in Great Britain. Oddly enough, most of the original crews had served in Polish fighter units. In addition to the Polish crews, several British advisers were attached to the unit as well as a British adjutant, a few technical specialists and some clerical staff. No. 300 Squadron was originally part of No. 6 (Training) Group, and it became fully operational as part of No. 1 Bomber Group in August of 1940. The first mission was flown by three Fairey Battles against German shipping in Boulogne harbor between September 14 and 15.

As there were several Polish air crew already in Great Britain, additional Polish bomber squadrons were formed on July 24. No. 300 Squadron was initially equipped with the Fairey Battle light bomber, and from November 16, 1940, with Vickers Wellingtons, ranging from the Mk. IC, III, IV and finally the Mk. X. On March 5, 1944, the unit was re-equipped with Avro Lancasters.

No. 300 Squadron took part in several of the notable missions and air campaigns on the Western Front, starting with the Battle of the Barges aimed at landing craft and other naval assets assembled for Operation Seelöwe, the planned German invasion of England. The squadron also attacked the German heavy cruiser Gneisenau in Brest as well as the U-boat pens in St. Nazaire. Other missions included the Millennium offensive against Cologne, the bombing of Hamburg (Operation Gomorrah), the Battle of Berlin, D-Day, the bombing of the V-weapon sights in 1944, and supporting the crossing of the Rhine. The last mission for No. 300 Squadron was flown against Hitler's residence in Berchtesgaden in southern Germany by 14 Lancasters on April 25, 1945, although the squadron continued flying missions to drop in all 152 tons of supplies to the famished Dutch population as part of Operation Manna up to May 7. After V-E Day No. 300 Squadron took part in Operation Exodus, the repatriation of British prisoners of war, as well as Operation Dodge, the transportation of British troops to Great Britain and finally in missions to fly Red Cross supplies to liberated Poles in German concentration camps.

The squadron logged 3,684 operational sorties and dropped nearly 10,000 tons of bombs as well as 1,400 mines over the course of two and a half years. It attacked 133 cities and other targets, and 107 decorations were awarded: one OBE, one BEM. one DSO, 63 DFCs, one DCM, one GCM, one MM and 37 DFMs. The squadron was disbanded on January 2, 1947, as the western Allies withdrew their support for the non-Communist Polish government in exile.

Commanders
Period
Commanding Officer
Notes
1 July 1940
Lt.Col. engineer pilot Wacław Makowski
with W/Cdr K. P. Lewis as a British supervisor
18 July 1941
Mjr pilot Stanisław Cwynar
27 January 1942
Mjr pilot Romuald Suliński
1 August 1942
Since 9 July a c/o commander
31 October 1942
Mjr pilot Adam Kropiński
4 May 1943
18 November 1943
Mjr pilot Kazimierz Kuzian
18 January 1944
Mjr pilot Adam Kowalczyk
1 April 1944
Mjr pilot Teofil Pożyczka
2 February 1945
17 September 1945
Mjr pilot Romuald Suliński
22 February 1946
Until the dissolution of the unit after the Allies withdrew their support for the Polish government.

Bases
Period
Airlield
1 July 1940
22 August 1940
18 July 1941
18 May 1942
31 January 1943
Hemswell
22 June 1943
Ingham
1 March 1944
(Wikipedia)
The box of the kit (front and back)



No. 300 Squadron insignia



























Sunday, July 2, 2017

Supermarine Spitfire Mk I X4474, a Heller kit

Last year I picked up a perfectly vanilla old kit of a Spitfire Mk I, and it was assembled as a nice litte weekend build. The Heller kit, rivets, raised panel lines and all, was an easy build, and even the decals worked reasonably well. The decals were for Spitfire X4474 QV-I, a late production Mk. I that initially flew on September 16, 1940, and during the Battle of Britain it was part of No. 19 Squadron at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, and piloted by Sergeant B. J. Jennings. X4474 survived the Battle of Britain, and it went on to No. 7 Operational Training Unit (OTU), No. 602 Squadron, 610 Squadron, 53 OTU, and finally Air Service Training Hamble School of Technical Training before being scrapped in 1947.

The pilot, Bernard James Jennings was born on 21st March 1915 and joined the RAF as an Aircrafthand on 1st May 1933. He joined No. 19 Squadron on September 4, 1939 after initially serving in the parachute flight before completing his pilot training in 1937-38. Jennings' first claim was a share in a probable Dornier 17 over Dunkirk on May 27, 1940. This was followed by two Me 110s on June 1 and a damaged Dornier 215 on a later patrol. He further claimed a Me 110 destroyed and a He111 probably destroyed on September 11 and a Me 109 destroyed on the September 29.
Jennings was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), which was gazetted on April 4, 1941. He served in training units between April 12, 1941 and August 1944, when he returned to operations with 168 Squadron, a reconnaissance unit that flew Mustangs and later on Typhoons. Jennings was appointed CO of 85 GSU Ferry Flight in February 1945, and he retired from the RAF on March 21, 1962 with the rank of Wing Commander. B. J. Jennings passed away in 2000.


Sources:
bbm.org.uk/airmen/Jennings.htm
iwm.org.uk









Armourer Fred Roberts re-arms Supermarine Spitfire Mark IA, X4474 'QV-I', of No. 19 Squadron RAF at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, while the pilot, Sergeant B J Jennings, has a word with his mechanic. Manor Farm can be seen in the background.

B. J. Jennings

 X4474 at speed. The absence of a triangular prong on the rear of the mast indicates that VHF radio was fitted. The voltage regulator can be seen under the rear transparency.

On the ground but with the engine running.