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Author Topic: JEJ's EN398 - How it actually looked.  (Read 32684 times)
Antoni
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« on: January 16, 2009, 10:42:06 PM »

EN398 was part of batch EN112 to EN759 originally ordered as Mk Vcs but built as a mixture of Mk VIIs, IXs, XIs, and XIIs by Vickers Armstrongs, delivered between November 1942 and August 1943. A relatively early Mk IXc with broad cannon blisters, “small” carburettor intake, single-angled horn-balanced elevator and standard rudder.

First issued to 402 Squadron RCAF on 18th February 1943 and initially coded AE*I, it became the regular aircraft of F/Lt Ian Keltie. In March it was recoded AE*B and the ground crew added a cartoon painting of Popeye on the port cowling side.
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Antoni
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2009, 10:43:54 PM »

On March 22nd EN398 was transferred to 416 Squadron RCAF remaining on charge until the end of the month when it was listed as part of the Kenley Station HQ Flight. Presumably this was when JEJ adopted it as his own, claiming his first kill with it on 3rd April 1943.

In early April EN398 underwent some modifications at Air Service Training, Hamble, returning to Kenley on 16th April, initially on charge with 416 Squadron and then transferred to 421 Squadron (when 421 Squadron replaced 416 Squadron). It remained JEJ’s personal aircraft until well into the summer his last claim being a Bf 109 damaged on 3rd April 1943.

According to JEJ in his book Wing Leader, EN398 was delivered to the Canadian Wing at Kenley “gleaming and bright in a new spring coat of camouflage paint.” The two photographs of EN398, taken about July 1943, show signs of some repainting and/or touching-up, possibly during its time with AST Hamble. There are two patches, one on the starboard side of the fin’s leading edge, the second on the starboard fuselage spine just behind the cockpit canopy and above the roundel. One suggestion is that it may be grey/green primer. An area under the starboard code letter ‘E’ appears to be a lighter shade of Ocean Grey, perhaps from when it was recoded. The engine cowlings appear to be freshly repainted or perhaps replacements.  The 18 inch Sky rear fuselage band does not seem to be parallel, it rear edge tapering in a little as it runs towards the underside. A red Canadian Maple leaf on a white circular background was carried on both sides of the fuselage under the windscreen. JEJ also mentioned in his book instructing his rigger “to paint the red and blue pennant of a Wing Commander on EN398.” Most commonly these pennants were painted on the port side only of the engine cowling in front of the windscreen. In EN398’s case it would be just in front of the Canadian Maple leaf badge.
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admin
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Martin W


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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 12:35:30 PM »

Thanks, Antoni. I realized that the artwork included in the recent Greycap article was, hmm, less than perfect rendition of JE-J's aircraft.
I actually went about creating a better profile. As for your mention of the red maple leaf (which would be logical), any confirmation of this colour? Most profiles, decal sheets etc. that I have come across show this in green.

Best regards,
/Martin
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Antoni
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2009, 10:44:45 PM »

Most profiles, decal sheets etc. that I have come across show this in green.

Best regards,
/Martin


I never give much credence to quantity. In my experience it is usually a case of the common practice of copying what someone else has done. Similar with decal and kit manufactures, who for the most part seem to just copy what they find in a book or magazine. I can find many examples of mistakes that are still repeated today, that date back to publications from the 1960’s. Johnson was not Canadian. Perhaps someone did not understand that this was the Canadian emblem and thought it was a clover leaf or shamrock, or maybe, because it was a leaf, made it green because leaves are green. So I would turn the question around. What evidence is there that it was green? I do know of any explanation being given.   Neil Robinson, in his article on this Spitfire, Model Aircraft Monthly Oct 2006, shows it as a red leaf and he is knowledgeable enough, I think, to have portrayed it as green if there were good reasons for thinking that it was green. But he makes no comment on the colour or indeed that it differs from the way it is commonly represented. The badge can be seen in photographs of EN398 before it was adopted by Johnson so I think we can safely assume that it is a legacy of its time with the Canadian squadrons and not added by Johnson. If someone can provide some good, credible evidence such as Keltie was of Irish descent so had a green leaf then I am prepared to change my mind. Until then I go with common sense that says it was the normal Canadian red maple leaf.

MK392 was another Mk IX flown by Johnson in 1944/45. Profiles of this Spitfire look very similar to EN398 with the letter Js with curved bottoms and the maple leaf badge. I do think there are any photographs of MK392, or they show very little of the aircraft. However, Watermark Decals have a photograph of MK392 on their instruction sheet of MK392 taken in January 1944/45.Unfortunately the webpage where the photograph could be seen appears to have been removed. Gone are the invasion stripes and the Sky fuselage band, and the spinner has been painted black. Interestingly, the,letter Js have flat bottoms, not rounded like EN398, and there are no maple leaf badges. This agrees with photographs of Johnson’s spare Spitfire, MK329 JE*J Jr which has the same shaped letter Js and no maple leaf badge. So I suspect that all these profiles are how it is imagined it looked based on the appearance of EN398. But these people never tell you it is all based on conjecture, they allow you to think it is fact.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2009, 10:48:26 PM by Antoni » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2009, 11:44:30 AM »

I agree that the red would be the most logical colour for the leaf.

As for another common practice with JE-J's aircraft. They are often depicted with a W/Cdr pennant but without any kill marks on the port side.
As far as I know, the only photos of EN398 in JE-J markings were the two of the port side. Unless JE-J had some personal preference against
showing off his tally,  which I am not aware of, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the kill marks were there?

/Martin
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Antoni
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2009, 10:16:53 PM »

We only have Johnson’s word for it that the W/Cdr pennant was on EN398 but there is no reason to doubt it. I don’t think he mentioned any kill markings.

MK329 JE*J Jr has neither the W/Cdr pennant of kill markings on the port side but by all accounts he did not fly this Spitfire very often.

The photograph of MK392 in Jan 1945 is of the port side and there are definitely no kill markings or pennant on it at that time.

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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 05:46:07 PM »

So this is what I'm getting it to. Still learning the basics of drawing, so things are taking perhaps more time and effort than they should.
Haven't decided whether to keep the kill marks or not.
How do you like it?

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Antoni
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 10:12:13 PM »

Pretty good. Matches Neil robinson's model closely.  The green on the engine cowling a darker shade perhaps? The question that never seems to have been asked is: was Popeye still there?
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WWIIColours
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« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2009, 08:22:39 PM »

About the letters code colours "JE J", the spinner and the fuselage band colour, the print artworks by known artists and the portrait in the model kit No.48061 in 1/48 appears not as Sky type S, but light grey colour. For example some Spitfire model kit manufacturer offered the letter code colour decals in Sky type S in 2000. Today the same spitfire model kit manufacturer offers now the letter code colour with another shape (I mean the JE J) in light grey colour. Is it true this?
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2009, 03:21:51 PM »

WWIIcolours,

It is just a guess based on the interpretation of the few available b/w photos, two of which have been shown in this thread. I believe that looking at these one cannot draw a conclusion that the letters were of a different colour than the sky band. But of course, there is no technical way of proving that the colour was sky and not, say, grey. I guess that the grey theory involves a bit of artistic license.

As for the shape and placement of the lettering, I believe my profiles gets pretty close to the actual thing.

/Martin
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NZTyphoon
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2009, 01:43:24 PM »

Just for interest the photo of  MK329 is in Shores and Thomas' 2 TAF Vol 4 - apparently the original photo was badly water damaged as a consequence of which the details of the individual letter and the D-Day stripes are missing. What can be seen is that the code letters are flat bottomed, as described by Antoni and appear to be serifed. They definitely look different to those on EN398.

I can still remember building Airfix's old Spitfire IX in Johnny Johnson's markings...and now I feel really old. Undecided
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marluc
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2009, 03:07:24 PM »

The green on the engine cowling a darker shade perhaps?

In my humble opinion I think that the green on the cowling is new paint,the Ocean Green besides don´t looks wheathered as the fuselage O.G.So,the engine cowling could be a replacement panel.Greetings:

Martin
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Antoni
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2009, 06:03:08 PM »

........

According to JEJ in his book Wing Leader, EN398 was delivered to the Canadian Wing at Kenley “gleaming and bright in a new spring coat of camouflage paint.” The two photographs of EN398, taken about July 1943, show signs of some repainting and/or touching-up, possibly during its time with AST Hamble. There are two patches, one on the starboard side of the fin’s leading edge, the second on the starboard fuselage spine just behind the cockpit canopy and above the roundel. One suggestion is that it may be grey/green primer. An area under the starboard code letter ‘E’ appears to be a lighter shade of Ocean Grey, perhaps from when it was recoded. The engine cowlings appear to be freshly repainted or perhaps replacements. 
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Antoni
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2009, 06:05:55 PM »

Just for interest the photo of  MK329 is in Shores and Thomas' 2 TAF Vol 4 - apparently the original photo was badly water damaged as a consequence of which the details of the individual letter and the D-Day stripes are missing. What can be seen is that the code letters are flat bottomed, as described by Antoni and appear to be serifed. They definitely look different to those on EN398.

I can still remember building Airfix's old Spitfire IX in Johnny Johnson's markings...and now I feel really old. Undecided

MK329 or MK392?
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Edgar Brooks
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2009, 02:11:17 PM »

Got (sort of) confirmation, yesterday; talking to a friend, in Canada, and he sadi that he was involved, years ago, in judging a "stand off" r/c scale competition, which included JEJ.  The modeller produced a letter, from Johnson, confirming that the leaf was green.
Edgar
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