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Author Topic: Muzzles of the .303 machineguns : always marked in red in wing's leading edges ?  (Read 38969 times)
Saeta
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« on: April 17, 2012, 09:02:44 AM »

Hello everybody, I am new to the forum

I want to buy a 1:48 early-model Spitfire by Hobby Master. As some of you might already know, they offer a couple of Mk.I from the Battle of Britain, and a Mk.II from early 1941.
I would have bought one of the Mk.I time ago if it was not for one factor that bothers me : as far as I can remember, in all pictures and drawings I have ever seen of Spitfires, the holes in the leading edge of the wings containing the muzzles of the .303 cal machine guns were marked with a small but clearly visible red square. I always though this to be the case, both when the number of machine guns was 8, as when later they were only 4 complementing the pair of 20 mm cannon.

However, the Mk.I models by Hobby Master do not have these red markers, the presence of the machine guns being indicated only by the holes for the muzzles. Is this historically accurate ?

http://www.hobbymastercollector.com/files/HA7801-4FP.jpg

Hobby Master is not perfect, but they certainly are one of the finest diecast companies around, and one with a penchant for detail and accuracy.
Most baffling to me, in all their other diecast 1:48 Spitfires ( Mk.II, MK.Va, Mk.IX, Mk.XIV ) they clearly place these red markers in the leading edge of the wings where the muzzles were.

http://www.hobbymastercollector.com/files/HA7110FP-4.jpg
http://www.hobbymastercollector.com/files/HA7806-3FP.jpg

They hence seem to be making a very intentional point of not having them in their Mk.I, as if they knew something that I do not.

The image of four leading edge red markers per wing is so entrenched in my image of what a Spitfire Mk.I should look like that I find it awkward not to see them.
Have I been wrong all along and Hobby Master go this one right, so at the end of the exercise I end up a wiser Spitfire freak ?
Or is Hobby Master (inexcusably) wrong and this should have been in ?

Would you be able to put me out of my misery ?
Thanks !
Saeta
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Edgar Brooks
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2012, 11:12:18 AM »

It's one of those unsure areas; from 24-9-40, Supermarine introduced Modification 259 "To delete covers for gun tunnels and empty case chutes and to substitute fabric patches in lieu."
I don't know about anyone else, but I've not found what those "covers" were, nor if the mod was Supermarine playing catch-up with what armourers were already using (the Local Technical Committee first discussed the change at the beginning of July 1940.)
On early gun tunnel drawings, there appears to be a small "step," which might be where the covers rested, but there's nothing certain.
Unless more information comes to light, I'd say that the muzzles had no covers at the start of the Battle, but that they appeared before the end (one armourer said that, if there was a shortage, he used sticking plaster on the muzzles, while another pasted bits of newspaper over the empties' chutes.)
Edgar
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NZTyphoon
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2012, 02:26:21 AM »

Hi Saeta, Don't worry about the etched panels, they weren't there on the real Spitfire Is This photo shows a pre-war 19 Sqn Spitfire ; if you look at the 3rd gun port you'll see that there was a cone-shaped flash hider projecting from the leading edge. These were removed from Spitfires just before the war started and the practice of using the fabric patches started. the 2nd photo from the top of lane's post shows a line up of 609 Sqn Spitfires taken in early-mid June 1940; at first glance the fabric patches, which have been shot through, showing the guns have been fired, look like dark panels on the leading edge, while the innermost gunport hasn't had the patch applied, and there's no hint of a panel line surrounding the port.
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JamesF
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 06:58:36 AM »

Yes the red squares were doped patches of cloth (the dope varnish had a red colour to it) to help with stopping the guns freezing at altitude, and I guess any dirt getting into the bays on take off.  The cannon had covers too, but not often used as far as pictures seem to show?  The cone ends to th barrels were removed early.  Not surprising, as they would have disrupted smooth airflow over the wing I would think, especially on the clean eliptical wing of a Spitfire, where half the chord width would have been smooth laminar flow before the transitiopn point to turbulent flow.  Also, wing drop at the stall may have been adversly effected by those cone barrel tips? 
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admin
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Martin W


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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 03:01:38 PM »

It has also been said that the patches improved the aerodynamical quality of the wing (uninterrupted airflow) and prevented FOD to the guns on grass airfields.

The DW-N that is the subject of HobbyMaster's model is a Battle of Britain machine. An urban myth says that by the time of BoB, red patches were common on Both Hurricanes and Spitfires.
Alas, there were exceptions to the rule, and it is likely that No. 601 Sqn was such an exception.

http://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Spitfire/MkI-RAF-610Sqn-DW-O/images/1-Spitfire-MkI-RAF-610Sqn-DW-O-Battle-of-Britain-on-%20Patrol-1940-01.jpg

It would seem that the patches were usually red in the UK. I have seen photos of blue patches used in North Africa.

/Martin
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 03:06:58 PM by admin » Logged
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