The beginnings of this unlikely scheme for this airplane dates back
to the summer of 2014, when a band of people who call themselves ‘Classic Trainers’ decided to put on a get-together of friends,
owners and history buffs under the label of ‘Czech Warbird Fly-In,
Plzen-Line, 2014’. Our friendship with the owner of Spitfire TE184,
Stephen Stead, was already well founded, and so Steve did not
hesitate to put in his two cents worth on the markings proposal
that was made into reality that summer.
Steve’s Spitfire entered the summer, 2014 season in the nicest
colour scheme that it ever displayed. It wore the codes DU-N
and personal markings honoring our most successful Spitfire pilot,
Otto Smik, incredibly well. In this guise, it participated in the entire spring flying display schedule, which culminated in a flyover
of Prague Castle that was a part of the unveiling of a memorial
dedicated to Czechoslovak airmen. After this ceremony, the Spitfire went on to visit our northern neighbors in Poland, and there,
coded ZF-U of No.308 Squadron and flown by Jacek Maink, it took
part in celebrations honoring Polish veterans.
After the celebrations and while still in Poland, the Spit reverted
back to DU-N, and then made its way back to Pilsen the night
before the Fly-In. In the morning, I unwrapped the freshly arrived decals that were to adorn the cowling sides of the Spitfire,
and to my major dismay, the printers sent two left side renditions of the crane that was the unit insignia of No.312 Squadron.
So, what now? The modeller spirit dwells deep within us….we
can’t put this on the plane. Certainly not. Our plan to save the day
by contacting our good friend and photographer, Kuba Vanek, who
was just about to make his way to our meet, was the correct one.
We forwarded him the required data and in about an hour and
a half, we had a new batch of the stickers at Line. This time,
The stickers were then applied to the Spitfire according to the
only accessible period photograph, but what do we do with the
rest of them? The evening hangar party and ‘the morning after’
gave rise to good ol’ human ingenuity. The first zap was received
by the hangar’s fourwheeler. Another was given to Eric’s Texan,
and Horac’s glider trailer was next. What else can be zapped? In
front of us was a Cmelak (translated to Bumble Bee in English)
with a sticker of a hockey player on its right side. ‘Hey…if it can
carry a hockey stick, it can carry a bird.’ And we happily placed
the unit marking of No.312 Squadron on the plane’s left side. We
had a few more kill markings in our possession,
as well as some for a V-1 intercept, and so the
‘BumbleSpit’ was born.
Years ago, I built a 1:72nd scale Spit and at
the time of this event, I was getting prepared
to apply Smik’s decals on an Eduard 48th scale Mk.IX. But applying these stickers on the real
thing, and not losing the site of the irony of the
situation, that was really an experience to remember that I would wish upon every modeller.
Smik’s markings on Steve’s DU-N Spitfire continued to spread pleasure for another year and
a half, when it was replaced by another no-less
iconic marking, VY. But that is another story for
another time. Right, Radim? And, by the way,
Radim, how was your flight with the BumbleSpit?
INFO Eduard - April 2021