K9906, F/O Robert Stanford Tuck, No. 65 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex, Summer 1939
TALLY HO! This Spitfire Mk.I from No. 65 Squadron also sports a prewar camouflage scheme and markings. It carries some technical improvements from the previous aircraft, such as the blown cockpit canopy, a three-blade two-pitch De Haviland Type 5/20 propeller, and is likely
equipped with a system that used hot air to heat the guns. The aircraft does lack armor plating and is equipped with an older style pitot tube.
It does not yet carry a reflector type gun sight. From our decal options, the pilot, F/O R.S. Tuck is the most successful in terms of combat
with 29 confirmed kills and two shared. In May, 1940, he was transferred to No. 92 Squadron, and with this unit, he fought in the Battle of
France and the Battle of Britain. His first kills came on May 23rd, 1940, over Dunkirk, when he shot down three German aircraft, and two on
the following day. On September 11th, 1940, he was named CO of No. 257 Squadron, armed with the Hurricane Mk.I. It is assumed that one
of his victims was future Luftwaffe ace Hansz-Joachim Marseille on September 23rd, 1940. With the rank of Wing Commander, he was shot
down by flak on January 28th, 1942, near Boulogne sur Mer, and after a successful forced landing, he was taken prisoner. He took part in the
preparations for what became known as the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III in Sagan, but he did not actually take part in the escape itself, as
he was moved to the camp Belaria just prior to it. On February 1st, 1945, he made good his escape with Polish pilot Zbigniew Kustrzynski, during an evacuation march and headed west, where he joined up with the advancing Soviet army. At this point, his knowledge of Russian came
in rather handy, a knowledge that he had acquired as a child from his Russian nanny. Later, he made his way back to England, via Moscow.
He continued on in the services of the RAF after the war, and did so up to the fifties, and then dedicated another twenty years of his life to
mushroom farming. He served as a technical advisor on the film ‘Battle of Britain’ during which he became friends with Adolf Galland, and
became godfather to his son. He passed away on May 5th, 1987, at the age of seventy.
K9955, F/O Archibald Ashmore McKellar, No. 602 Squadron, RAF Drem, East Lothian, Scotland, March 1940
PHONEY WAR. This Spitfire Mk.I, serialled K9955 and hailing from No. 602 Squadron, is representative of an aircraft that has been going through modernization, carrying an armored windscreen, a two-pitch, three bladed propeller, gun heating, a new pitot tube, but with an older antenna mast. The seat is likely not yet armored,
but the aircraft does have the GM 2 reflector type gun sight. Note the anti-spin fairings on the sides of the fuel tank. Also interesting is the fact that No. 602 Squadron
had their engines converted to use 100 Octane fuel already by mid-February, 1940. No. 602 Squadron was one of the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) units to have acquired
Spitfires prior to the beginning of the war. The AAF was an arm of the RAF that was composed of Reserve and Non-Commissioned Officers, who kept up their qualifications by way of weekend flying. They were known as ‘the Weekend Air Force’. Before the war, and shortly after its outbreak, the members of the force were made up
of mostly better-off individuals with good social connections. After the war began, its personnel were mobilized, and units were essentially ‘professionalized’. A part of
the AAF was also made up of units composed of foreign nationals, including Czechoslovak and Polish squadrons of the RAF. On October 16th, 1939, No. 602 Squadron
took part in the first successful RAF encounter with German bombers when KG 30 conducted a raid on Scapa Flow, together with No. 603 Squadron, downing three Ju
88s. One of the crew that was shot down and taken prisoner was Hptm. Helmut Pohl, CO of I./KG 30. The squadron also took part in the first shoot down of a German
aircraft over British territory, that on October 28th, when her pilots, again in conjunction with No. 603 Squadron, flamed an He 111 over Firth of Forth. Both encounters were participated in by A.A. McKellar, and some sources count them among McKellar’s aerial victories. In June, 1940, McKellar was named Flight Leader with No.
605 Squadron, flying Hurricane Mk.Is, to eventually take command of the unit from another well-known pilot, S/Ldr. Walter Churchill. McKellar claimed fifteen kills
during the Battle of Britain (plus one shared), with five coming on October 3rd (all over Bf 109Es), becoming one of 28 Allied pilots to reach ‘Ace in a Day’ status. A.
A. McKellar died in combat just one day after the end of the Battle of Britain, on November 1st, 1940. It is widely assumed that his end came at the hands of Hptm.
Wolfgang Lippert, CO of II./JG 27. It is a noteworthy fact that his Hurricane Mk.I, P3308, on which he gained thirteen of his kills (plus one shared, four probables and
one damaged), was the aircraft responsible for making the Hurricane the most successful aircraft of the Battle of Britain, in terms of number of kills.
Later, P3308 was assigned to No. 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron on January 4th, 1941, where it was written off in an accident on April 30th of the same year.
INFO Eduard - August 2020