Spitfire Progress – roundels and more!
We’re very pleased to bring you an especially exciting progress report – it feels like a couple of significant milestones have been reached since our last update.
Last time we reported that the greys and green of the Spitfire’s main colour scheme had been applied. Now the RAF roundel, serial number, and squadron code have all been added by spraying paint over carefully applied stencils.
Roundels are commonly used on a military aircraft to identify its nation. They were first used during the First World War. The red, white and blue roundel has been used on British aircraft since 1915. The yellow ring was added in 1940 to make the roundels more noticeable against the body of an aeroplane.
The serial number of our Spitfire is RW388. Every aeroplane built was issued its own unique code consisting of a combination of letters and numbers. During the war, gaps were deliberately made in the number registers to make it harder for the enemy to estimate the amount of aeroplanes being built.
Finally, the U4 U painted onto the fuselage is the squadron code. This is the aeroplane’s unique call sign whilst serving with a particular squadron. Our spitfire served with a number of different squadrons over the years, but U4 U was its very first call sign when it joined No. 667 Squadron RAF in 1945.
Reassembling the long lost cockpit
The painting of the cockpit interior and cleaning and lacquering of brass pipework is now complete. This means that many of the objects being refurbished, procured or manufactured for the interior are starting to be fitted. There’s still work to be done – but even at this stage it is the most complete RW388’s cockpit has ever been since it came to the City in 1972.
Below you can see the control column installed (wrapped for its protection) and the port (left) side of the cockpit interior with the gun camera control, the elevator trim tab control and a support structure for two fuse boxes all now fitted.
The image below shows the starboard (right) side of the cockpit with many fittings and items now installed in the newly cleaned and painted interior including a replica ventilation control box, canopy winder and undercarriage chassis selector. Around 50% of the items pictured have always been missing and MAPSL have had the challenge of sourcing them or making replicas.
Creative replicas include this windscreen de-icer pump – made from the body of a 1940s grease gun!
Finally, we’re working closely with MAPSL and Operation Spitfire to uncover even more information about the history of the aircraft. We’ve identified the names of some of its pilots and we’d love to track down any living friends or relatives.
So far we have 3 names, all Polish gentleman:
F/Lt Zbigniew Teofil Kalinowski P0231. Born 07/10/10, died 22/2/85 aged 75, Lincoln
W/O Edwin Malinowski (Malin) 781256. Born 10/11/19, died 8/2/88 aged 69, Nottingham.
FSgt Roman Jozef Przystaijko 706725. Name changed by deed poll in 1958 to Roman Joseph Rolland. Born 17/10/20, died 03/02/86 aged 66, London
If you have any links to any of these men it would be fantastic to hear from you at [email protected].