Christchurch and District Model Flying Club
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An investigation by Harry Spotter

One evening in July the BBC1 programme “Repair Shop” had a visitor who brought a model plane with him. The model, described as a Spitfire, had a deep personal history for the owner, having been carved by his uncle between bombing missions in WWII. He was a crew member of a Lancaster and was shot down in 1943. The model was passed on in the family and unfortunately when it was given to the then youngster, it was dropped and a wing broken off. The challenge for the Repair Shop was to restore the model to its original condition, which of course they did.

But was it a Spitfire?

Some stills from the programme can be compared with the well-known Spitfire outline and the only point of agreement would seem to be the curve of the trailing edge of the wing. Even taking into account the conditions under which the model was made and its relative simplicity, this is not a model of a Spitfire!

So what is it?

The wing shape with its three machine guns each side, the brightly coloured engine cowl with the cooling gills and the shape of the tailplane are all significant clues to its identity and the most likely contender is the “Razorback” version of the P47 Thunderbolt.


P47 in RAF markings

Thunderbolt plan


So here are the screen shots I took from the programme


The broken wing being glued back onto the fuselage. See the cowl and the gill detail round the edge? Not a Spitfire.


Putting the propellor back on. See the wing leading edge and the machine guns? That’s a P47.


The finished repair. Even in this fuzzy shot, it’s still not a Spitfire


Definitely inward-retracting mainwheels!

There are a couple more puzzles - the relative accuracy of the markings compared with the rest of the painting. Perhaps the builder had access to transfers from the hardwood recognition model store that were on most airbases. In which case, they have lasted amazingly well!

The big mystery is that there were no P47s in RAF service until 1944, so if the uncle was shot down in 1943, where did he get his inspiration from?

I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that.

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