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No. 121 New Guinea Squadron RAAF Grumman P-50B Spitfire 31

Started by comrade harps, December 23, 2020, 05:02:37 AM

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comrade harps

Grumman P-50B Spitfire 31
A46 - 126, N, Boogie Bogey, No. 121 New Guinea Squadron, RAAF
Personal mount of Pilot Officer Manuel Neuer
Tadji, Aitape, New Guinea Republic, November 1944

The German New Guinea colony in the Pacific was practically defenceless when WW1 broke out in July 1914. By prior arrangement, Britain's Pacific allies, Australia and Japan, proceeded to carve up Germany's Pacific protectorates between themselves. The naval German East Asia Squadron was small and mostly at sea north of the equator and was quickly rounded up by Japanese intervention; the Imperial Japanese Navy then proceeded to occupy the numerous German Pacific island possessions north of the equator. South the equator, the Governor of German New Guinea responded to an Australian demand to surrender with a statement of independence and "neutral cooperation." This didn't prevent an Australian occupation of German territories below the equator but did allow that to be done peacefully. The Australian government recognised the newly formed Provisional Government of New Guinea as a domestic administration, allowing it a great deal of autonomy and encouraged its development of trade deals which were favourable to Britain. This backfired on the Australians at Versaille. While the Australian's framed their demands for a League of Nations Mandate to administer the former German possessions south of the equator as being essential to its national interests, the American, British and Japanese delegations lobbied to recognise the New Guinea Republic (NGR) as a sovereign nation, the Japanese delegation adding that it should be demilitarized. The 1919 Treaty of Versaille resolved that all of Germany's former Pacific possessions be demilitarised, with those north of the equator to be Mandated to Japan, and, with the exception of German Samoa (which was mandated to New Zealand) those south of the equator to be governed as the sovereign territory of the New Guinea Republic. Australia was left with little option other than to recognise the new nation and establish "hegemonic guidance" over its otherwise independent political and economic governance.

During the late 1930s, the Japanese government quietly militarised it's former German colonies and was in a good position to invade the New Guinea Republic following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Australian air, land and naval forces put up a heroic but hopeless defence of the NGR at its request. By June 1942 the entirety of the NGR was occupied by Japanese troops, but not before the Australian government (as per its racist White Australia Policy) evacuated most of its white population. From these, the RAAF recruited NGR refugees with aviation experience or aspirations and (along with similar refugees for the Netherlands East Indies - NEI) sent them to the USA for training. In December 1943, the RAAF formed 121 New Guinea Squadron at RAAF Station Canberra, presenting Spitfires to its mix of NGR and Australian personnel.

This was the end result of several heated exchanges that took place during 1942 and 1943. In recognition of the NGR's aviation experience and its demilitarised status, the Australian government originally offered to form a transport squadron with NGR personnel. This was rejected, NGR officials demanding Spitfires. In response, DAP-built Hurricanes were offered, then Kittyhawks, but the NGR's position held firm and eventually, to avoid a diplomatic stoush, the Australian government approved the supply of refurbished, ex-RAAF Grumman-built P-50B Spitfires 31s. This was the American-built equivalent to Supermarine's Spitfire Vb, built at Grumman's "shadow factory" in Bethpage. As it was a fighter-bomber unit, and the Spitfire 31 was a pure fighter, all those issued to the squadron were rebuilt and upgraded examples featuring an Australian-developed bombing capability. 121 would go on to fly Grumman Spitfires through to the end of the war in May 1946, gradually re-equipping with P-50C Spitfire 32s (equivalent to the Spitfire Vc) and then P-50E Spitfire 34s (equivalent to Spitfire IX). Just as the NEI's RAAF squadrons were adorned with NEI markings, 121 Sqd aircraft carried green and blue roundels featuring the colours of the NGR flag.

From July 1944, 121 Sqd operated from a variety of bases in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA), including Tadji (Aitape), Finschhafen, Goodenough Island, Jacquinot Bay and Wewak. It regularly deployed in squadron or flight strength between RAAF commands to "show the flag" for political and propaganda purposes, giving the impression that it was larger than it actually was. In doing so, it supported Allied campaigns by performing fighter sweeps and bomber escort, strafing and bombing on interdiction and close air support missions, mounting armed visual reconnaissance over land and sea and providing shipping escort. As the Japanese fighter threat in its area of operations had largely evaporated by the time 121 Spd entered combat, its pilots never made contact with the enemy in the air.

This aircraft, serial number A46 - 126, had previously served with No. 2 OTU and had been rebuilt following a landing accident at Mildura. Equipped with a Vokes tropical filter, it is armed with four .303 Browning machine guns, two 20mm M2 Hispano cannon and a pair of 250 lb bombs. It features (as a modification) piping that supplied hot exhaust gasses to the wings to prevent the guns and cannon from freezing. It has clipped wings like most of 121's Spitfires, improving on the Spitfire's low-altitude speed and roll rate and enabling additional downward visibility from the cockpit. It is camouflaged in RAAF's standard Foliage Green and Light Grey scheme adopted in July 1944, with white painted tail and wing leading edges for quick identification. Like all other RAAF flying squadrons in the SWPA,121 was assigned a two-letter unit code (in this case, EJ), but this was only adorned on the Squadron CO's personal mount, leaving just a single letter code on the remainder. Joining to 121 Sqd in November 1944, A46 - 126 was the last Spitfire 31 delivered to the unit and was reduced to components after a belly landing at Tadji in April 1945. The Boogie Bogey nose art refers to Pilot Officer Manuel Neuer's interest in boogie-woogie music. P/O Neuer was reported missing while flying a Spitfire 34 on 20 May 1945, having been separated from his flight on return to Finschhafen from an armed reconnaissance mission over southern New Britain.

As NGR and Australian officials took stock of the NGR in the wake of the Japanese May 1946 surrender, it became clear that the nation had been devastated. Estimates put NGR's population loss from 1941 to 1945 at between 25 to 40%, with little in the way of civilian infrastructure left and insufficient NGR citizens able to fill professional government and business positions. Australians soon dominated the country's public service and its post-war recovery was dependent on Australian assistance. In 1949 the NGR voluntarily entered into the Australian administered Territory of Papua and New Guinea trusteeship and ceased to exist.

comrade harps

A bit of personal background on this one.

I purchased this kit (Tamiya 1/72nd Spitfire Vb) in Mornington on 3 December this year. I'd just been to my specialist in all things bloke plumbing and been given the all-clear with my 6-month check-up after a prostate biopsy between lockdowns earlier in the year. I wanted to celebrate, so popped into a local toy shop!

With a dominant La Niña, it's been cool enough to model, so I built this in a couple of afternoons earlier this week to celebrate the start of my Xmas holidays. It falls together.

The NGR roundels are the off-colour Hobby Boss SEAC roundels from their Hurricane kit.

The P-50 models (= gives their Supermarine equivalents where applicable):

P-50A Spitfire 30 = Spitfire II - V-1650-1 Packard Merlin, all export
P-50B Spitfire 31 = Spitfire Vb - V-1650-3 Packard Merlin, all export
P-50C Spitfire 32 = Spitfire Vc - V-1650-3 Packard Merlin, export and USAAF
P-50D Spitfire 33 = V-1650-7 Packard Merlin, long range tanks, Spitfire VIII-style pointy tail, 4 blades, 2 x 20mm + 4 x .303 or 4 x 20mm - export and USAAF
P-50E Spitfire 34 = Spitfire IX - V-1650-7 Packard Merlin, 4 blades export, 2 x 20mm + 2 × .50, all export
P-50F Spitfire = Spitfire IX - V-1650-7 Packard Merlin, 6 x .50 MGs, all USAAF
XP-50G Spitfire = Packard V-2240-1 Griffin, bubble canopy, laminar flow wings, 5 blades
XP-50H Spitfire = bubble canopy, V-1650-9 Packard Merlin
P-50J Spitfire = Spitfire XIV, Kaiser built, high back, Packard V-2240-3 Griffin, 6 x .50, + F-16A photo recce , all USAAF
P-50K Spitfire = Spitfire XVI, Kaiser built, bubble canopy, V-1650-9 Packard Merlin, bubble canopy, 2 x .50/2 x 20mm or 4 x 20mn, all export
P-50L Spitfire 35 = Spitfire XVIII, Kaiser built, Packard V-2240-3 Griffin, bubble canopy, 4 x 20mm, all export
XP-50M Spitfire - Kaiser built, bubble canopy, Packard V-2240-5 Griffin, contra props
P-50N Spitfire 36 = Spitfire 22, Kaiser built, bubble canopy, 4x20mm, Packard V-2240-5 Griffin + F-16B photo recce, export and USAAF
F-16C Spitfire - Kaiser built, fighter/bomber/recce, Packard V-2240-7 Griffin, contra props, all USAAF

If you do it and for whatever reasons you do (secular or religious), I hope everyone here has a great Xmas (or at least survive it as best you can).


Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Old Wombat

Nice build, comrade! :thumbsup:

Good news re: the plumbing. :thumbsup:


Thanks! :bow:

Best wishes for you & your family for Christmas & New Year! :party: :cheers:
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


My deviantart page:

PS: Not my art, not very good at drawning :P


"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Glenn Gilbertson



Good scheme, as always.  Has me thinking about the Spits in my stash.

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

The Rat

"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives." Hedley Lamarr, Blazing Saddles

Life is too short to worry about perfection

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