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Venezuelan P-50K Spitfire

Started by comrade harps, January 10, 2022, 05:36:50 PM

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comrade harps

Grumman P-50K Spitfire
a/c 47, 1st Expeditionary Squadron, 2nd Latin American Fighter Group, Venezuelan Air Force
Taegu, UN-occupied southern Korea, 27 February 1946
Personal mount of Captain Josef Martínez

Disbanded at San Angelo, Italy, in November 1944, the Venezuelan Air Force's 1st Expeditionary Squadron was re-established at Majors Army Airfield, Texas, USA, on 26 March 1945. Having previously flown the Canadian-built Federal Aircraft A-36B version of the Mustang, there was a high expectation among the Venezuelan personnel that they would be issued new Mustangs. Arriving on busses, they saw Venezuelan-marked Spitfires across the airfield. Muttering followed and there was the hope expressed that these were just for training. Maybe, someone suggested, like their colleagues from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, they would soon be issued with P-47D Thunderbolts? Surely, they wouldn't be flying Spitfires over Japan?

With time, they would learn how to fight with the Grumman (Kaiser-built) P-50K Spitfire over Japan.

In April, the Venezuelan 1st Expeditionary Squadron would be joined by two other units. The men of the Columbian 101st Fighter Squadron arrived on the 9th and those of the Ecuadorean 21st Squadron on the 15th. Together, they would form the 2nd Latin American Fighter Group (2LAFG). After training at Major, the personnel of the 2LAFG were deployed to Clark Field, Philippines, where they picked up new P-50Ks and flew local combat missions during October. Here, they painted their Spitfires with high-visibility yellow, blue and red trims, to symbolise the colours shared by their national flags; only the red had to be minimised and the red centre of the Venezuelan national markings was replaced with white.

Built by Kaiser, the P-50K was the US equivalent to the UK-built Spitfire XVI. The type featured a bubble canopy, was powered by the V-1650-9 Packard Merlin, and were armed with either four 20mm Hispano cannon or two Hispano and two .50 cal Brownings (depending on the production block). With the RAF choosing to skip the P-50K for the Packard V-2240 Griffin powered P-50L (Spritire 35) and P-50N (Spitfire 36), the US Government offloaded the mass-produced P-50Ks onto other export customers.

Slower than the P-47D or P-51D, and shorter ranged too, the P-50K was passé by the time 2LAFG was formed. Realising that they were likely to be relegated to less glamorous ground attack duties, the 2LAFG focused on honing their air-to-surface combat skills. However, early training demonstrated that the P-50K was less accurate as a bombing platform than the A-36B the Venezuelans had previously flown. Fortunately, the type could be armed with six 5 inch HVAR, which in combat became the staple offensive loadout. To overcome the type's range deficiency (compared to the P-47 and P-51), reusable 65 gal aluminium and single-use 90 gal plastic impregnated press paper drop tanks were carried on most combat sorties. Operating from Taegu on the Korean Peninsula, the external fuel tanks gave the P-50K sufficient combat radius with six HVARs to attack targets on Kyushu, Shikoku and most of Honshu. Critically, they could mount Watermelon cab-rank CAS missions in support of Operation Downfall, the Allied invasion of Honshu. Another loadout used was two 65 gal fuel tanks, six HVARs and a 65 gal napalm tank on the centreline. The 2LAFG left bombing with actual bombs to 1LAFG.

2LAFG P-50K with 1LAFG P-47D: see https://www.whatifmodellers.com/index.php?topic=31495.msg500565#msg500565

2LAFG joined 1LAFG at Taegu in November 1945 and participated in a range of operations. Code named mission types included Watermelons (providing cab-rank CAS), Strawberries (seek and destroy armed recce against targets of opportunity), Pumpkins (pre-planned strikes against fixed targets) and Shallots (as Pumpkins, but specifically against targets associated with ramp-launched, pulse-jet powered Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka Model 43B Otsu). No 2LAFG pilots were credited with the destruction of Japanese aircraft in aerial combat until the invasion of Honshu. Tasked with Watermelons in support of Downfall's Wakasa Bay landings, they inevitably encountered the kamikaze onslaught and shot down seven Japanese planes, including four Ki-115, two Ki-100 To-Gō and a Ki-61-II. By VJ Day, their air kill tally stood at just 11. Two of these kills were credited to Captain Josef Martínez: a Ki-115 on 1 March and another the next day.

The Spitfires flown at Major were of the P-50K-1-KA variety. At Clark, they were issued aircraft from the P-50-2-KA and P--50-3-KA blocks. The -1s and -2s were armed with a pair of 20mm Hispano cannon and two .50 cal Browning machine guns, while the -3s differed only from the -2s in having four cannon at the expense of the machine guns. However, as all P-50Ks were built with the "American Universal" wing, the Brownings could be replaced in service by a second pair of cannon. This appears to be the case with this aircraft, which is notable for having field produced aerodynamic sleeves for the inner pair of cannon (there having been a temporary shortage of genuine cannon sleeve parts when it was converted to an all cannon armament). Later photographs of this plane in Operation Downfall invasion stripes show standard, factory-supplied sleeves on all four cannon. Many of 2LAFG's P-50-2-KA Spitfires had their machines guns replaced by cannons during December 1945 and January 1946.

During these winter months of reduced operations, all of the Group's Spitfires also had their undercarriage modified to reduce tyre wear. In November, Taegu's second runway was completed with a concrete surface, with the original runway being rebuilt in concrete during December and January. Using undercarriage and tyres designed for grass and dirt runways, the concrete runways produced excessive tyre wear on the Spitfires. The solution was to change the angle of the tyres relative to the undercarriage legs, which in turn required additional space in the wings when the undercarriage was retracted. To make room, a portion of the upper wing was cut open and faired over with a factory-supplied blister.

1st Expeditionary Squadron P-50K with A-36B at rear: see https://www.whatifmodellers.com/index.php/topic,36827.msg593705.html#msg593705

Captain Josef Martínez had flown 17 combat missions in the 1st Expeditionary Squadron's A-36B Mustangs in Italy before rejoining the unit as it reformed on the P-50K. His P-50-1-KA Spitfire, a/c 47, is depicted here as photographed (with 30 mission markings) before his 31st Spitfire combat mission at Taegu on 27 February 1946. By VJ Day, 6 May 1946, he had flown 97 missions, 64 in a/c 47 (withdrawn after another Spitfire crashed into it whilst taxiing) and another 33 in a/c 87.

comrade harps

Thus continues my alt Grumman Spitfire story: the P-50 models (= gives their Supermarine equivalents where applicable). Grumman produced Spitfires from orders placed by the British Purchasing Commission under the American Shadow Factory Scheme. Production and development gradually transferred to Kaiser as subcontractors.

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


How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.

Rick Lowe

Shiny and Colourful!
Nice backstory, too.  :thumbsup:


My deviantart page:

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


[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]



- 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..


I like that, suits that colour scheme  :thumbsup:
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.


Captain Canada

Now those are schnazy looking machines ! Love the Mustang especially. Great stuff !
CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?


Will die without understanding this world.



 :unsure: :-\ In RW, the Grumman XP-50 was the land-based Grumman XF5F: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_XP-50 . But I prefer the whif world... ;)
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]