The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVI series was identical to the Mk.XI series except for the engine. The Mk.XVI was equipped with an American Packard built Merlin 266 series engine which had several minor differences from the standard Rolls Royce Merlin 66 series. The Merlin 66 series was optimized for low level operations. The minor differences were enough from a servicing point of view to merit a different number. Most Mk.XVIs were equipped with the shorter “clipped” E wings and so became LF Mk. XVIe’s.Airframes built from February 1945 featured the cut down fuselage and bubble canopy.

       Royal Air Force Spitfire TE 403 was a Supermarine Type 380. The RAF called it a Spitfire LF Mark XVIe. This version of the Spitfire was designed for low level operations. It was constructed by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich. It featured the late model cut down fuselage and bubble canopy. It was fitted with an “E“wing with clipped wingtips. It was powered by an American Packard built Merlin 266 engine. The Royal Air Force took charge of TE 403 on June 25th, 1945. It was issued to 9 Maintenance Unit and placed in storage. It was issued to 501 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force on February 5th, 1947. A photograph from Scale Aircraft Modelling, Volume 1, Number 5, shows TE 403 in service with 501SQ. in 1948. It is in formation with 2 other Spitfires and all 3 aircraft are finished differently. TE 474/RAB-P is in Aluminum Day Fighter Scheme (sometimes referred to as High Speed Silver) with C type roundels, narrow white fin flash and blue spinner.The subject of this sidebar, TE 403/RAB-G is in Aluminum Day Fighter Scheme with D type roundels, equal thirds fin flash and silver spinner. SL 516/RAB-N is in Dark Green/Ocean Grey/Medium Sea Grey Day Fighter Scheme with Sky tail band and spinner, C type roundels and narrow white fin flash. TE 403 carries RAuxAF 501 Squadron’s code RAB and in this photograph, it is assigned the individual aircraft code G. These codes were commonly applied in Night. 501SQ. was re-formed in May 1946 as an Auxiliary Air Force squadron. It received Spitfire LF.16e’s in the fall of 1946. In February of 1949, 501SQ. began to re-equip with DH Vampire F.1s and retired its Spitfires. TE 403 went on to serve in the RAF until declared non-effective stock on December 14th 1954 and stuck off charge. It was sold as scrap on May 1st 1956.

       This model is the 1/72nd scale Heller kit. It first became available in the early ‘80s.It’s current stock number is 80282. I built it while a member of SEPAF, which was the parent organization of HAD. It was built OOB. At this time SEPAF had its own paint spraying booth.Before this I didn’t do natural or silver finish models because they didn’t look right painted by brush.( my own fault ).We had gotten together and did a gang mail order of stuff. I picked up some British style alphabets and numbers decal sheets by Modeldecal, multiple sizes of roundels sheets and some Humbrol paint that was perfect to do that elusive “ high speed silver “finish of post-war British aircraft. So, this was my first chance to go for a silver paint job that would look right for the scale.

       At the time I built this kit I did not have any actual photographic evidence and I did not get it right as it turns out. The port side positions of the squadron and aircraft codes are correct but the starboard side turns out to be backwards. Some of 501’s aircraft were painted with the squadron code forward of the roundel and some to the rear. It the photograph mentioned previously, TE 403 has the squadron code to the rear. I am reminded of a piece of advice given to me by very wise old IPMS member. He said “Kid, you can never have enough reference material.” Roger that.

       Checking references in the Scale Aircraft Monographs Camouflage and Markings No.1 by Paul Lucas shows that the postwar RAF codes were done in all variations possible, sometimes all contained in one flight! With post war budgets tight, the changes in paint schemes and markings were slow and based mainly on routine maintenance and inspection cycles. As with the photo mentioned above, for a time, the post war RAF was bewildering combinations of camouflage and silver airframes and wartime and postwar national markings.

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