Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII
Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII A58-602 RG-V
457 Squadron, Wg Cdr R.H. Gibbes OC 80 wing RAAF, Morotai, April 1945.
The Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII was intended to be the definitive Merlin-powered variant, incorporating the lessons from the interceptor marks used in the Battle of Britain and the later aircraft that carried out the early cross-Channel offensive operations. The sudden appearance of the Focke-Wulf Fw-190 and its superiority over early Spitfires required immediate action, and the Spitfire Mk IX was produced as a quick response by fitting the Merlin 60 to the Spitfire Mk V airframe. The Spitfire Mk VIII used the same series engine, but was built as an unpressurised development of the Spitfire Mk VII high altitude fighter. The Mk VIII was built in high-(HF.Mk VIII) and low-flying (LF. Mk VIII) versions as well as the standard F. Mk VIII; a total of 1,658 were built, most of them delivered either to the Mediterranean or Eastern fronts, seeing service in India and Burma as well as Australia.
457 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force was operational in New Guinea at the end of the Second World War. The Squadron adopted a fearsome sharkmouth and decorated their aircraft with “Grey Nurse” titles after the marine predator. Their aircraft were UK-built, but given RAAF serials on arrival. 457 formed part of 80 Wing, with 79 and 452 Squadrons RAAF. Wg.Cdr. “Bobby” Gibbes had served in the Middle East, scoring ten kills and fourteen probables flying P-40 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks with 3 Squadron RAAF, before commanding first the squadron and then the Wing. He retained the individual letter V that had identified his aircraft in squadron service, but replaced their two-letter codes with his initials, an accepted practice for Wing Leaders. At least two Spitfire Mk VIIIs were marked as RG-V; A68-602 was originally MV133, built at Southampton and transferred to the RAAF, arriving at Melbourne in October 1944. It was hit by flak over the Ternate Islands on 7 April 1945, and finally struck off charge a year later
A Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII (ex A58-758) still flies as A-58-602 in Gibbes’ colours in Australia today, preserved by the well-known warbird collector and enthusiast David Lowy at Temora and flown regularly at displays.
Scale 1:72 Wingspan 6.25″ (156 mm)
Base size 6.37″ (162 mm) square (No. 4)
Weight not including base 6.75 ozs (190 grams) Limited edition of 100 only