Supermarine Spitfire Mk XII
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XII EN237 EB-V
41 Squadron, Squadron Leader Tom Neil, Hawkinge, Spring 1943.
The Supermarine Spitfire Mk XII was the first Griffon engined Spitfire to enter squadron service. The first Spitfire to be fitted with the Rolls Royce Griffon engine was the Spitfire Mk IV which only reached the prototype stage (DP845). The Mk IV was in fact a Mk I airframe modified to take the Griffon engine and was later redesignated the Spitfire Mk XX.
While the Spitfire Mk V had been successful against the Messerschmitt Bf 109F it was completely outclassed by the Focke Wulf Fw 190. In February 1942 it was decided that a successor had to be found quickly as the new Spitfire Mk IX was many months away from full production. An alternative had to be found and be operational in 1943 to meet this new threat. The Spitfire Mk IV had sowed the seed for this alternative, the development of the Spitfire Mk IV prototype (DP845) continued and became the prototype for the Spitfire Mk XII.
low level versions of the Focke Wulf Fw 190 based in Normandy had been making ‘hit and run’ raids on the South Coast of England, this was what the Spitfire Mk XII had been designed to prevent.
Armed with two Hispano 20mm cannon and four Browning 0.303″ machine guns the Mk XII was a good match for the Focke Wulf Fw 190s and with it’s clipped wings it had excelent low level manoeuvrability.
Only 100 Spitfire Mk XIIs were ever produced before the Mk IX entered full production, the Mk XII showed the way forward for the Spitfire and was a very important development.
EN237 was one of the first Spitfire Mk XIIs produced serving with 41 Squadron based at Hawkinge in Kent.
THOMAS FRANCIS NEIL 71968
Neil was born in Bootle on July 14th 1920. He joined the RAFVR on October 17th 1938 and began his flying training at 17 E&RFTS, Barton, Manchester. Called up on September 2nd 1939, Neil went to 4I TW, Bexhill in early November.
On December 1st he was posted to 8 FTS, Montrose and on completion of the course, he was commissioned and joined 249 Squadron on May 15th 1940 at its reformation at Church Fenton.
Flying from North Weald on September 7th, Neil claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 destroyed, on the llth a Heinkel He 111, on the 15th two Messerschmitt Bf 109s and a Dornier Do 17 destroyed and another Dornier Do 17 shared, on the 18th a Heinkel He 111 damaged and on the 27th a Messerschmitt Bf 110 and a Junkers Ju 88 destroyed, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 probably destroyed and a Junkers Ju 88 shared.
On October 6th Neil shared a Dornier Do 17, on the 25th claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 destroyed, on the 27th a Dornier Do 17 probably destroyed, on the 28th a Junkers Ju 88 shared and on November 7th a Junkers Ju 87 ‘Stuka’ and two Messerschmitt Bf 109s destroyed. On this day Neil collided with Wing Commander F V Beamish during a patrol and lost his tail. He baled out of Hurricane V 7676, unhurt. Neil was awarded the DFC (8.10.40) and a Bar (26.11.40) and made a Flight Commander in December. In May 1941 249 Squadron went to Malta. The squadron flew off Ark Royal on the May 21st, Neil leading the second group of Hurricanes. After a series of mishaps and misadventures, they all reached Malta safely. On June 12th 1941 Neil destroyed a Mc 200. He left Malta on December 26th 1941 and returned to the UK, via the Middle East, South Africa, West Africa and Canada, finally arriving at Liverpool in early March 1942.
Neil was posted to 81 Group as Tactics Officer. He went to 56 OTU in mid-June and on September 1st 1942 he took command of 41 Squadron at Llanbedr. In July 1943 he was posted to 53 OTU, Kirton-on-Lindsey, as aninstructor. He later went to the 9th US Air Force, as Flying Liaison Officer with the 100th Fighter Wing. After D-Day Neil did some operational flying in France, as a supernumerary.
In January 1945 he was posted to the School of Land/Air Warfare at Old Sarum, instructing and lecturing. Neil went to Burma in March 1945, investigating. Whilst there, he flew some operational sorties with No 1 Indian Wing. He returned to Old Sarum in April, leaving there in January 1946 to go on an Empire Test Pilots’ course at Cranfield. He would go on to test and evaluate many of the captured Luftwaffe aicraft of World War II as well as become one of the few pilots ever to have flown the Martin Baker MB 5.
Neil was awarded the Bronze Star (US)(2.8.49) and the AFC (2.1.56). He retired from the RAF in 1964, as a Wing Commander.
PO 12.5.40 FO 3.3.41 FL 3.3.42 FL 1.9.45 SL 1.1.51 WC 1.1.57
Ref: Men of the Battle of Britain by Kenneth G. Wynn (CCB Publications)
Scale 1:72 Wingspan 5.43″ (138 mm)
Base size 7.71″ (196 mm) square (No. 5)
Weight not including base 9 ozs (259 grams)
Limited edition of 50 only