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 REVIEW: Hobby Master HA8301 RCAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MK392/JEJ, Wing Commander "Johnnie" Johnson OC No.144 Wing (RCAF), June 1944

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PostSubject: REVIEW: Hobby Master HA8301 RCAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MK392/JEJ, Wing Commander "Johnnie" Johnson OC No.144 Wing (RCAF), June 1944   Tue Mar 21 2017, 20:51

August 1, 2012

Hobby Master 1/48 Air Power Series
Spitfire Mk.IX MK392/JEJ
Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson
OC No.144 Wing (RCAF), June 1944

Production Limited 1,300 Units

Air Vice-Marshal J.E. ‘Johnnie’ Johnson

Official Top-Scoring RAF Fighter Pilot of World War Two and "Honourary Canadian" Ace

James Edgar "Johnnie" Johnson was born in 1915 at Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, England, the son of local policeman Alfred Johnson.

The highest scoring RAF fighter pilot to survive the war, Johnnie Johnson shot down 38 enemy aircraft in the skies over Western Europe between June 1941 and September 1944. This tally is remarkable on two counts. Johnson began his operational career after the end of the Battle of Britain, which provided such a rich harvest of combat victories for many of his peers as the Luftwaffe's air fleets attacked virtually day after day. Kills were much harder to obtain on the fighter sweeps over enemy territory which succeeded the battle, operations for which the Spitfire was much less suited than it had been to the role of air defence in the summer of 1940. In addition, all Johnson's victories, with the exception of a quarter share in a Messerschmitt 110, were against single-seat fighters - easily the most formidable opponents.

In March 1943, now an acting Wing Commander, he took over the RCAF Canadian Kenley Wing (four RCAF Spitfire Squadrons) stationed at RAF Kenley. Despite initial resistance to a British Wing Leader from his tough, obstinate Canadian charges, he quickly won them over with his sheer force of personality. The unit, now flying the Spitfire Mk. IX, became one of the most famous and highest scoring Fighter Wings. Johnson chose his radio call-sign at this time as "Greycap." During offensive sweeps over Europe and as escorts to the USAAF heavy bomber streams, he personally claimed 14 victories during April—September 1943. Johnson was soon held in affection and respect by his men, who awarded him the insignia 'Canada' shoulder flashes which, in breach of regulations, he had sewn onto his uniform tunic.

In September 1943, by which time he had brought his score to 25, Johnson was rested from operations and given a staff appointment as an operational planner at Headquarters, 11 Group. He returned to operations in command of the RCAF's 144 Canadian (Fighter) Wing in March 1944. As part of 83 Group 2nd Tactical Air Force this unit was involved in the intensive air attacks on the occupied Continent which preceded D-Day, and Johnson continued to add to his tally of combat victories. After the landings themselves, Johnson led his Canadian Wing to Normandy where it became the first Allied fighter unit to operate from French soil since the fall of France.

A superb shot and truly inspirational leader, by 1945 Johnnie was officially recorded as the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot – with two DFCs and three DSOs to his credit.

Wing Commander Johnson with his previous personal mount - EN398. Note his initials JEJ (rounded bottoms and maple leaf) painted on the side which was an exclusive right of Wing Commanders.

After the war Johnnie remained in the RAF, flying jets post-war and commanding both a ‘V’ bomber station and RAF Middle East. While still serving he wrote his wartime memoir Wing Leader, and his treatise on air fighting, entitled Full Circle. He retired from the RAF in 1966 with rank of Air Vice Marshal (Equivalent to a 2-Star General). He passed away in 2001 at the age of 85.

I had acquired an interest in this particular aircraft after reading Johnson's book "Wing Leader" when I was a kid. I marvelled at the detailed descriptions of Air Combat missions flown by Johnson and the four RCAF Spitfire Squadrons which he led so effectively. In fact the book may have influenced my decision to choose flying as a career as an adult.

This model by Hobby Master is a good one in my opinion. There have been questions raised whether this aircraft wore the maple leaf on the side or if the letters "JEJ" should have flat bottoms or not (both flat and rounded styled letters were used by the RCAF). Unfortunately there are no known photos of Johnson's Spitfire at the time in question. The end result is that opinions are divided among enthusiasts and the matter may never be completely settled. A word of caution - the elliptical wing tips are plastic and come attached (obviously a squared tip LF Mk. IX Spitfire is in the future). I have a habit of handling my models by the wing tips and promptly separated the port plastic tip from the wing. No harm was done to the model as it simply separated at the seam and was easily glued back into position.

All in all a very attractive addition to the collection and one I heartily recommend.


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REVIEW: Hobby Master HA8301 RCAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MK392/JEJ, Wing Commander "Johnnie" Johnson OC No.144 Wing (RCAF), June 1944
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