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Missing the summer of 1940

A Battle of Britain veteran once remarked to me that once the winter of 1940/41 came along, he almost missed the summer battles of 1940! This comment came to mind when I decided to paint the RAF's venerable Hawker Hurricanes, and wanted to reimagine how difficult conditions were for the groundcrew working on an icy metal airframe handling freezing ammo and tools.

Researching the squadrons flying the type in the winter period of late 1940 to early 1941, I discovered that 315 (Polish) squadron RAF were formed (with Hurricanes) at RAF Acklington, England, on 21 January 1941, and equipped with Hurricanes, was moved in March to RAF Speke, Liverpool, where it made frequent patrols over naval convoys as part of No. 9 Group RAF.

"The area received quite a bit of snowfall that further hindered training."

This comment on about the snow issues was particularly key:

"On February 3 1941, the squadron received its first aircraft, Hurricane MkI (L1740), followed by several others in a next few days. Squadron's first training flights started on February 8th. There were many problems with newly arrived aircraft, which needed a lot attention and the ground personnel was lacking in number. The area received quite a bit of snowfall that further hindered training."

I started making a collage from various winter snapshots of snowy farmland and wartime airfields, and referenced a lot of model kits that others had made, including a hurricane kit at home that I could pose on a mirror to get an idea of the refelctions to paint into the puddles od melted snow. The model making internet fraternity has an amazing amount of accurate material on markings for all kinds of aircraft, and coupled with historic photos, this helped to mark up the 315 sqn Hurricanes parked on the field in my preliminary work. I then began many tedious hours of painting mud and snow...

When I final did get onto painting the aircraft and all important hard-suffering groundcrew, the work of online historians and artists colourising period black and white photos were a great resource to study the groundcrew.

Quite pleased with how the hard, winter light contrast worked out in this painting. Its certainly looks like a cold and bright winter's day. Took a little artistic license with how the aircraft are parked up in the slush like that - wasn't very considerate of the pilots!


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