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Beer delivery by Spitfire

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by ColHessler, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    A friend of mine sent this and I thought I'd share it.

    In the lighter moments of World War II, the Spitfire was used in an
    unorthodox role: bringing beer kegs to the men in Normandy.
    During the war, the Heneger and Constable brewery donated free beer to the
    troops. After D-Day, supplying the invasion troops in Normandy with vital
    supplies was already a challenge. Obviously, there was no room in the
    logistics chain for such luxuries as beer or other types of refreshments.
    Some men, often called sourcers, were able to get wine or other niceties
    from the land or rather from the locals. RAF Spitfire pilots came up with an
    even better idea.
    The Spitfire Mk IX was an evolved version of the Spitfire, with pylons under
    the wings for bombs or tanks. It was discovered that the bomb pylons could
    also be modified to carry beer kegs. According to pictures that can be
    found, various sizes of kegs were used. Whether the kegs could be jettisoned
    in case of emergency is unknown. If the Spitfire flew high enough, the cold
    air at altitude would even refresh the beer, making it ready for consumption
    upon arrival.
    A variation of this was a long range fuel tank modified to carry beer
    instead of fuel. The modification even received the official designation
    Mod. XXX. Propaganda services were quick to pick up on this, which probably
    explains the official designation.

    View attachment 15885 A staged shot of the Mod. XXX tank being filled.
    View attachment 15887
    As a result, Spitfires equipped with Mod XXX or keg-carrying pylons were
    often sent back to Great-Britain for maintenance or liaison duties. They
    would then return to Normandy with full beer kegs fitted under the wings.

    The Spitfire had very little ground clearance with the larger beer kegs.
    Typically, the British Revenue of Ministry and Excise stepped in, notifying
    the brewery that they were in violation of the law by exporting beer without
    paying the relevant taxes. It seems that Mod. XXX was terminated then, but
    various squadrons found different ways to refurbish their stocks. Most
    often, this was done with the unofficial approval of higher echelons.
    In his book Dancing in the Skies , Tony Jonsson, the only Icelander pilot in
    the RAF, recalled beer runs while he was flying with 65 Squadron. Every week
    a pilot was sent back to the UK to fill some cleaned-up drop tanks with beer
    and return to the squadron. Jonsson hated the beer runs as every man on the
    squadron would be watching you upon arrival. Anyone who made a rough landing
    and dropped the tanks would be the most hated man on the squadron for an
    entire week.
     

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  2. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    After I got over my initial disappointment that there wouldn't be any Spitfires delivering beer to me, I did appreciate the article and the photos. Really proves the whole 'necessity is the mother of invention' theory. And I imagine after D-Day beer could have been considered a real necessity.
     
  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    That's Brit ingenuity for ya' :) Direct from the Brewery!
    In the SWPA they found out that beer cans fit perfectly in place of the .50 Caliber ammo belts on the P-47s. Whenever they could get a supply of beer there was always at least one aircraft that needed a "check-ride" to 20,000' and 15 minutes duration :rolleyes:
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Do they still deliver? Because if they do I am on my way to the landing place. They don't drop it right or have they tasted it before taking off?
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The 'brewer's dray' Spitfire has been legendary since a photo of one in flight appeared in the first edition of Johnnie Johnson's 'Wing Leader' in 1956. It's a favourite subject for plastic modellers.....some years back Hasegawa produced a Spitfire kit with optional 'underwing beerkegs'.
     

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