In my previous article on this soon to be released map I was a bit rapid in explaining that the Spitfire Mk XIV was not the dominant Spitfire type in 2TAF. I do not wish to give an erroneous impression that the Mk XIV might not have made a significant contribution within 2TAF in spite of it’s relatively smaller numbers compared to other marks of Spitfire.
The game editors have advised that their Northern Europe “Bodenplatte” map will cover the Western European air battle zone from around September 1944 to April 1945. Regarding the Spitfire MkIX, most would have been the LF MkIXc in September, converting progressively to the LF MkIXe and LF MkXVIe as the year drew to the close. Note that many squadron records identify LF MkIX’s as MkIXB in order to distinguish aircraft fitted with the Merlin 66. The official LF prefix was introduced to avoid confusion with wing/armement types but took some time to come into regular use. In 1945 several 2TAF squadrons were converting to the late production LF MkXVIe with the tear drop canopy and broad chord rudder. Note that the LF designation on the MkXVI is a bit redundant as the mark number already designates the aircraft as a MkIX airframe fitted with a Packard Merlin 266, an American built M66 “low altitude” engine.
But let’s get back to the operational use of the MkXIV during the period in question, and for which many players regret it not being available in the proposed plane set. Below I have copied an extract from spitfireperformance.com which gives a short operational history of the MkXIV before the article goes on to provide technical details from British and German sources in an effort to compare the performance of the Spitfire MkXIV to the Bf109G/K. The full article is a well worth read and I highly recommend visiting this website.
Extract from spitfireperformance.com about the Spitfire MkXIV
402 (RCAF) was first to move to the continent, arriving at Antwerp/Deurne, Belgium (B.70) in September (1944) followed shortly thereafter by 130 Squadron. These two Spitfire XIV squadrons then joined the Tempests of 80 and 274 Squadrons at Grave, Belgium (B.82) in early October to comprise No 125 Wing, No 83 Group, 2nd TAF before moving to Diest, Holland (B.64) in November. No. 2 and 430 fighter recce squadrons, based on the continent with No 35 Wing, No 84 Group, 2nd TAF, equipped with Spitfire XIVs in November. 350 and 610 Squadrons moved to Evere, Belgium (B.56) during the first week of December, while 41 joined 130 and 402 at Diest. At the end of the month 41, 130, 350 and 610 squadrons, comprising No 125 Wing, moved to Ophoven, Belgium (Y.32). 402 transferred to 126 (RCAF) Wing at Heesch, Holland (B.88) in December, staying there into April.
(My reminder : The German Bodenplatte operation took place on 1st January 1945)
In January 1945, 130, 350, and 610 squadrons moved to Eindhoven, Holland (B.78), while 41 Squadron joined 122 Tempest Wing at Volkel, Holland (B.80). Missions over north-west and north-central Germany brought the Spitfires into occasional contact with the Me 109s of JG 27 based at Rheine, Rheine-Hopsten, Hesepe, and Achmer during the first few months of 1945. The Me 109s of JG 3 may also have been encountered before they were moved to the crisis on the east front in January. Most combats, however, were with the Fw 190s of JG 26 and and to a lesser extent III./JG 54. 125 Wing moved to Twente, Holland (B.106) in early April where 41 Squadron rejoined them. 414 Squadron converted to FR XIVs in April as did 268 Squadron when they moved to Twente. In mid April 125 Wing moved to Celle, Germany (B.118) while 126 Wing moved to Rheine (B.108), then Wunstorf, Germany (B.116), where they finished up the war. 401 (RCAF) started to re-equip with Spitfire XIVs in mid April and was still in the process of fully converting to Spitfire XIVs when the war in Europe concluded. As of 26th April 1945 there were 667 Spitfire XIVs on strength with the RAF.
End of extract from spitfireperformance.com
(The cover photo is also from spitfireperformance.com : Spitfire XIV of 414 (RCAF) Squadron, Wunstorf, Germany, April 1945)
As stated in my previous article I am unaware of any Mk VIII’s being in the zone, as these were mostly shipped to the Far East & North Africa. North African units moved up into Italy and into the South of France which is probably about as close as they got to the IL2 Battle of Bodenplatte map zone.
So while some may regret the absence of the MkXIV with some justification, the MkVIII markings offered with the early release MkIXe Spitfire in the game are simply not correct.