Robert R. Stanford-Tuck:
Robert R. Stanford-Tuck, with 30 victories one of the top RAF aces of
the Second World War, joined the RAF in 1935 at age 19 on a short service
commission, following two years at sea as a cadet
Tuck did not at first take to flying, and was nearly “bowler-hatted”
for not soloing until he had 14 hours.
From there on it was “tea and biscuits” as they say.
After training on the Avro Tutor, Hawker Hart, Hawker Fury and the
Bulldog, Tuck passed out of No. 3
at Grantham with the highest rating available -
Posted to 65 Squadron at Hornchurch in July 1936, Tuck flew Demons
until they were replaced at the end of the year with Gloster Gauntlets,
followed in late 1937 by Gladiators. During this period, Tuck was involved
in a mid-air collision during formation aerobatics training, and again came
close to being kicked out of the service, but was found not to have been at
fault in the accident. Shortly
thereafter, 65 Squadron re-equipped as the second squadron to use the
Spitfire I shortly after the
By the outbreak of war in September 1939, Tuck had several hundred
hours on Spitfires. Confined to
during the period of the “Phoney War,” Tuck was promoted to Flight
Lieutenant and transferred to 92 Squadron in the Spring of 1940 to take over
Red Flight lead. He first got a
taste of the war on May 16, when he and his two wingmen were given top
secret orders to fly to Hendon, where they were assigned as fighter escort
to an un-armed twin-engined Flamingo.
This turned out to be Winston Churchill’s flight to France following
his acceptance as Prime Minister, to try and prevail on Paul Reynaud to hold
out in the face of the German blitzkrieg that had been unleashed six days
earlier. They returned,
unsuccessful, the next day and Tuck’s flight returned to their squadron.
With the British Expeditionary Force forced to retreat to
for evacuation by the Royal Navy, Tuck’s first aerial combat took place over
23 May 1940.
On this first mission, he shot down a Bf-109E.
On a second mission that afternoon, he shot down two Bf-110s, with a
third 110 shot down on the final mission of the day.
Having chased that last opponent inland, Tuck had become separated
from his flight and ended up in combat without ammo with two Bf-109s which
he outflew on a daring low-level escape across the Channel back to England.
92 Squadron was in 11 Group, and over the summer Tuck took part in
numerous combats over the Channel.
His combat success continued: a shared Do17 on July 8th; a
damaged Ju88 on July 25th; a shared Ju88 on August 13th
and two destroyed Ju88’s on the 14th. On August 18th,
Tuck attacked a group of Ju88’s over
shooting down one and damaging another. During the fight, his Spitfire was
hit by return fire and he baled out just east of Tunbridge Wells where he
was slightly injured from the landing.
He was involved in another incident on August 25th, 15
miles off the coast over the Channel; his Spitfire was badly damaged while
attacking and destroying a Do17, which he destroyed.
With a dead engine and the alternative of a likely-fatal dunking in
the Channel, Tuck glided back to the coast to make a forced landing on the
On September 11th, at the height of the
Tuck was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to command 257 Squadron
based at Debden. 257 had been through heavy combat and was in a sorry state
on Tuck’s arrival, having lost their C.O. in combat.
He checked out in a Hurricane the next day and put the pilots through
some intensive flying during the three days “down time” they were given.
September 15, 1940,
257 returned to combat. Leading
the squadron into combat over London, Tuck shot down a Bf-110 and a probable
Bf109. (In 1978, the Aircraft Recovery Group excavated the remains of a
Bf-109 22 feet deep in the marshes, still containing the remains of the
pilot, Lt. Werner Knittle; after considerable research, it was determined
this was the Bf-109 Tuck had claimed on September 15, bringing his official
wartime score to 30.)
On September 23rd Tuck claimed another Bf-109, a Ju88 on
October 4th a Bf109 on October 12th and a Bf-109 and
two damaged on October 25th. His final victories in the
were on October 28th, he claimed two “probable” Bf109’s.
Tuck remained with 257 Squadron until May, 1942, when he was promoted
to Wing Commander and given command of the Duxford Wing.
That October he was taken off operations after more than a year of
steady combat and sent to the United States to tour American flight training
schools and lecture on air combat.
He also flew all of the American fighters as part of an Air Ministry
Tuck returned at the end of November 1941 and was given command of
the Biggin Hill Wing, the premiere organization in Fighter Command, a unit
with four Spitfire Squadrons.
January 27, 1942,
he was shot down by ground fire over
while on a “Rhubarb” and taken prisoner by the Germans.
In January 1945, as the prisoners in Stalag Luft
were marched west in the face of the advancing Red Army, Tuck and three
comrades escaped in a snow storm and hid in the woods, then made their way
across the lines into Poland.
They nearly starved before being able to give themselves up to Soviet
infantry, who nearly shot them at first.
Tuck was back in
in April 1945, and began flying Vampires and Meteors at Tangmere and
In 1946 he was promoted Station Commander at Coltishall, then moved
with the outbreak of the Malayan Emergency.
He retired from the R.A.F. in 1949.
In 1989, I had the privilege of meeting Wing Commander Tuck when he
was brought to the United States by Virginia Bader, niece of Douglas Bader
and at the time a well-known gallery owner here in Los Angeles, promoting
aviation art. Tuck came with
Johnny Johnson, who turned out to be as condescending to “colonials” as I
had been told he was by a couple of old RCAF pilots who had served under
him. “Bob” Tuck (as he told
everyone to call him) was the polar opposite and a real hit with his
American audience; Johnson on the other hand was a good reminder why my
ancestors gave those people the boot 230 years ago.
Hasegawa has released just about every version of the Hurricane ever
produced (other than the two-seaters), either in large runs or in limited
editions like this Hurricane Mk. I Trop.
I merely used this kit because it was available at the LHS during the
estate sale of the possessions of a kit collector who has moved on to the
Big Hobby Shop in the Sky, and was priced to sell at $19.95.
It also has the deHavilland prop with the smaller, more pointed
spinner, rather than the bulbous Rotol prop, which was what I needed for
this project. The kit provides decals for two different tropical Hurricanes
and you can see a review I did of this kit earlier in the reviews section of
I dragged the Aeromaster “Early Hurricane Aces of the British Empire
out of the decal dungeon for this project.
There are numerous reviews here of building the Hasegawa Hurricane.
For me, these are the two most important points:
Hasegawa is noted for excellent engineering of their kits, and the
Hurricanes are no exception. The one problem of the kit is that when the
lower wing assembly was designed, it cut straight across through the
underfuselage fabric effect, rather than along a panel line; this means a
modeler must putty the area and sand off carefully. I find that the fact
there is exhaust staining seen on the lower rear fuselage in nearly every
photo provides the chance to hide this with weathering at the end of
Additionally, the kit is designed to have the canopy closed. When
using the Squadron canopy - which is crucial if you want the canopy opened -
a modeler needs to build up the area that would be under the canopy aft of
the headrest, to get rid of the noticeable ridge. Checking photos in either
of the references noted above makes this easy. Beyond this, if a modeler
follows the kit instructions for the variant being created, the result will
be an excellent model.
The instructions in the Aeromaster sheet stated that this airplane
was done in the “B” camouflage scheme, which I freehanded using Xtracrylix
“Dark Earth,” “RAF Dark Green.” and “Sky.”
Since the original airplane was only in service a bit more than 8
weeks, I didn’t “ding” it, but did apply exhaust stains.
As said above, applying stains to the lower rear fuselage covers the
problem of the seam in the middle of the fabric there.
I particularly liked that this sheet had V6555, Tuck’s first
Hurricane that he flew with 257 Squadron, rather than the better-known
V6864. Tuck scored most of his
victories during the time he led 257 in the
in this airplane. The sheet has
an extensive and petite stencil section, which I also appreciated.
The decals went on easily though they did need a coat of Solvaset at
the end to finally settle down in the engraved panel lines, being Cartograf
and a bit thick.
The landing gear was attached along with the prop.
The Squadron canopy was cut free and then the canopy and windscreen
were separated, and attached in the open position.
It’s a Hasegawa Hurricane - what’s not to like?
The kit is easy to build, and if you score some of the old Aeromaster
sheets that are still out there to be found at shows or older hobby shops or
on EvilBay, there’s a plethora of markings possibilities.
Review kit courtesy of my wallet.