Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spitfires on a Mission

The creativity of front line troops has always be an inspiration to me.

Example, free beer has been offered to troops by the British brewey, Heneger and Constable. The men are delighted to avail themselves of this generous gift. But sometimes it's difficult for a product to reach eager consumers.

It seems the priority of supplies being shipped to the troops in France following the D-Day Invasion was not universally accepted. Beer was low on the list. Leave it to a bunch of fun loving but thirsty fighter pilots to find a solution.

The Aircraft pictured here is a Mk. IX Spitfire. The protrusions on the bottom of the wings are pylons intended to attach 'external stores' to the aircraft. Supermarine and the RAF had envisioned extra fuel tanks (drop tanks) and bombs.

Yes dear readers, this one is carrying beer kegs.

It is unclear whether the kegs could be jettisoned in case of emergency, but you could be sure any pilot who arrived without them would have an emergency on the ground. There was one unintended advantage to moving beer this way, colder tempters at higher altitudes meant the beer was properly chilled on landing.

So Spitfires were making trips back to England for 'Maintenance' or 'liaision duties' and returning with joy. It ddn't take long for someone to come up with a special 'drop tank' for carrying beer. These were marked XXX to avoid problems. According to some sources these sometimes gave the beer a metallic taste.

Of course with photos like this one you know the good times had to come to an end. The tax man called on the brewery to have a little talk. It seems free beer for troops in England is one thing, but duties had to be paid on beer going to France.

So, did the beer lift stop? Get real! I would be willing to bet it continued but they just got sneakier.