Spitfire beer runs

May 30th, 2013  

Topic: Spitfire beer runs

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 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.

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.

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 done with the unofficial approval of higher echelons.
In his book Dancing in the Skies, Tony Jonsson, the only Icelancer 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.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Spitfire1.jpg (32.1 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Spitfre2.jpg (55.9 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Spitfire3.jpg (54.2 KB, 10 views)
May 30th, 2013  
Ah yes, the transportation of beer.
The Chieftain MBT had bag charge containers,that were filled with coolant.
This kept the beer very cool, in even the hottest weather.
May 31st, 2013  
Thankfully either in the Far East, Malta or Cyprus I was never far away from nice cold beers.
September 17th, 2013  
Retired CWO
As a young Soldier in Vietnam, stationed near Saigon in 1966, it seemed the only beer we could get for a few months was Australian Beer, and the Australian Soldiers were complaining that the only beer they could get was warm American Black Label Beer.
September 18th, 2013  
I cant say as I blame the Aussies on that one how people can drink warm beer is beyond me.
September 18th, 2013  
The Highway Man
Warm beer is disgusting, It's got to be ice cold or it's not worth drinking.
September 19th, 2013  
When going on leave to Penang many years ago, I put a case of Tiger Beer in the boot of the car. After an over night stop in Kuala Lumper my buddies and I decided to break open the beer, it was disgusting to say the least. I still remember the foul taste.

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