Flying Keg Photos

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
Beer Carrying Spitfires!
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 alreadya challenge. Obviously, there was no room in the logistics chain for such luxuries as beeror other types of refreshments. Some men, often called "sourcers", were able to getwine or other niceties "from the land" or rather from the locals. RAF Spitfire pilotscame up with an even better idea. The Spitfire Mk IX was an evolved version of the Spitfire, with pylons under the wings forbombs or tanks. It was discovered that the bomb pylons could also be modified to carrybeer 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 Spitfireflew high enough, the cold air at altitude would even refresh the beer, making it ready forconsumption 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 serviceswere quick to pick up on this, which probably explains the "official" designation.
Mod. XXX tank being filled.
As a result, Spitfires equipped with Mod XXX or keg-carrying pylons were often sent backto Great-Britain for "maintenance" or "liaison" duties. They would then return to Normandywith full beer kegs fitted under the wings. Typically, the British Revenue of Ministry and Excise stepped in, notifying the brewery thatthey were in violation of the law by exporting beer without paying the relevant taxes. It seemsthat Mod. XXX was terminated then, but various squadrons found different ways to refurbishtheir 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, recalledbeer runs while he was flying with 65 Squadron. Every week a pilot was sent back to the UKto fill some cleaned-up drop tanks with beer and return to the squadron. Jonsson hated thebeer runs as every man on the squadron would be watching you upon arrival. Anyone who madea rough landing and dropped the tanks would be the most hated man on the squadron for anentire week.

The Spitfire had very little ground clearance with the larger beer kegs.
In his book "Typhoon Pilot", Desmond Scott also recalls Typhoon drop tanks filled with beer but regretted that it acquired a metallic taste. Less imaginative techniques involved stashing bottles wherever space could be found on theaircraft, which included the ammunition boxes, luggage compartment or even in parts of thewing, with varying results. Champagne bottles in particular did not react well to the vibrationsthey were submitted to during such bootlegging trips.




Desperate times, desperate measures!

Great read.

Latest posts