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Piece of Cake (TV) is a six part LWT miniseries based on the novel by Derek Robinson.[1]

InfoEdit

Widely regarded as one of the very best television series produced in Britain about men at war, Piece of Cake follows the young Spitfire pilots of Hornet Squadron during the first year of World War Two

Led by flamboyant new Squadron leader Rex, Hornet Squadron are dispatched to France - but what starts out as a grand adventure for the untested young pilots soon turns into a grim daily battle for survival.

CastEdit

EpisodesEdit

September 1939Edit

For full details, see Episode 1

  • After a tragic start to their war, and the death of their old Squadron Leader, Hornet Squadron embarks for France.

October 1939Edit

For full details, see Episode 2

  • As the boredom of the Phoney War sets in, The pilots fill their time with reckless deardevil stunts – and pay the price.

December 1939Edit

For full details, see Episode 3

  • Hornet Squadron is elated when it achieves it’s first kill, but a full scale dogfight with Me 109’s quickly brings home the horrors of war.

March 1940Edit

For full details, see Episode 4

  • Squadron morale is collapsing as casualties mount – and Squadron Leader Rex, pumped full of morphine, makes a fatal error of judgement…

May 1940Edit

For full details, see Episode 5

  • The surviving members of Hornet Squadron return home to England, where tensions between the pilots rise to breaking point…

August 1940Edit

For full details, see Episode 6

  • Hornet Squadron is plunged into the maelstrom of the Battle of Britian, and faces it’s greatest challenge…

Differences between the miniseries and the novelEdit

There are a number of differences between the novel and the Miniseries. The most notable are listed here.

Difference Novel Miniseries
Aircraft used by Hornet Squadron Hawker Hurricane Mk-1s Various Marks of Supermarine Spitfire, intended to represent Mk-1s.[N 1]
'Skull' Skelton Assigned to Hornet Squadron after war is declared, arriving during 'Fanny' Barton's brief stint as CO following the death of The 'Ram'. Already assigned to Hornet Squadron before war was declared, and witnessed Ramsey's accident from the Ops building at RAF Kingsmere.
US newspaper reporter Jackie Bellamy Makes frequent visits to Hornet Squadron both in France and England Not featured
Barton's nationality New Zealand Australia
Marriage of 'Flash' Gordon to Nicole and 'Fitz' Fitzgerald to Mary These weddings occurred separately - Flash and Nicole in late January 1940, Fitz and Mary at the end of April. Double wedding with joint reception. Celebration cut short by Luftwaffe fighter attack.
German Air Sea Rescue Plane Heinkel He 59 Junkers Ju-52
Announcement of cause and timing of Flash's death [N 2] Barton tells CH3 it was delayed shock', occurring 'half an hour ago.' Kellaway tells Barton and CH3 that it was 'Post operational shock', and that the death was 'a couple of hours ago.'
Discussion of possible German invasion of United Kingdom Concentrates on methods and timings of bring German troops across the Channel Concentrates on German movements after coming ashore
Circumstances of the destruction of 'Moggy' Cattermole's aircraft by a Messerschmitt Bf-109 Destroyed at high altitude, shortly after being attacked by Supermarine Spitfire while chasing a Heinkel He 111. Destroyed while flying past the airfield at low level.
Status of Hart at the end of Piece of Cake Still alive. He assists Barton with an attack of incoming bombers. Dead. Forced to bail out due to damage to aircraft, and last seen falling to earth with his parachute in flames.
Ending of Piece of Cake Barton and CH3 resuming their attack on the bombers. Kellaway and the pilots discuss recent events after the raid, followed by a slow pull back with narration by Kellaway.

Use of NS Squadron CodesEdit

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Image of Spitfire P8348 wearing NS codes[2]

During the early scenes of Episode 1, the various Spitfires wear Squadron Identification Codes NS,[N 3] which, at the time Piece of Cake starts, had been allocated to 159 Squadron, a bomber unit that didn't actually come into existence until 2 January 1942[4] The earliest known example of a Spitfire with NS codes is Mark IIB P8348 NS-Y,[4] which had been donated by British and Friends Ex Japan, and was photographed with NS codes while searving with No. 52 Operational Training Unit at Aston Down, Gloucestershire.[2]

NotesEdit

  1. Spitfires were used due to the lack of airworthy Hurricanes - of the three flyable examples in exsistance at the time, one was in a Canadian museum, and the other two were operated as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, and were subject to restrictions on flying hours. A plan to use scaled down replicas was abandoned due to the unrealistic nose shape resulting from the use of flat four engines.
  2. Flash's name is wiped from the blackboard by Kellaway in both versions
  3. For the Miniseries, these were made from Fablon, and stuck onto the fuselage. However, the need to constantly change them between shots, as well as their tendancy to either disintigrate or fly off in mid air - ocassionally taking paint with them - caused so many problems for the production staff that they were abandoned.[3] (The in story explanation for the removal was to prevent a repeat of the squadron being identified in the event of a friendly fire incedent, similar to the Battle of Southend Sands)

SourcesEdit

  1. Wikipedia entry
  2. 2.0 2.1 IWM Website
  3. How they Made Piece of Cake, Page 68.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lake, Alan. Flying Units of the RAF. Airlife Publishing. 1999.