Spitfire top fighter plane ever produced.

A Royal Visit to the HQ of RAF Fighter Command at Royal Air Force station Bentley Priory. The operations rooms were in specially made underground bunkers. The home which is located in the London Borough of Harrow was purchased by the RAF in 1926. 

George VI FC with Dowding

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, escorted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, visit the Headquarters of Fighter Command at Bentley Priory, near Stanmore, Middlesex


RAF Station Bentley Priory was finally closed in 2008. Subsequently developed into luxury condominiums. The British Government continues to sell off its historic heritage to private interests which immediately close them to the public. For large sums of money, you can now rent historic rooms in the Palace of Westminster which is the seat of the House of Commons for private parties. This includes the members dining room and bar where Winston Churchill was often found. It really is enough to make a person ill.


Ground crew refueling Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIA, P7420, of No. 19 Squadron RAF from a tractor-drawn petrol bowser at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. This newly-arrived example was one of the few Spitfire Mark IIs to fly operationally with a front-line squadron before the end of the Battle of Britain.


A formation of Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIAs of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron RAF dips their wings as they pass the saluting base during a visit by the Polish President, Władysław Raczkiewicz, to Northolt, Middlesex.


Many Polish Air Force pilots made their way to Great Britain after the German’s overran Poland. In spite of their antiquated aircraft, the Polish Air Force had put up a credible defense. AOC-in-C Dowding of Fighter Command was wary of these pilots at first. Few spoke English and he thought they might be too undisciplined. As it turned out, they learned English quickly and since they had been professional airmen and flying for a number of years they were some of the most experienced fighter pilots the RAF had.

Better, given what the Nazis were doing to their homeland, the Poles had a visceral hatred of the Germans. If they ran out of ammunition and were over England, Polish pilots often rammed German planes then baled out.


Spitfire F Mark XIV, RB159 ‘DW-D’, being flown by the commanding officer of No. 610 Squadron RAF, Squadron Leader R A Newbury, when based at Friston, Sussex.

photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum



Flight Lieutenant Laurie of No. 222 Squadron, Royal Air Force warming up Supermarine Spitfire Mark V, BM202 ‘ZD-H’ “Flying Scotsman”, at North Weald, Essex. This aircraft was the second bearing this name to be paid for from donations made by LNER personnel, arranged through the company’s wartime headquarters at Hitchin.

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)



The Spitfire XII had been in service for over a year when this shot was taken on 12 April 1944 of two Friston-based aircraft from No 41 Squadron. Essentially a Mk V airframe mated to Rolls-Royce’s powerful 1,735hp Griffon engine (which gave it a top speed of about 390mph at 18,00ft), the Mk XII was a low-level interceptor, equipping two home-defence squadrons. By 1944, however, enemy fighter-bomber incursions were rare and the Mk XIIs were being employed on offensive sweeps over northern France.

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

RAF Spitfires Fighting Italians

RAF Spitfires flying over mountainous country south of Rome

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1532) Two Spitfires IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188815


SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1534) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively, flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188817


RAF Spitfires flying over Mount Vesuvius


SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1536) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/RZ-R' and MH635/RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively, flying over Mount Vesuvius. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210937

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944 (TR 1532) Two Spitfire IX’s of No 241 Squadron, Royal Air Force, MA425/`RZ-R’ and MH635/`RZ-U’ piloted by Flying Officers H Cogman and J V Macdonald respectively flying over mountainous country south of Rome. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188815



Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire pilot of No 241 Squadron, Flying Officer W R B McMurray looking at a map in Italy. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum





We Shall Remember Gallant Few of Battle of Britain

“…the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization….”
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the House of Commons.
 18 June 1940

One of the most haunting images from the Battle of Britain is that of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC (above middle) taken immediately after he landed from a combat sortie in September of 1940. (photo courtesy of IWM).

The strain and exhaustion on his face belie his young age (23) and make this one of the best-known and most powerful photographs to come from the era. (photo courtesy of IWM).This was taken during the Battle of Britain at Fowlmere, Duxford’s satellite station.


“Sitting nearest to the Spitfire’s engine on the wing is Brian Lane, who had joined the RAF after escaping a dead-end job as a factory supervisor. He was appointed temporary commanding officer of 19 Squadron, part of the Duxford Wing, in September following the shooting down of its CO. In one logbook entry, he describes an encounter with the enemy in suitably Boys’ Ownish terms.
     “Party over London. Sighted big bunch of Huns south of the river and got in lovely head-on attack into leading He 111s. Broke them up and picked up a small batch of six with two Me 110s as escort. Found myself entirely alone with these lads so proceeded to have a bit of sport. Got one of Me 110s on fire whereupon the other left his charge and ran for home. Played with the He 111s for a bit and finally got one in both engines. Never had so much fun before!”
Lane was awarded a DFC for his bravery and survived the battle, but his luck was not to last. During a sweep over Holland in December 1942 his Spitfire was jumped by Me109s. No one saw his aircraft go down but it was assumed to have dived into the North Sea. Lane was 25.                                                 The men sitting next to Lane on the wing with German Shepherd Flash and spaniel Rangy are George “Grumpy” Unwin and Francis Brinsden, both of whom survived the war. So did the two men standing to the left, Bernard Jennings and Colin McFie – the latter after being shot down and captured during a sweep over France in July 1941.
       Howard Burton, the man in the dark jumper, and Philip Leckrone, the man on the far right, were not so fortunate. Burton went on to serve in the Middle East but died when in June 1943 when the Hudson bomber bringing him back to Britain disappeared over the Bay of Biscay. He was 26.
Leckrone was an American who had chosen to fight for Britain. Known to the boys as Uncle Sam, he went on to join 71 Squadron, an American volunteer unit flying Hurricanes. On 5 January 1941 his aircraft collided with another in the squadron during training and he was killed. He was 28.
      John Boulton (pictured on the left with two fellow pilots and a spaniel leaning on the tail of a Hurricane) was 20 when the battle claimed him. He was flying next to Gordon Sinclair (the man on the right by the tail) over Croydon on September 9 when their aircraft collided. Sinclair survived but Boulton’s aircraft careered into a Me 110 and plunged to earth.
The man in the middle with the moustache is Jerrard Jefferies, who changed his surname to Latimer later in the war to carry on an old family name. He joined the RAF in 1936 and fought in the battle with 310 (Free Czech) Squadron, as did Boulton and Sinclair. After the battle he transferred to Bomber Command and died over France when his Lancaster bomber was shot down. The spaniel in the picture, thought to be called Rex, died when he accidentally jumped into the propeller of Jefferies’ Hurricane as he tried to greet his master.
One of the two pilots pictured seated by a Nissen hut is the only man in the photographs still living. Wallace “Jock” Cunningham is 93 now, but in poor health. The officer next to him is Arthur Blake, a Fleet Air Arm pilot attached to the RAF and known in the wing as Sailor. the Battle of Britain was in its last days when it claimed him. Blake was ‘weaving’ behind his squadron – acting as lookout – when he was surprised by an Me109 and shot down. He was 23 when he met his death.


lest we forget
2353 British and 574 overseas aircrew fought in the battle of britain. 544 were killed between July and October 1940. Another 791 died later in the war, in combat and as a result of accidents.




Brian Lane. The epitome of the gallant few who won the Battle of Britain. Lane was No. 19 Squadron’s fourth Commanding Officer in less than 12 months. Of his predecessors, one was posted away, one was shot down and made a prisoner of war, and one was killed. Lane was extremely well-liked by his men and was a very gifted fighter pilot. He wrote a book about his experiences in the battle, “Spitfire!” which was published in 1942.

Lane was killed in action 13 December 1942. He was 25 years old. (Imperial War Museum)


Brian John Edward Lane

Squadron Leader No. 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

born 18 June 1917–reported missing-in-action presumed dead– 13 December 1942, age 25.  



USS Wasp Supplies Malta Urgently Needed Spitfires

uss wasp in mediterranean flying off urgently needed spitfires to malta.


RAF Spitfire launches from USS Wasp

USS Wasp Twice Resupplied Malta with Spifires


In the early 1930s the British government decided Malta would not be defended if war came. While a major naval base with huge warship repair years for the Royal Navy, no funds were allocated for building up the defenses of Malta. Those defenses which remained from World War One were left to decay.

As you will note from the map above, Malta was a key position if you wanted to control the Mediterranean. And when war came, the British desperately needed to either control the Med or deny its control to other belligerents like Italy or Germany. So the decision not to defend Malta was reversed.


April 1942. A heavily bomb-damaged street in Valletta, Malta. This street is Kingsway, the principle street in Valetta. Service personnel and civilians are present clearing up the debris.  (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Unfortunately for the British, since Malta had few defense installations, actually defending the island required a far greater effort than ever envisioned the Royal Navy and RAF. Both services suffered heavy losses in ships of the former and planes of the latter.


USS Wichita (CA-45) at anchor in Scapa Flow in April 1942. USS Wasp (CV-7) is in the background. The Wichita sortied as part of the Allied escort of one of the PQ convoys to Russia while the Wasp sortied into the Med as described below.

(official US Navy photo)

As valuable as Malta was a naval base, it was even more valuable as an unsinkable aircraft carrier. The only problem was that German and Italian planes attacked the island constantly and kept shooting down all the RAF planes defending Malta.

In April and May of 1942, the British were desperate to send additional aircraft to defend Malta. But no British airfield was close enough so an aircraft carrier had to be loaded with planes and escorted to within about 400 miles of Malta (this being the range of fighter aircraft before running out of fuel) and then launch the aircraft which would fly to the island.

Because of the incredible danger from German and Italian air attacks on shipping, the aircraft carriers would not get closer and even coming within 400 miles was risky. The Med also was infested with numerous German and Italian U Boats.

The British did not have a carrier available so Churchill asked President Roosevelt if an American aircraft carrier could be sent to the Med to perform the urgent task of resupplying Malta with fighter aircraft.

Roosevelt agreed although Admiral King, CNO and C-in-C US Fleet (the only person ever to hold these two offices) no doubt was pissed off since he had an intense dislike of the British. USS Wasp was sent, first going to Great Britain to embark Spitfires. She subsequently entered the Mediterranean heavily escorted by units of the British Home Fleet including the battlecruiser HMS Renown. A very large number of Royal Navy destroyers and sloops formed the screen around the USS Wasp.


19 April 1942. U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 Wildcats from Fighting Squadron 71 (VF-71) and Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfires Mk.Vc of No. 603 Squadron RAF on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) on 19 April 1942. 

(Official US Navy photograph) 

On 19 April 1942, USS Wasp launched 47 Spitfires which flew to Malta (several did not make it). Incredibly, the British forces on the island had no prepared revetments or other safe locations for these precious Spitfires and most were destroyed on the ground by the Germans and Italians within 24 hours.

The military Governor of Malta, Lt. Gen. Dobbie, was sacked several weeks later and replaced by Lord Gort, promoted Field Marshal in 1943 because of his successful leadership of the defense of Malta.


Supermarine Spitfires Mk.VC spotted on the deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) in 1942.  HMS Eagle is visible in the background. 

(official US Navy photograph)

On 9 May 1942, USS Wasp again entered the Med, again heavily escorted by the Royal Navy, and flew off 47 Spitfires. The British had finished refitting HMS Eagle, a World War One battleship converted to an aircraft carrier and she joined the Wasp.

However, HMS Eagle could not carry many Spitfires because they did not have folding wings and did not fit her old lifts. But she did manage to fly off 17 Spitfires which joined the others flown off by the USS Wasp.

This time the British ground forces had prepared protected areas for the Spitfires and each time one landed, it was immediately taken off the runway and parked in a protected revetment.

These aircraft helped save the island which was under continual bombing attacks day and night by German and Italian warplanes.

Sources: The Siege of Malta 1940-1943 by E. Bradford and author’s research

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9581) Supermarine Spitfire pilots in front of one of their planes. They are Empire and American pilots (Eagle Squadron). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143393

Supermarine Spitfire pilots in front of one of their planes. They are Empire and American pilots (Eagle Squadron). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143393


Support the Local Spitfire Fund! Do It Now! Part Two


The Magnificent Fighter Plane Which Helped the Allies to Victory
the Supermarine Spitfire


Awesome shot of a restored Spitfire in 2005.

Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. This aircraft shot down an FW 190 in 1943 while serving with 222 Squadron RAF.

The paragraphs below are from the page “Presentation Spitfires” a section of a comprehensive website with everything you want to know about Spitfires. You can find the site here:



“Buy a Spitfire” funds sprang up overnight, being further encouraged in 1940 by Lord Beaverbrook when he was appointed by Winston Churchill to run the newly-formed Ministry of Aircraft Production. Very soon the streets of every village, town and city resounded with the rattle of collecting tins, as well as assorted donations from overseas. From Accrington to Zanzibar, from Scunthorpe to New Zealand, from Iceland, America, Brazil, South Africa and India the money poured in.

Newspapers started funds amongst their readers urging them to get “their” Spitfire before a rival newspaper, and a running total with full lists of donors and donations was published each week. “From all at No.15 Station Lane”, “My week’s pocket money – Fred Smith aged 7″, “My first week’s old age pension – 10 shillings (50p) towards our Spitfire”. Penny by penny, pound by pound the fund grew, until that magical day when the target was reached, the cheque sent, and the local newspaper proudly published a photograph of the town’s Spitfire.

A Kent farmer charged people sixpence (2½p) “to see the only field in Kent without a German aircraft in it”. During an air raid, the manager of a London cinema pushed a wheelbarrow up and down the aisle, asking for donations, “The more you give, the less raids there will be.”



OBSERVER CORPS, Spitfire Mk. IIA EB-Z ser. no P7666 was  a personal aircraft of Sqn/Ldr Donald Osborne Finlay, Commanding Officer of No. 41 Squadron in Hornchurch. The Observer Corps (not yet called the Royal Observer Corps) managed to raise enough money to purchase two Spitfires.
[Crown Copyright]

(Photo courtesy of http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/presentation-spitfires.html)


During Spitfire fundraising campaigns, you would given a small button or badge when you made a contribution which one proudly wore.



 The Lord Mayor’s Leicester & County Spitfire Fund World War Two

(Photo courtesy http://www.bcclive.hark2dev.com/badges)


a nice lapel pin showing you gave to your Spitfire Fund.

$_57 (1)


Spitfire funds were confined to Great Britain. Colonies and Dominions (which were self-governing as opposed to colonies) set up Spitfire funds as well.




Firing the Wrong Weapon

Spitfire Switch


The Flying Heritage Collection’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VC was equipped with four Browning .303-inch machine guns and two 20 mm cannons. A complex rocker switch mounted on the control stick fired the guns. In the excitement of battle, it was quite easy to hit the wrong part of the “trigger,” thus activating the wrong weaponry. Spitfire pilots came up with a simple solution to memorize the tricky switch; they turned a common acronym into a mnemonic device. “BBC” became their key to good gunnery. An acronym known by most to mean the British Broadcasting Corporation, to Spitfire pilots BBC meant Brownings, Both, Cannon. If a flyer hit the top of the switch, he would get machine guns only (Brownings), press the middle and all guns fired, and the bottom part of the switch activated the cannons alone.



New Zealand RAF Hero Known As the “Defender of London” During the Battle of Britain, part one



“The Defender of London”

Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park

Park was Air Officer commanding the most vital of Fighter Command’s four operational areas, No. 11 Group, which covered south-east England. Park had the hardest of jobs, assessing which attacks posed the most danger and which could be safely ignored. He was careful to commit his squadrons in ones and twos, ensuring enough units remained in reserve to meet subsequent raids. These tactics were effective, but meant the RAF fighters were usually outnumbered in combat. He is seen here later in the war when he became Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Middle East Command. (photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

11 Group was  the critical group command out of the four groups in Fighter Command (10,11,12 & 13). Park had to constantly, and I mean constantly, decide in just a few minutes, seconds even, whether a German raid picked up by RAF radar stations and volunteer observers was real or a diversionary raid designed to draw his fighters away from London or ambush them with a huge number of German fighters.

Writes historian David Wragg in the RAF Handbook:

“…the Luftwaffe would be across the Channel in just six minutes and be over the first of Fighter Command’s 11 Group airfields in south-east England in a quarter of an hour, and while German aircraft would be picked up by radar as they massed over the French coast, it took four minutes for information from the radar stations to reach the airfields and thirteen minutes for a Spitfire to reach 20,000 feet.” 

Air Chief Marshal (as he later became) Sir Keith Park RAF (15 June 1892 – 6 February 1975) was actually a New Zealander. Like many young men in the Empire he answered the call to serve in the British forces in World War One. He first joined the artillery and fought mainly on the Western Front. In 1916 he joined what was then called the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and remained in the new service, renamed after the war as the Royal Air Force.



Replica of Sir Keith Park’s personal Hawker Hurricane on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland.


(Photo taken in 2007 and released into the public by the author.)

According to historian Stephen Bungay in The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain, Park first served in the RFC as an artillery observer which makes sense given his background, and later transferred to fighters. He was credited with shooting down 14 German planes. Park was also shot down twice.

Sir Hugh “Stuffy” Dowding, Air Office Commanding Fighter Command, was a difficult person to get along with at the best of times and one intolerant of incompetence and stupidity of which there was much in the RAF and especially the Air Ministry. It was Dowding who recognized Park’s talents. After serving for several years as Dowding’s Chief Staff Officer, Dowding appointed Park to command 11 Group, which he knew would be the most critical group command when war came.

Says historian Stephen Bungay, “he was uniquely qualified for the job”.



Uniform and medals of Sir Keith Park


Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Flying Cross. Legion of Merit (USA), Croix de guerre (France).