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Thread: Spitfire P9550 - 1401 Met Flight

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    Default Spitfire P9550 - 1401 Met Flight

    This aircraft has come up in three threads recently, including one I incorrectly titled Spitfire P9559 (finger trouble), so I'm starting a new thread with the correct number. AIR2/4752 "Meteorological reconnaissance flights over enemy territory" does not identify the aircraft number or the name of the pilot but .... .

    The various entries in the file reveal that no one seemed to know exactly what was going on. The Spitfires for the PAMPA sorties were delivered in August 1941 - unfortunately without pilots. The subsequent months were taken up with the niff-naff of administration, and even as late as mid-November those involved in the exchanges of correspondence were looking to the end of the month for the first sortie.

    Consequently it came as something of a surprise to them to find the first sortie had already taken place - and the aircraft was missing. The flight was scheduled to take-off at 11.15 (ATD 1132) and return to Hawkinge at 1500 - a planned flight time of 3 hours 45 minutes. The forecast at briefing gave a climbing wind of 300 60 mph, and an en route wind at 30000 ft of 290/80 to 08E then 270/80 - no cloud or weather details were included. The purpose of the flight was to find the height of the cloud tops and the extent of the cloud.

    As the flight was planned for a point beyond 08E, and the aircraft's range was probably about 500 miles, this suggests somewhere like the Hamburg, Bremen or Hannover areas was the intendeed turning point.

    Did Bomber Command fly an operation that night, because if it did the target was almost certainly the end point of the PAMPA sortie?

    Let's hope Hendon comes up with something positive in respect of the pilot's name.

    Brian

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    Brian,

    I understand Berlin (169), Cologne (75) and Mannheim (55 bombers) were the target towns of Bomber Command in the night of 7/8 November 1941.

    Regards,

    Leendert

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    Thanks Leendert.

    Since Cologne and Mannheim are close to 08E, that almost certainly means he was checking the route to Berlin. Anyone any idea of the route taken by BC that night? I'm thinking that in a single engined a/c, his probable route would have been mostly over land. In which case, if the aircraft had crashed his body would have been found had he died. Since there's no entry on the CWGC that fits, it continues to point to him becoming a POW.

    Brian

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    According to http://www.lesbutler.ip3.co.uk/tony/tonywood.htm, Uffz Heinz Richter of Stab/JG 26, claimed a Spitfire at 1510 (probably CET) on 7 November 1941, the aircraft crashing 2 km north of Etaples.

    Can anyone identify the Spitfire please? As P9550 was expected to return to Hawkinge, there is a faint possibility that Richter's claim could have been this aircraft returning early for some reason.

    Brian

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    Hello Brian

    I note from http://www.lesbutler.ip3.co.uk/tony/tonywood.htm in the section on RAF Fighter command 1941, that P/O H.Birkland RCAF, 72 Sqn, was shot down near Berck-s-Mer and taken prisoner. He'd been flying Spitfire W3367.

    Have you tried AIR 28/345 Hawkinge ORB? Some kindly scribe may have noted the fact that one of the a/c from their Station was missing!

    Kind regards
    Pierre

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pierre Renier View Post
    Hello Brian

    I note from http://www.lesbutler.ip3.co.uk/tony/tonywood.htm in the section on RAF Fighter command 1941, that P/O H.Birkland RCAF, 72 Sqn, was shot down near Berck-s-Mer and taken prisoner. He'd been flying Spitfire W3367.

    Have you tried AIR 28/345 Hawkinge ORB? Some kindly scribe may have noted the fact that one of the a/c from their Station was missing!

    Kind regards
    Pierre
    and later murdered after the "Great Escape"

    J5233 F/L Henry J Birkland, Canadian, born 16-Aug-17, 72 Sqdn, (shot down 7-Nov-41, Spitfire Vb, W3367), recaptured near Sagan, last seen alive 31-Mar-44;

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    Thank you gentlemen, that rules out that possibility.

    Pierre,

    Thank you for your suggestion, but P9550 was based at Bircham Newton, not Hawkinge. Hawkinge only comes in to the story as it was intended to be the Spitfire's landfall after leaving enemy territory. Had P9550 completed its sortie it would have been extremely low on fuel after being airborne for nearly four hours, and would have needed a top-up.

    Brian

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    Hello Brian

    Looking at the listings in AIR 28/70-77 for Bircham Newton, there appear to be a number of appendices which might prove very useful if not the ORB itself. When I had the opportunity to look at those for St. Eval/Thorney Island some years ago they sometimes went as far as giving details of the pilot if subsequently reported missing/overdue, along with serials and letter codes.

    Kind regards
    Pierre

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    Pierre, I've PM'd you.

    Brian

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    I've received a reply from the RAF Museum in response to my request for athe F1180 for P9550, and unfortunately there does not appear to be one. Which means we are no further forward. The lack of any unaccountable name on the CWGC still suggests to me that the pilot survived.

    Mmmmm...

    Brian

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