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Thread: Shrewsbury Spitfire

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    Default Shrewsbury Spitfire

    Hi, I am a journalist and have been chatting to Mr Wally Milne, ex-118 Squadron, previously with 19 Squadron, who is now 93 and has just returned to England after many years in Zimbabwe. He tells me he was the first pilot to fly a Spitfire bought by the people of Shrewsbury. It was, he says, delivered brand new to 118 Squadron at Filton from the factory, and he flew it on operations from RAF Ibsley during 1941. He tells me it was one of the first cannon-armed Spitfires, a Spitfire IIb.
    Mr Milne has a picture of it somewhere, but currently cannot find it unfortunately. His logbooks which would have given the serial of this machine were lost in various Zimbabwe upheavals.
    Can anybody tell me the full squadron code of the Shrewsbury Spitfire (Mr Milne does have a couple of shots of 118 Sqn Spitfires - NK-K, NK-E, and NK-Y - so if I had the full code I might be able to tell if one of them is or is not the Shrewsbury Spitfire), its serial number, and anything about it, particularly what became of it after Mr Milne left the squadron late in 1941?
    Also, if anybody had a picture of it... well, I'd be a pig in muck!

    hellcat1839

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    Gifts of War - Alphabetical list of presentation Spitfire donors:

    Shrewsbury Spitfire Fund, via the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Shropshire: ,6014 6s 8d
    BL365 - SHREWSBURY
    Air Britain: 610/403/421/340/usaaf/26/41 OTU/58 OTU - To 5381M 13.7.45

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    Here's a copy of what the Spitfire Production site has on BL365, with translations of the abbreviations. There is no mention of 118 Sqn, so perhaps there was more than one Shrewsbury Spitfire.

    Gifts of War, by Boot and Sturtivant, may have more details but I don't have a copy.

    Spitfire BL365
    Mk. Vb (four machine guns, two cannons)
    built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory
    Merlin 45 engine: 1,515 hp (1,130 kW) at 3,000 rpm at 11,000 ft (3,353 m); used in Spitfire Mk.V, PR.Mk.IV and PR.Mk.VII, Seafire Ib and IIc.

    Service History
    No. 24 Maintenance Unit 18-11-41
    610 Sqn 13-2-42
    403 Sqn 16-7-42
    FAAC 25-5-43 (Flying accident, repaired on site, transferred to flying training role)
    RoS 421 Sqn 17-7-43 (Signed over to repair on site crew)
    340 Sqn 21-9-43
    67 Grp USAAF 26-1-44
    26 Sqn 18-12-44
    58 Operational Training Unit 22-3-45 to 5381M (anyone know what this was?) 13-7-45
    Struck Off Charge No. 5 School of Technical Training 29-11-45
    Last edited by dfuller52; 13th July 2010 at 17:04.
    David

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    5381M is a Royal Air Force instructional airframe serial number, when grounded and assigned for a non-flying instructional function it received a new identity.
    Ian Macdonald

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    Default Shrewsbury Spitfire

    Thank you all so much for the information, which does of course put a question mark over whether Mr Milne has correctly remembered the dedication of his aircraft. He has gone to the trouble of finding contemporary newspaper cuttings about the Shrewsbury Spitfire fund and so on, so is obviously certain in his own mind that his aircraft was dedicated to Shrewsbury, and also says he has a photo, which he has shown to others, of his Spitfire clearly showing the dedication to Shrewsbury written in front of the cockpit.
    He has temporarily mislaid that photo but is trying to turn it up for me. Hopefully he'll be able to do so in the next few days as it would confirm that there must have been two Shrewsbury Spitfires.
    I'll keep you posted on developments.

    hellcat1839

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    Henk, I missed reading your note completely, which of course lists the only Shrewsbury Spitfire in Gifts of War. We now have a mystery to solve. Any suggestions, guys?
    David

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    Hello,

    Could it have been something like "borough/county of Shrewsbury" or "Spirit of Shrewsbury" ?

    Or it may not have been an official presentation machine, getting her nickname given by a pilot ? For example, many New-Zealand pilots in 485 Squadron put names on their Spitfire, and while some of their Spitfires were indeed "presentation aircraft" (as recorded in "Gift of War"), some were obviously not.

    My two pence worth.

    Joss

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    Gents

    In my copy of 'Gifts' the 'Shrewsbury' a/c is given as BL863. Nevertheless, still a red herring I think as it was delivered to 54S at Castletown 12th February 1942.

    On a broader front; looking at the serials of a/c known to have been delivered to 118S in early 1941 there seems to have been a mix of IIa and IIb a/c. But the first deliveries of IIas seem to have been second hand a/c ex 66s, with the 'new' IIbs not being delivered until June, after the squadron moved to Ibsley.

    More work required on this!

    regards

    DaveW

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    Default Shrewsbury Spitfire

    Mr Milne has a picture taken during the filming of 'The First of the Few' at RAF Ibsley of actor David Niven and somebody else looking into a Spitfire with 'Borough of Wanstead & Woodford' written on it near the cockpit. It would be a Spitfire of 118 Squadron or 501 Squadron, who shared the base at the time - probably the latter as he says they used 501 Squadron Spitfires in the film, for continuity purposes as I understand it. His recollection is that the form of words was generally 'City of...' or 'Borough of...' but says that on his Spitfire it simply said 'Shrewsbury'.
    hellcat1839

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    BOROUGH OF WANSTEAD & WOODFORD P8789 'As 501 Sqn (SD-E)' for film but actually 118 Sqn, 65 Sqn crashed in sea 1-6-42. name transferred to AA882
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 14th July 2010 at 15:28.

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