Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1A/AR213/JZ-E/(G-AIST)
AR213 started life at the Westland Aircraft factory and having rolled off the production line at Yeovil, it was delivered on the 24th July 1941 to No.12 MU aircraft storage depot at Kirkbride. With the Mk.1 Spitfire being superseded by later and better models, AR213 was relegated to training duties. It arrived at No 7 Operational Training Unit at Harwarden, Flintshire on the 31st July 1940 with the fuselage code letters of JZ-E and was used to train new pilots for fighter and fighter-reconnaissance roles. No.7 OTU was re-numbered No.57 OTU in December 1940. On the 20th February 1943, AR213 was flown to South Wales and its new home with No.53 OTU at RAF Llandow with the code letters of QG-A. Following a flying accident on the 19th April and subsequent repairs, AR213 returned on the 12th May to No.53 OTU which had now moved to RAF Kirton-in-Lindsay, Lincolnshire. Unfortunately AR213 suffered another flying accident on the 12th November, and following more repairs, returned to No.53 OTU on the 10th December. AR213 saw out the rest of its service life with No.53 OTU until the 17th August 1944 when it was delivered to No.8 MU at RAF Little Rissington and was finally Struck of Charge on the 30th November 1945.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1A/AR213/JZ-E/(G-AIST)
Over the years, AR213 had been fitted with various non-standard, to a Mk.1 Spitfire, parts in order to keep it flying. Most notably were the late version Merlin engine with six exhaust stubs instead of three and a four bladed propeller instead of three blades and different cockpit and undercarriage details. A decision was taken to return AR213 to as near Mk.1 specification as possible and a six year restoration by Personal Plane Services at Booker followed culminating in a 20 minute test flight by Jonathan Whaley on the evening of the 12th November 2007. Following successful test flights finished in a green primer with G-AIST in black letters on the rear fuselage, AR213 was painted in the war time camouflage markings it carried at No.57 OTU with the fuselage codes of JZ-E. This was the personal aircraft of Battle-of-Britain ace, Flt Lt James Henry ‘Ginger’ Lacey when he was Commander of ‘E’ Flight with the OTU having been posted away from the front line and combat operations for a rest from August 1941 to March 1942.
Following the death of the Rt Hon P Lindsay on the 9th January 1986, it was re-registered to The Honarable Anabel Mary Maud Lindsay on the 6th October 1987. AR213 was eventually sold in April 1989 and registered to Proteus Petroleum Aviation Ltd on the 22nd January 1990 with a change of name to Proteous Holdings Ltd in 1992 and flying in the markings of PR-D of No.609 Sqdn. AR213 was registered to its current owners, Sheringham Aviation UK Ltd, on the 10th May 1996.
After surviving the war years, AR213 also escaped the scrap mans torch and was bought by Group Captain Allen Henry Wheeler and on the 25th October 1946 was allocated the civilian registration of G-AIST. Between 1946 and 1967, AR213 spent its life in storage, first in a dismantled state at Old Warden and in 1963 moved to RAF Abingdon where it was restored to static condition. On the 4th July 1949 the registration was cancelled and it wasn’t until the 17th April 1968 that it was reinstated. Following a survey of the aircraft for possible use in ‘The Battle of Britain’ film, a bit of damage to the centre section spar was found and corrected, AR213 returned to the air at RAF Henlow. Following its role in the film, and temporary home at Duxford, it was flown to Booker in its BoB film markings of N3311/AI-B where it was to be based. Wartime markings of ‘QG-A’ it carried with No.53 OTU were applied and was flown for several years by AH Wheeler before a change of ownership and AR213 was registered to the Rt Hon Patrick Lindsay on the 14th June 1974.
Update: April 2013
As part of the 70th anniversary of the United States Army Air Force arriving at RAF Duxford in April 1943 a four-ship display team called the ‘Eagle Squadron’ is being formed to display at the Spring and Flying Legends air shows. It consists of a Hurricane, Spitfire, P-51 Mustang and a P-47 Thunderbolt.
Spitfire Mk Ia/AR213/JZ-E has returned to 3 hangar at Duxford, following a trip down to the ARCo paint bay, in the guise of Spitfire Mk IIa/ P7308/XR-D of No.71 ‘Eagle’ Squadron, which were formed when American pilots joined the Royal Air Force at the start of the Second World War. No.71 Squadron operated Spitfires out of North Weald from June 1941 until September 1942 when the ‘Eagle’ squadrons were disbanded when the USA enter the war in Europe.
P7308/XR-D was the mount of Pilot Officer William R. Dunn who by August 1941 had became an ‘ace’ by downing six Luftwaffe aircraft first in a Hurricane then a Spitfire. While flying in P7308/XR-D over France on the 27th August 1941, Dunn was engaged in air to air combat with Me.109s and was severely shot up but managed to fly his damaged aircraft back across the channel and made an emergency landing at Hawkinge. His injuries consisted of two machine gun bullet holes in his calf, part of his right foot blown off by a 20mm shell and a crease in the back of his head from a machine gun bullet. Following a spell in hospital, he travelled to America and when medically fit was posted to Canada to train RAF pilots before joining the USAAF on disbandment of the Eagle Squadrons. William R. Dunn retired from the USAF in 1973.