Hinckley Spitfire

The Hinckley Spitfire had a long and varied career with the RAF during World War 2, paid for by generous donations made by the Hinckley & District Hosiery Manufactures Association.

Hinckley Spitfire Mk2a Rolls-Royce Merlin
The Hinckley Spitfire Mk2a P.7916

Hinckley's Supermarine Spitfire had a long and varied career with the Royal Air Force during World War 2. Designated P.7916 it was built at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham and powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin XII engine. It was armed with eight wing-mounted Browning .303 machine guns.

22nd February 1941 The plane was assigned to 145 Squadron stationed at Tangmere to be piloted regularly by a Flight Lieutenant Newling who took it on patrols around the Selsey, Shoreham, Littlehampton, Beachy Head and St.Catherines Head areas. There were also some convoy and offensive patrols that it was involved with at the time.

March 1941 Douglas Bader took over the command at Tangmere and during his command the Spitfire flown by a Sergeant Johnson crashed on landing on 27th March 1941. However it was quickly repaired and was 'up and flying' with the same pilot three days later.

28th May 1941 The Squadron moved to Merston and patrols carried on but the plane was used by other pilots for the many practices which had to be carried out. The included scrambles, mock interceptions and dog-fights, and aerobatics and gunnery. Among its pilots was Squadron Leader Leather.

In the first of its many transfers it was sent to 485 Squadron at Leconfield which was manned by New Zealanders. The records are bit thin on its career with the 485 Squadron but it was flown over France in sweeps to engage the enemy and also flown on convoy patrols.

August 1941 Found P.7916 with 130 Squadron at Portreath in Cornwall. The C.O. Squadron Leader C.J.Donovan seems to have taken a liking to the 'Hinckley Spitfire' as on-one else records having flown it until mid-October. He flew her on convoy patrols, operations over France and practice attacks on troop-carrying gliders. Dovovan was replaced as C.O. by Squadron Leader Gibbs on 9th October 1941 and he too used the plane a great deal. At the end of that month the Squadron moved to Harrowbeer, also in Cornwall, where Pilot Officer Arnott became a regular pilot of the 'Hinckley Spitfire' flying on sweeps and patrols.

17th November 1941 The Hinckley Spitfire joined the newly-formed 133 Squadron, known as the Eagle Squadron where it spent a lot of time with practice on formation flying, scrambles, interceptions, aerobatics and air-firing interspersed with the occasional convoy patrols during December.

Painting by Mark Postlethwaite of the Hinckley Spitfire
Painting by Mark Postlethwaite of the Hinckley Spitfire

31st December 1941 The Spitfire joined yet another Squadron seeing the New Year in with 134 Squadron which had just returned from Russia. They had left their own Hurricanes with the Soviet forces after helping them to familiarise with the aircraft.

On reforming, the Squadron carried out many operational practices together with convoy patrols to the north of Ireland. Both 133 and 134 Squadrons were stationed at Eglington in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

26th March 1942 The 134 Squadron moved to Baginton and soon after the plane left the Squadron. Over the next two years it was stationed at various Officer Training Units in Northern England. These were respectively 57, 52 and 58 O.T.U's unfortunately there are no flight records for this period.

30th June 1944 The Hinckley Spitfire left 58 O.T.U. to be flown a the Fighter Leaders School at Milfield. This establishment was opened in January 1944 by Air Chief Marshal T.Leigh-Mallory who was Air Commander-in-Chief Allied Expeditionary Air Force. His words were 'to train officers in the code-name for the planned invasion on the mainland of Europe and took place on the 6th June 1944.

26th January 1945 The Hinckley Spitfire reached the end of her career when she was declared to have 'deteriorated beyond repair'. She survived a long time by the standards of these days due to the flying skill of her pilots and the excellent work of the ground crews and gave valuable service to her country both in combat and the training of new pilots.

Supermarine Spitfire

'The First of the Few' - A short film shot at RAF Ibsley on the western edge of the New Forest during the late summer of 1941.

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries during and after the Second World War.

January 1935 The Air Ministry accepted a design for a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft with a Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 engine and an eight-gun battery. The design was done by Reginald J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works.

5th March 1936 The prototype first flew.

June 1937 Reginald would not live to see the Spitfire in action during the Battle of Britain, he died at the age of 42.

July-October 1940 During The Battle of Britain the Spitfire achieved legendary status, a reputation aided by the famous "Spitfire Fund" organised and run by Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister of Aircraft Production. Whenever possible, Spitfires were used to counter German escort fighters, particularly the Bf 109s, while the Hurricane squadrons attacked the bombers.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hawker Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres.

Throughout the life of the Spitfire until the 1950s there were 24 marks of Spitfire and many sub-variants. These covered the Spitfire in development from the Merlin to Griffon engines, the high-speed photo-reconnaissance variants and the different wing configurations.

During the operational life of the Spitfire it was flown by some well-known pilots the included Douglas Bader, 'Johnnie' Johnson, 'Bob' Tuck, Paddy Finucane, George Beurling, 'Sailor' Malan, Alan Deere and Hugo Armstrong.

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