#1186 Spitfire PR.XIX

Spitfire PR.XIX
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£10.00 €11.68 $12.44
43.8 cm x 29.2 cm
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Spitfire PR XIX
BBMF; 541 Sqn
RAF Coningsby
UK - Air Force
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Squadron Prints Lithograph No.1186, Spitfire PR.XIX, 541 Squadron, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Coningsby. Originally formed at Biggin Hill in July 1957, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is now based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire with a fleet of two Hurricanes, six Spitfires, a Lancaster and a Dakota. The Flights mission is to fly, display and maintain a priceless collection of Historic Royal Air Force aircraft in order to serve as a living memorial to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to represent the RAF both in the United Kingdom and Overseas. PM631 was built at reading as a PR XIX with a Rolls Royce Griffon Mk 66 engine and a pressurized cockpit. From the 20,341 Spitfires produced only 225 were PR Mk XIXs. \'PM\' was delivered to the RAF on 6 November 1945 and was stored until May 1949 when it was issued to No 203 Advanced Flying School. Later, after being modified for Meteorological work, \'PM\' was flown by civilian pilots with the Temperature and Humidity Monitoring (THUM) Flight based at Hooton Park and Woodvale. They made daily ascents to 30,000ft to gather meteorological information. On 11 July 1957, PM631 was flown to Biggin Hill from Duxford by World War Two fighter ace Group Captain Jamie Rankin DSO* DFC*, in formation with two other THUM Flight MK XIX Spitfires, PS853 and PS915, to form the Historic Aircraft Flight which became the BBMF. PM631 is painted to represent an aircraft of No 541 Squadron during the period from late 1944 to early 1945. No 541 Squadron was formed on 19 October 1942 and operated from Benson with detachments to Mount Farm, Leuchars, St Eval, Gibraltar and Lubeck. Equipped with Spitfires, it operated over Europe throughout the rest of the war. Spitfire PR XIXs came into service with the Squadron in January 1944. One of the pilots who flew PR Spitfires with 541 Squadron was Flight Lieutenant Ray Holmes. In common with most other PR pilots, Ray was highly experienced, with some 2,000 flying hours, by the time he was selected for photo-recce duties. He had started flying with the RAF before the war and flew Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain and in Russia. Experience alone did not make the work any safer though and, during his time with 541 Squadron, many of Ray\'s fellow pilots, friends and colleagues, went missing, four of them in only four days in March 1945. Ray told of his feelings in the cockpit as he raced alone towards enemy territory on spying missions, \"... to be hurtling alone towards the enemy at 410 mph was more than sheer loneliness. It was desolation.\" Subsequently, he also said that, though he could never have guessed it at the start of his tour of photo-recce \'ops\', \"It was to be quite the toughest time of my war\". (Ray Holmes died in 2005, aged 90). The 541 Squadron badge features a blue flower - the rare \'Birds-eye Speedwell\' - which is only found high in the mountains, giving rise to the Squadron motto, \"Alone Above All\".
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