#1550 Spitfire IIa P7350

Spitfire IIa P7350
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£10.00 €11.75 $12.79
43.8 cm x 29.2 cm
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Spitfire IIa
P7350 'KL-B'
54 Sqn; BBMF
RAF Coningsby
UK - Air Force
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Squadron Prints Lithogaph No. 1550 - P7350 'KL-B', Spitfire IIa, 54 Squadron, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

P7350 is the only Spitfire still flying today which actually flew and fought in the Battle of Britain. It was part of the first batch of Spitfires built at the Castle Bromwich ‘shadow’ factory and was taken on charge by the RAF on 13th August 1940. With the Battle of Britain at its height, P7350 served with No 266 Squadron, based at Wittering and Hornchurch, and then with 603 Squadron AuxAF at Hornchurch. On 25th October 1940, whilst being flown by Polish pilot Ludwik Martel, P7350 was hit by cannon fire from a German Me Bf109 and was force-landed, wheels-up, in a field near Hastings. Having being repaired, P7350 continued to fly operationally until April 1942, after which it was used in training roles until being placed in storage in 1944. In 1948 P7350 was sold for scrap for £25, but fortunately it was saved and gifted to a museum. The making of the movie ‘Battle of Britain’ saw Spitfire P7350 emerge from 20 years of dormancy when she was made airworthy to fly in the film. When filming was completed in November 1968, P7350 joined the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight where she remains today.

P7350 now wears the colour scheme of 54 Squadron Spitfire Mk 1 R6895, ‘KL-B’, “KIWI III”, the personal aircraft of New Zealander Al Deere from 10th July 1940 (the official start of the Battle of Britain) until 31st August. On that day Hornchurch was bombed as the Squadron was taking off and Al Deere crashed upside down on the airfield in his “KIWI III”. He was dragged out by a fellow squadron pilot who had crashed the right way up. Subsequently, since all three of his Spitfires named “KIWI” had come to grief, Deere reckoned that it was not bringing him much luck and so he decided not to paint the Kiwi emblem on his later Spitfires. By the end of the war Al Deere had flown almost 700 hours on fighter operations and was officially credited with a total of 22 confirmed kills, 10 ‘probables’ and 18 enemy aircraft damaged. He had survived six forced landings or crashes and three bale-outs! Air Commodore Al Deere DSO OBE DFC and Bar, one of the RAF’s greatest fighter pilots and fighter leaders, died in September 1995, aged 77.