Background to the wartime Spitfire...
During the Second World War the Commandant of the ROC asked for £5,000 to purchase a Spitfire for the RAF. A large sum of money today, a massive sum then. The ROC raised nearly double this amount and the Spitfire was purchased with "Observer Corps" and the ROC badge on the side, similar to the image below. It achieved three kills.
Image of a special version of the ROC Squadron Print as presented to the RAF Club by Mike Thompson.
There were two Spitfires paid for by the Corps during World War Two. This kind of fund raising resulted in 'Presentation Aircraft' carrying an appropriate name.
P7666 coded EB-Z of 41 Squadron which was later operated as KL-Z by 54 Squadron. This was named 'Observer Corps' and is the subject of published photographs whilst with 41 Squadron.
P7837 was the second aircraft and was coded QJ-B of 616 Squadron. It was named 'Observer Corps II' and later, apparently on April 11, 1941, 'Royal Observer Corps II'. It subsequently served with 412 (Canadian) Squadron and 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron, presumably still with the name, until it was written off in a fatal accident November 19th, 1941.
During 1985, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the ROC, Spitfire P7350 of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) was painted to represent the scheme and insignia / name as applied to P7666. I never got particularly close to the aircraft when it was in this scheme but from the Squadron Print, number 133, (see www.squadronprints.com ) I believe the following is a good description.
A thick light blue circle (just less than 20% diameter) edged, inside and out, by a thin yellow line. In the centre is the Elizabethan Beacon Lighter we all know so well. He is on the left in the usual pose (facing you) with his left hand raised to shield the eyes and the right hand holding up the flaming beacon. He is stood on, and all against, green grass near to the edge of a cliff, which runs from 1100 hrs to just after 1500 hrs, beyond which is all light blue in the same shade as the circle.
I believe this to be an accurate representation of what was on P7350 as Squadron Prints do their art work meticulously from a series of close up photographs of each subject aircraft. I do not know, however, where the BBMF got their information from when applying the insignia.
All three Spitfires are Mark IIAs.
David Blades 16/Knutsford
|Source of most of the information:
'Gifts of War - Spitfires and other Presentation Aircraft in two World Wars' by Henry Boot and Ray Sturtivant, ISO. Published by Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd in 2005. ISBN 0 85130 248 3. Still available as at March 2008.
From someone luckier than David...
In September 1985, Obs Lt Ken Algar and I set up the ROC recruitment stand in a display Hangar at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall for their International Air Day which was the next day. Various aircraft had flown in and were parked on the apron or in the hangar. It was our privilege to take a look around the parked aircraft in and outside the hangars. On entering one hangar we saw a beautiful Spitfire and were absolutely amazed to see that it was painted in to colours of EBZ, the Observer Corps Spitfire. It was coded P7350. There was no one around so we both looked around the EBZ Spitfire and even took a photograph of each other standing against this famous aircraft. It was only later that we found out that the Battle of Britain Spitfire had been painted in the original EBZ colours to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the ROC.
Lawrence with one foot on the wing as if about to climb into the cockpit. The colour
scheme, as you can see, was exactly the same as in the original Spitfire P7666.
Famous wartime picture of EBZ with Don Finlay at the side of the aircraft.