KITS 04/2022

Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop, ER200 (probably), Lt. Col. Fred M. Dean, CO of 31st FG, Korba, Tunisia, May 1943

The personal aircraft of Col. Fred Dean is the good

sample of the camouflage and markings of the

American Spitfires in North Africa. The camouflage

consists of the patterns of Dark Earth and Middle

Stone on the upper surfaces and Azure Blue on the

lower surfaces. The propeller spinner was white. The

national insignia featured yellow outlines and code

letters were white. The aircraft depicts the aircraft

as it appeared in May 1943, just after the fighting in

Tunisia ceased. Shortly afterwards, on June 28, the

change of insignia took place as white rectangles

on the sides and red outlines were added. Fred Dean

commanded 31st FG for eight months since December

5, 1942. In July 1943 he handed over the leadership to

Lt. Col. Frank Hill, who up until then was commanding

309th FS as a Major. Frank Hill was one of 31st FS

aces, credited with 6.5 individual kills, 3 shared and

4 probables. After he handed over the command Fred

Dean returned to the United States and joined General Arnold’s staff. On May 31, 1943, he was decorated

with Silver Star.

Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop, ES353, Capt. Jerome S. McCabe, 5th FS, 52nd FG, Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force (MACAF),

La Sebala, Tunisia, June 1943

Same as the majority of 5th FS Spitfires, this Mk.Vc

ES353 sported the RAF tail cockade on its vertical tail

surfaces. Worth of notice is the unusual combination

of dark, apparently red propeller spinner and yellow

outlined national insignia. The red spinners were in-

troduced in the Mediterranean only in the end of 1943

while yellow outlined national insignia were replaced by red oulined ones with side rectangles as early

as June 28, 1943. Capt. McCabe’s personal insignia

was painted under the canopy in the form of Christ’s

cross with motto in Latin: IN HOC SIGNO VINCES (In this

sign thou shalt conquer). This symbolism reminds us

of the Battle of Milvian bridge between emperors

Constatin I and Maxentius in 312. By the way, this motto is part of the city of Pilsen coat of arms.

Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop, ER570, Maj. Robert Levine, 4th FS, 52nd FG, Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force (MACAF),

La Sers, Tunisia, August 1943

Spitfire Mk.Vb ER570 flown by 4th FS commander Maj.

Robert Levine sported the hand-painted American

flag on both sides of the fuselage. This was to ensure

that local population can better recognize it belonged

to the American air force. Unlike the French, the local population was friendly towards the Americans.

April 2022

These markings were carried until August 1943 when

52nd FG was already part of MACAF. The overpainted

British tail cockade is clearly visible on the vertical

tail surfaces. Levine was credited with three victories,

all achieved on Spitfires. Among those was a Fw 190

shot down on January 8, 1943. On December 28, 1943,

Levine led the first 52nd FG dive bombing mission. In

February 1944, already a Colonel, he became the commander of the whole 52nd FG replacing Lt. Col. McNickle. In April 1944, the 52nd FG under his command

was re-equipped with P-51B and was integrated into

the 15th AF USAAF.

INFO Eduard