Spitfire Vb, ER647, S/Ldr John R. Urwin-Mann, No. 126 Squadron, RAF Luqa, Malta, spring 1943
ER647 represents yet another of the camouflage
schemes used in Malta where the factory applied
Middle Stone was repainted with Dark Slate Grey.
A Mk.Vb painted in similar way is documented
in the color photographs by AVM Keith Park.
The depicted ER647 was flown by the No. 126
Squadron commander, a Battle of Britain ace
S/Ldr Urwin-Mann, who on January 28, 1943, shot
down a Me 210 flying this aircraft. In February
1944, ER647 was handed over to the USAAF and
in 1945 finished its career with the French AF.
During his wartime career, John Roland “Jack”
Urwin-Mann scored 10 kills, two of them shared.
Spitfire Vb Trop, ER187, Maj. Frank A. Hill, 309th FS, 31st FG, Xewkija, Gozo - Malta, beginning of July 1943
In the middle of 1943, Malta became a fundamental
“springboard” for the Operation Husky, an Allied
invasion of Sicily. The island became a key post
mainly due to its support of the air operations.
There were five operational airfields on Malta,
all of them occupied by the large numbers of the
British airplanes which impaired the operations
of the USAAF units. The only solution was to turn
the attention to Gozo, mountainous land which
is the part of the Malta archipelago. The area in
Xewkija turned out to be the best solution despite
the negotiations with the local farmers. Xewkija
airport, also known as Ta’ Lambert, was built as
the principal USAAF airbase during the Operation
Husky in the very short time of 12 days of the
construction only to cease the operations after
mere six months of the intense traffic. In June
1944 the land on which the airport was built was
returned to the original landlords and turned back
to the fertile soil. One of the Spitfires flying out of
the airfield Xewkija in the beginning of July 1943
was ER187, a personal aircraft of the commander
and the most successful pilot of the 309th FS,
Maj. Frank Hill. His Spitfire is known to carry two
different designs of the national insignia, with
a yellow outline and also with the “wings” with
the red outline which fell into the period of their
official application, from June 28 to the end of
July 1943. A question remains if the new insignia
were painted for that ten days stay on Gozo or
in Sicily, where the 31st FG was transferred on
July 13, 1943. During his wartime carrier Maj.
Frank Hill shot down in total eight enemy aircraft
including two shared victories, two probable and
he also damaged five enemy aircraft.