KITS 05/2023

Spitfire Vc Trop, BR311, F/Lt Roderick I. A. Smith, No. 126 Squadron, RAF Luqa, Malta, October 1942

Spitfire BR311 arrived in Malta during the

Operation Style on June 3, 1942 and successfully

participated in the battle for the island. On August

14, flying this aircraft, S/Ldr W. J. Johnson shot

down two Macchi MC.202. Between October 12

and 25, P/O Nigel Park at its controls shot down

three Ju 88 and three Bf 109 and on October 25

F/Lt “Rod” Smith shot down a Bf 109, which was

his last victory in Malta. During the defense of

Malta, he shot down in total six aircraft. Rod Smith

was a brother of Jerry Smith, and they fought

together in the ranks of the No. 126 Squadron.

BR311 coloration matched the recommended

Malta scheme in Dark Mediterranean Blue on

the upper surfaces and Sky Blue on the lower

surfaces. The original markings on the fuselage,

applied on board of USS Wasp, were overpainted

with Light Mediterranean Blue and assigned the

code letters MK-L. On October 5, 1944, Rod Smith

became the first Allied pilot who shot down a Me

262 jet. During his wartime carrier Rod Smith

scored 14 kills.

Spitfire Vc Trop, BR321, F/Lt John A. Plagis, No. 185 Squadron, RAF Hal Far, Malta, June 1942

Spitfire BR321 arrived in Malta on June 9 during

the operation Salient. It became a personal

mount of F/Lt John Plagis who scored three

aerial victories in it. John Plagis was born on

March 10, 1919, in Hartley, South Rhodesia. After

the outbreak of war, he volunteered for the

Rhodesian AF but was rejected since he was

still officially a Greek citizen. Therefore in 1940

he volunteered for RAF. In May 1941 he started his

pilot training at the No. 58 OTU in Grangemouth.

In the end of June, he was initially attached to

the No. 65 Squadron, then he was transferred to

the No. 266 Squadron. In all his flight evaluations

he was graded as above average. In the end of

January 1942, he was ordered to the Near East

May 2023

and on March 7 he was one of the first pilots

who flew their Spitfires to Malta from HMS Eagle

during the Operation Spotter. Initially he flew with

the No. 249 Squadron where between March and

May he shot down nine enemy aircraft, including

two shared victories. In the end of May he was

dispatched to Gibraltar to help fly over a new

batch of Spitfires during the Operation Style on

June 3. After the arrival he was transferred to

the No. 185 Squadron as a flight A leader and

until the end of June he shot down another three

opponents. In the beginning of July, he returned to

the Great Britain. In August he was ordered to the

No. 53 OTU where he was graded as exceptional.

In April 1943 he returned to the combat flying at

the No. 64 Squadron. In July 1944 he assumed

command of the No. 126 Squadron and during

the Normandy landing he scored another three

victories. In December the unit was re-equipped

with Mustangs and Johnny Plagis was promoted

to the Wing Commander. On March 27, 1945, he

flew cover for the bomber Mosquitos raiding the

Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen. After the war he

commanded the No. 234 Squadron and the No. 266

Squadron flying the jet Meteors Mk.III. In May 1948

he retired from RAF and returned to Rhodesia.

During his wartime carrier John Plagis shot down

15 aircraft individually, two in the cooperation and

became the most successful Greek pilot of WWII.

INFO Eduard