At the beginning of 1944 the character of 7th PG missions changed.

The shuttle flights between British bases and bases in Italy were

implemented. The first shuttle mission was flown by Maj. Norris

Hartwell on January 29, 1944 in F-5 Lightning. As the invasion date

was approaching the combat activity intensified and number of sorties increased dramatically. Reconnaissance missions were flown

along the whole Atlantic coast from the Spanish border all the way

up to Norway. To confuse the German Command the most activity

was conducted in the Pas de Calais area. One of the most famous

reconnaissance flights was performed by Capt. Walter Weitner after

the first USAAF large scale raid on Berlin on March 6, 1944. Weitner’s Mk. XI „High Lady“ landed from the mission with only a few

drops of fuel left in the tanks. On March 8, after the second USAAF

raid on Berlin, this mission was repeated by Lt. Charles Parker. He

however ran out of fuel earlier and had to land at RAF base Bradwell Bay on the England’s east coast. Both pilots cruised at the

altitude of 41 000 feet.

In order to provide high quality aerial reconnaissance before and

during the Invasion in February 1944 the supreme commander of

the Allied Expeditionary Corps General Eisenhower established the

8th Reconnaissance Wing (Provisional) and 7th PG was integrated

into it. 8th RW command was given to Col. Elliot Roosewelt, one

of four sons of the president Franklin D. Roosewelt. Col. Roosewelt

pioneered the aircraft transportation from the US to Europe by air.

He also commanded 3rd PG and later in the Mediterranean the

Mediterranean Allied Photographic Reconnaissance Command. In

the beginning of March 1944 the 8th RW was transferred under 9th

AF command and redesigned as 325th RW, still commanded by Col.


Even after the Invasion 7th PG provided the strategic reconnaissance for all important Allied operations. During the war the unit

flew 4 251 missions and took more than 3 million photographs. It

was disbanded on November 21, 1945. Spitfires Mk. XI remained in

7th PG service until the end of war. The sported the camouflage in

PRU Blue on all surfaces. Later in 1945 part of the Spitfire flew in

natural metal finish.

Fighter Airplane Range Extension Program

One of the most important tasks of the Allied technicians and designers during the WWII was to develop an escort fighter aircraft

with sufficient range to escort the heavy bombers on their whole

flight route to the target and back. Until January 1944 the USAAF relied on P-38 Lightning. The winner of the USAAF Fighter Airplane Range Extension Program was unexpectedly P-51B Mustang.

Before that however General Arnold had requested the evaluation

of Spitfire Mk. IX range extention. Since 1942 RAF operated the

high altitude photo-reconnaissance Spitfire Mk. XI with amazing

range of 2 200 km but was not interested in the development of

the long-range escort fighter version. USAAF technicians at Wright

Field base in Dayton, Ohio modified two Spitfires Mk.IX by install-

ing the fuel tanks in all available airframe spaces and added two

underwing drop tanks. The result was 2 560 km range. General Arnold wanted to demonstrate the Spitfire’s range potential to the

RAF and therefore, in May 1943 dispatched these two airplanes

across the Atlantic, from Dayton, Ohio to Boscombe Down in England. The flight was routed through Goose Bay in Labrador, Bluie

West 8 in Greenland, Keflavik in Iceland and Prestwick in Scottland.

B-25 Mitchell was to navigate and escort the formation. One of the

Spitfires suffered the engine malfunction right after the take off

and was forced to return. The pilot of the second Spitfire MK210,

Lt.Col. Gustav Lundquist and the crew of the escorting Mitchell

therefore waited for this aircraft at Bluie West 8 base in Greenland.

Lundquist and his mechanic Peta were killing the time by painting

the large nose art on MK210 in the form of naked lady making the

phone call, supposedly to RAF Headquarters to await the arrival

of those long range Spitfires. The lady was named Tolly which was

Lundquist wife’s name. What Mrs. Lundquist had to say about this

remains unknown but at any rate these two airmen created one of

the most attractive and colorful Spitfire nose arts of all times. And

as it was said earlier, the winner finally became rather underestimated Mustang launching its unstoppable career, forever recorded

in the world‘s aviation history.

Before the conclusion US NAVY one more time

Tolly Lundquist could have concluded our story about American

Spitfires if only US NAVY had not flown one Seafire LF Mk. IIc for

comparison tests with new Grumman F8F Bearcat. The tests were

conducted at US NAVY Naval Air Test Station Patuxent River in 1944

and Bearcat surpassed Seafire in all tested parameters. And that is

really the end of our story.


HOLMES T.: American Eagles, Volume 1: American Volunteer Fighter Pilots in the RAF, 1937-43

LUDWIG P., LAIRD M.: American Spitfire camouflage and markings Part 1 & 2

McAULAY L.: Spitfire Ace 1941-45: The Flying Career of Squadron Leader Tony Gaze DFC. Amazon Kindle edition

OLYNYK F.: STARS AND BARS: A tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973

PRIEN J.: Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77, Teil 3


SHORES C., MASSIMELLO G., GUEST R., OLYNYK F., BOCK W.: A History of the Mediterranean Air

War, 1940–1945: Tunisia and the End in Africa, November 1942–1943

THOMAS A.: American Spitfire Aces of World War 2

WILSSON S.: Almost Unknown - The Story of Squadron Leader Tony Gaze OAM DFC

OLYNYK F.: STARS AND BARS: A tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973

SHORES Christopher, WILLIAMS Clive: Aces High

Spitfire Mk.IX, MK210,

Lt. Col. Gustav E. Lundquist,

Blue West 8, Greenland, May 1943

INFO Eduard - August 2021