Spitfire Mk.Vb, EN851, Lt. Roland F. Wooten, 307th FS, 31st FG, 8th AF, RAF Merston, West Sussex,
United Kingdom, late August 1942
The 31st FG arrived in the Great Britain in June 1942. It received Spitfires of various versions at RAF airbases Atcham and High
Ercall and commenced the training. EN851 is a good example of the coloration and markings of the American Spitfires on the
eve of the USAAF operations in Europe. The aircraft remained in the standard British camouflage (Day Fighter Scheme) including
the recognition stripe on the tail. British insignia were overpainted at the unit level and replaced with the American white stars in
the blue circle. The insignia on the vertical tail, left lower wing and right upper wing insignia were just oversprayed with the camouflage color. As of October 1, 1942, the yellow outlines of the national insignia were introduced. On July 18 31st FG flew its first
combat mission. On August 19 it was the only USAAF fighter unit deployed in the Dieppe landing. The 31st FG was transferred to
the newly established 12th AF in October. In Gibraltar it was re-equipped with Spitfires Mk.Vb Trop and readied to be deployed in
the Operation Torch, the Allied landing in North Africa.
Spitfire Mk.Vb, BL255, Lt. Dominic S. Gentile, 336th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF, Debden, Essex, United Kingdom,
The third and last Eagle squadron, 133rd formed in July 1941 at RAF airbase Coltishall, was in 1942 the first American squadron
re-equipped with Spitfires Mk.IX. However, the unit lost its twelve „Nines“ in only three days before Eagle squadron was transferred under the USAAF command, during the B-17 escort over Morlaix. After its inclusion into 8th AF USAAF on September 29,
1942, it continued flying the good old Spitfires Mk.Vb as it was transformed from No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron RAF into 336th FS, 4th
FG. The BL255 Spitfire, nicknamed “Buckeye Don”, was the personal aircraft of Don Gentile, the future most successful fighter
pilot of the 8th AF with 19 kills, 3 damaged and 6 on the ground destroyed enemy aircraft. He was credited with two more kills
during the combat over Dieppe on August 19, 1942, while he was still serving with RAF. The same nose art as on BL255 was later
sported on the famous P-51B Shangri La and it was also incorporated into 334th FS insignia.
Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop, BR112, Sgt. Claude Weaver, No. 185 Squadron RAF, Hal Far, Malta, September 1942
Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop BR112, armed with four cannons, arrived in Malta on April 20, 1942, on board of USS Wasp air carrier during
the Operation Calendar. It was probably camouflaged in RAF Mediterranean Desert Scheme, Dark Earth and Mid Stone on the
upper surfaces and Azure Blue on the lower surfaces, upper surfaces were oversprayed with dark blue paint. This was supposedly done while still on board of USS Wasp. The propeller spinner was apparently in Sky, overspraying with dark blue paint
cannot be excluded though. There are some patches of different color on the vertical tail surfaces and fuselage spine, possibly
Dark Earth. On September 8, 1942, BR112 was shot down during the dogfight with Macchi C.202 from 352a Squadriglia over Sicily.
The American pilot, Sgt. Claude Weaver, an ace with 10.5 kills, made an emergency landing on the beach in Scoglitti and became
POW. Sgt. Weaver was one of the Americans serving with RAF who after finishing his tour of duty volunteered for the service in
the Mediterranean. At the time BR112 was shot down, it probably carried only two cannons in the outer weapon wells.
INFO Eduard - August 2021