F/O James H. Montgomery, 4th FS, 52nd FG, 12th AF, Corsica, January – February 1944
F/O James Henry Montgomery was one of many American pilots flying the Spitfire, fighting in the Mediterranean within the ranks of the 12th AF. On August 6, 1943,
he was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea near
Palermo by a German Messerschmitt and spent an entire day in a life raft. He staved off hunger by catching
fish and gutting them with his knife. The news of his
experience reached the mainstream media back in the
States, earning him the nickname “Robinson Crusoe of
the Sky”. He didn’t have the same luck the second time
around, when, on February 9, 1944, near the port city
of Nice, his group of four Spitfires was ambushed by
a section of Fw 190s. Two of the 190’s got Montgomery’s
Spitfire in their sights, which took direct hits and burst
into flames. He did not survive. F/O Montgomery flew
Spitfires named “The Impatient Virgin” and “Impatient
Virgin II”, each of which carried noseart of a scantily
clad young lady.
EF736, GR II/33 “Savoie”, Dijon, France, September 1944
Spitfire Mk.Vc EF736 served with Groupe de Reconnaissance II/33 “Savoie”, one of the first Free
French units to take delivery of the Spitfire. The
aircraft carried a desert camouflage scheme with
yellow identifiers in the form of wing bands and tail
surfaces. The attractive look of the airplane was
compounded by the shark mouth, which was a personal marking, while the seagull behind the cockpit
was a unit marking.
AR560, W/Cdr John M. Thompson, Luqa Wing, Malta, January – May 1943
John Marlow Thompson commanded No. 111 Squadron
at the beginning of the war, and during the Battles
of France and Britain, he claimed six confirmed kills
and two shared. There were another three kills that
went unconfirmed. In the spring of 1942, he was promoted to Wing Commander and on his own request,
he was transferred to Malta, where between August
1942 and June 1943, he commanded all Malta based
Wings (Takali Wing, Hal Far Wing and Luqa Wing).
He added a further two confirmed kills to his credit.
In June he was sent to Malta Headquarters as the
commander of the Training Wing. From March to
February of 1944, he commanded the base Hal Far.
Later, he led No. 338 Wing in Algeria, a part of which
was made up of three squadrons of French Spitfires.
Over the course of his career, Thompson shot down
eight aircraft (plus three unconfirmed), two more
were probables, and he damaged another seven.
Spitfire AR560 was a rare example of a Malta Mk.V
lacking the tropical filter. It was flown from Gibraltar
to Malta on November 1, 1942. The aircraft carried the
new Maltese camouflage scheme consisting of Deep
Sky and Dark Slate Grey, used from mid-June 1942,
on the upper surfaces. The lower surfaces remained
in Azure Blue. The aircraft was first flown by several pilots from various squadrons and from January
1943, it served as the personal aircraft of Luqa Wing
Commander John M. Thompson. As allowed by order,
Thompson used his position to use his initials, JM-T,
as his fuselage code. This was applied in Azure Blue.
In June, AR560 was handed down to the new commander of Luqa Wing, W/Cdr W. W. G. Duncan-Smith,
who recoded the Spit DS.