Some of the first Spitfires Mk.I in the inventory of the newly formed No. 313 Squadron. In barely a month, starting May 31, 1941, on this aircraft X4652 (RY-B), F/O Fajtl logged
total of 20 combat and non-combat flights-last of them on June 24, 1941. A day later, with P/O Drbohlav at controls, while touching down at Catterick the airplane lost the left
wheel and ended in the repair shop. I was landing completely normally to three points and softly, remembers Mr. Karel Drbohlav after many years. Shortly after touchdown I suddenly
felt a strange vibration. I noticed a wheel rapidly spinning off on my port side – it was my own! Unbelievable! I tried to keep Spitfire straight and shut off the engine. I was bleeding
off the speed and suddenly felt a second shock, Spitfire leaned and performed a ground loop as the damaged landing gear leg got stuck in the ground. Barely any damage was
sustained, not even the propeller blades were damaged. The light damage was repaired by teh station mechanics. Investigation board concluded it was an mechanical fault. Left wheel
steel axle cracked at the point of an air bubble which caused the material fatigue.
No. 313 Squadron Spitfire Mk.I X4163 (RY-R). On June 19, 1941 it suffered an accident at Catterick. While landing from his first training flight on the type the pilot broke off
the landing gear on the terain obstacle and had to resort to a belly landing. Even thought Sgt Rudolf Ptacek is stated in the official records as a „culprit“ according to his personal
records the aircraft was in fact piloted by his friend Sgt Otto Spacek („Otto lost landing gear before reaching the airport but nothing happened to him“ recorded Ptacek at that
time). Regardless who was at the controls at that time „the accident was evaluated as a pilot’s fault but we should look at it a bit closer“ noted then F/O Frantisek Fajtl. To his defense
the pilot stated that shortly before landing he felt a strong vertical draft which he could not compensate for. The aircraft lost altitude, hit the hill where it lost part of its landing gear.
Pilot reacted immediately and with a lot of power recovered Spitfire, dragged it to the airfield where he performed the emergency landing. He saved his life and brought most of the
aircraft back home.
INFO Eduard - DECEMBER 2020