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Date: Friday, 12 November 1943
Place: Kenley, London, England
Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire Fighter Vb (BM316). The photo was probably taken after one of its engine changes. Note 500-pound (227-kilogram) bomb mounted on the center fuselage. This aircraft was delivered to the RAF with a Rolls Royce Merlin 45 engine (1470 horsepower) on March 3, 1942 from the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory (the largest British aircraft manufacturing center) to the RAF. This Spitfire variant had the "B" wing with two Hispano 20mm (.78 inch) cannon and four Browning .303 Caliber machine guns. It was first tested and modified by 45 Maintenance Unit. Its first operational flight was at the hands of 485 Squadron (Royal New Zealand Air Force), flying out of RAF Kenley, which received BM316 on June 2, 1942. RAF Kenley was one of the three major fighter stations around London. On July 8, the aircraft was transferred to 611 Squadron when 485 was withdrawn for rest and refit. During this time, Spitfire Vs were having problems dogfighting the superior Focke-Wulf FW-190, and many Spitfires were lost over France as the RAF began fighter sweeps over the continent for little gain; 611 flew BM316 on shipping reconnaissance, escort and defensive missions. 111 Squadron took over BM316 on August 2, continuing 611's mission until September 1942, when the unit was ordered to Gibraltar as part of the buildup of Operation Torch. BM316 was either left at RAF Kenley or returned there on January 6, 1943, when 421 Squadron (Royal Canadian Air Force) took over the aging Spitfire. It was assigned to 416 Squadron on May 23, 1943. Likely the aircraft was already only used for training, but its engine was replaced by Heston Aircraft Limited with a Merlin 46 (1415 horsepower) with a high altitude carburetor on November 12, 1943, probably to combat the supposed threat from the Junkers JU-86 bomber, which cruised at 40,000 feet (12,200 meters). The United States Army Air Force installed a Packard Merlin 45M (1585 horsepower) for low altitude performance on May 10, 1944, and was using the aircraft for some time under reverse lend-lease. On October 10, this venerable aircraft was transferred to 17 Flying Training School. In March 1945 17 FTS moved to RAF Spitalgate outside Grantham, Lincolnshire. The old Spitfire served RAF fighter pilots in training until September 25, 1945, when it was destroyed in an accident that was repairable, but beyond the capabilities of 17 FTS; the engine cut out and the aircraft crashed on its belly 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) outside of Bourne, Lincolnshire. BM316 was declared a complete writeoff and struck off charge on October 4, 1945 and scrapped.
Royal Air Force