New Yorker Major Frank Hill poses alongside his Spitfire VC ER187 WZ-C, which bears his victory total and the names of both him and his wife. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

By Mark McConville

STUNNING pictures have revealed the legions of Spitfires America used during World War Two after being gifted them by the RAF.

This was the fate of many veteran Spitfires that survived the conflict in the MTO. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

The incredible images show how the RAF roundel has been replaced on most of the planes by the ‘stars and bars’ of the USAAF.

Spitfire VB BM587 of the 309th FS/31st FG is serviced at Westhampnett in West Sussex in early August 1942. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

Other shots show American pilots proudly posing with their trusted Spitfire planes, with many displaying their own custom paint jobs.

First Lieutenant Willian Skinner replaced his war-weary Spitfire VC with this Mk VIII, which he christened Lonesome Polecat. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

The spectacular war-time snaps are showcased in a new book, Star-Spangled Spitfires, by Tony Holmes and published by Pen and Sword.

“The USAAF received Spitfires because it lacked suitable fighters of its own in Britain with which to engage the enemy,” said Mr Holmes.

 

On 22 September 1942 the press visited the 309th FS at Westhampnett (now Goodwood airfield) where the unit entertained them by conducting the usual ‘stunts’ associated with such occasions. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

“Also, the first fighter squadrons assigned to the USAAF in Britain were ex-RAF units manned by American volunteers who had signed up to fight the enemy ahead of the US entry into World War Two.

These Mk VBs, assigned to 52nd FG’s 2nd Fighter Squadron, are seen basking in the summer sun at either Eglinton, in Northern Ireland, or Atcham, in Shropshire. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

“The squadrons were equipped with Spitfires at the time of their transfer to the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in September 1942, and they took their aeroplanes with them.

“The USAAF was grateful to have Spitfires available when it first commenced operations in the UK, as it had no fighters of its own that could match the performance of the German Bf 109G and Fw 190A.”

 

First Lieutenant John Fawcett smiles for the camera while sat in the cockpit of Lady Ellen III. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

Star-Spangled Spitfires chronicles the combat operations of the USAAF units that were equipped with the iconic Supermarine fighter from the summer of 1942.

“They allowed both veteran and novice pilots alike to get a taste of frontline combat in Europe prior to the arrival of American-built fighters in 1943,” said Mr Holmes.

 

The very last USAAF pilot to ‘make ace’ on the Spitfire was New Yorker First Lieutenant Richard Hurd of the 308th FS. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com

“The American units that flew Spitfires in North Africa and the Mediterranean saw far more action with the British fighter. Indeed, the last ones were not replaced by US Mustangs in this theatre until March 1944.

“The operations of the units in the Mediterranean were highly successful. Indeed, 22 American pilots shot down five or more Axis aircraft to achieve coveted title of ace.

Over Salerno on the day of the Allied landings in southern Italy (9 September 1943) First Lieutenant Carroll Pryblo was hit by ‘friendly’ anti-aircraft fire and forced to crash land Spitfire VC JK707 on one of the invasion beachheads. Tony Holmes/mediadrumworld.com
“The photo-reconnaissance Spitfire XIs flown by the USAAF from Britain also performed a valuable, unsung, mission, flying alone and unarmed deep into Germany through to VE-Day.”

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