Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 3: The Second World War, and post-War, Supermarine Spitfire

Canadian Warplanes, the Second World War and post-War, Supermarine Spitfires

Data current to 10 Jan 2019.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583160)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944.

The Supermarine Spitfire is a single-seat fighter aircraft flown by the RCAF during and after the Second World War.  Many variants of the Spitfire were built in the UK, using several wing configurations, and it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft.  It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. Nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.  The Spitfires flown by RCAF Squadrons overseas were owned by the RAF.  Only eleven were actually on RCAF strength.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IIA (1), (Serial No. L1090), Mk. IIB (3), (Serial Nos. P8332, and two unknowns) Mk. V (3), (Serial Nos. R7143, X4492, X4555), Mk. VIII (1), (Serial No. JG480), Mk. XVI (1), (Serial No. TE214), Mk. XIV (1), (Serial No. TZ138), Mk. XIX (1), (Serial No. PM627), for a total of 11 aircraft on RCAF strength in Canada.

One damaged Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb (Serial No. ER824), "Miss Torbay", was assembled and flown in Newfoundland with parts from two other damaged Spitfires (Serial No. ES117) and (Serial No. ES881), but none of them were officially on RCAF rolls.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583645)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. L1090), 6 Jun 1940.

 (RCAF Photo, Comox Air Museum)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. L1090), with Air marshall William Avery Bishop, VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED.  He was a Canadian flying ace of the First World War, Victoria Cross recipient officially credited with 72 victories, making him the top Canadian and British Empire ace of the war.  His son flew Spitfires during the Second World War.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. P8332), coded LZ-O.  (RCAF Photo)

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb, RCAF (Serial No. ER824), with Tropical airscoop, desert cam and equipment in 1942.  S/L Herbert J. Russel, the Engineering Officer at Torbay, Newfoundland, reported that this aircraft was one of several that had been strapped to the deck of a British Steam Merchant ship, "Empire Kingsley", when it was bound for the Caribbean.  The ship was caught in a storm that forced it to stop in St. John's, Newfoundland on Christmas eve.  He was directed to remove this damaged Spitfire and two others as well as a damaged Lockheed P-38 Lightning.  With the damaged aircraft removed, the ship continued on its journey.  The "Empire Kingsley" was eventually sunk a year later by a U-Boat, with nearly all of its crew lost.

The aircraft were transported to Torbay on 26 Dec 1942.  The Spitfire's bent propeller was straighted, and parts of the other two damaged Spitfires (Serial Nos. ES117 and ES881) were used to restore ER824 to flying condition.  S/L R.R. "Bob" Norris had flown Spitfires in the Battle of Britain and he agreed to test fly the aircraft.  On 16 March 1943, he took ER824 up for the first of many flights, then Lal Parsons on 19 April 1942, then F/O HA Pattinson.  This aircraft had been one of a number of "Presentation Spitfires" donated by Kabala Province in Nigeria.  The restoration crew named her "Miss Torbay".  The remains of the other two damaged Spitfires were buried at Torbay.  

Apparently, once word got around that Canadians were flying a Spitfire in Newfoundland, the AOC in Halifax, "Black Mike" McKewen, immediately demanded it be shipped to Halifax.  It was eventually packed for shipment to Halifax by members of 125 Sqn.   It was in Digby for a brief period before it made its way back to England where the RAF Maintenance Unit (MU) shipped her to Canadians with RCAF No. 442 Sqn, then No. 12 (Communications) Group, who used it for training.  It still wore the name "Miss Torbay" on the fuselage.  ER824 was sold for scrap in 1948.  (Bert Russell and Larry Milberry, CANAV Books)

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583113)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. R7143), 13 (P) Squadron, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 14 Jan 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583883)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, Op Eclipse, RCAF, 20 Aug 1945.

 (DND Archives Photo, PL-l16608)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, 22 May 1943, Rockcliffe, Ontario.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. R7143).  This aircraft was not flown in combat in France in 1944.  It was converted to a PR Mk. VII Type G in early 1942 with all of its armament removed and it was in Canada in 1944.  The photo was taken by Red Hill at Rockcliffe, Ontario.  It was used by the Photographic Flight and went to No. 9 (T) Group post war.  This aircraft was in the RCAF 1943-1947.  (Photo courtesy the Comox Air Force Museum).

 (DND Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944.

 (DND Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3523323)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583158)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), 26 Feb 1944.

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RCAF (Serial No. X4555), Rockcliffe, Ontario, ca 1943.

  (J. Griffin Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VIII, RCAF (Serial No. JG480), 18 SFTS, Gimli, Manitoba, 1944.

 (Glen Carruthers Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVIe, RCAF (Serial No. TE214), on loan from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario.

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIVe, RCAF (Serial No. TZ138), 1948.

 (SDASM Photos)

Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIVe, RCAF (Serial No. TZ138), CF-GMZ, Racer No. 80, 1949.   This aircraft placed 4th in the 1949 Tinnerman Air Races in the USA with a top speed of 359.565mph. 

Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk. XIX, RCAF (Serial No. PM627), coded YO-X, Toronto, alongside HMCS Haida, ca 1972, now in Sweden.

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk. XIX, RCAF (Serial No. PM627), Flyvapenmuseum, Sweden.

Supermarine Spitfires flown by the RCAF overseas were on loan from the RAF.  RCAF Sqns that flew Spitfires included Nos. 401, 402, 403, 411, 412, 414, 416, 417, 421, 430, 441, 442 and 443 Squadrons, and No. 13 Squadron from 1944-1946.

 (DND Archives Photo, RE-20633-7)

Supermarine Spitfire F Mk. XIV (Serial No. WB151, Dec 1943.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5010706)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II, RAF (Serial No. P7923), coded DB-R, RCAF No. 411 Squadron.

 (RAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, RAF, with clipped wings.

 (IWM Photo, CH 2929)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb, RAF (Serial No. R6923), No. 92 Squadron, 19 May 1941.

(RCAF Photo via Francois Dutil)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB (Serial No. AD234), coded YO-X, flown by P/O Hugh Godefroy, 401 Sqn, Oct 1941.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4997399)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB, coded YO-R, No. 401 Squadron, RCAF, over Kent, England in 1942.

 (RAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB (Serial No. W3834), coded YO-Q, No. 401 Squadron, RCAF, in England ca 1942.

  (IWM Photo, TR865)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vbs of No. 417 Squadron, RCAF, flying in loose formation over the Tunisian desert on a bomber escort operation, April 1943.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA-136915)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXE pair, No. 412 (Falcon) Squadron, RCAF, ca. 1944.

 (IWM Photo CL 1718)

Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk. XI (Serial No. PL883), of No. 400 Squadron, RCAF taxiing through a flooded area at B78, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, ca Dec 1944.

 (IWM Photo, CL186)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX of No 403 Squadron, RCAF, being serviced by an RAF Repair and Salvage Unit working to repair damage to the aircraft at a forward airstrip in Normandy, 19 June 1944.   The propellor blades are wooden.  It would appear that the repair team is trying to lift and move the wing backwards to straighten it out.  A few of the men are pushing on the cannon while those behind are watching the wing root area.

(IWM Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, MJ275, VZ-J & MJ452, VZ-L, 412 Sqn, RCAF with 250-lb bombs, Heesch, Netherlands. 

(IWM Photo, CL1451)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXE, coded VZ-H, RCAF No. 412 Sqn, carrying three 250-lb bombs, assisted by a groundcrewman on the wing to stear around potholes in the runway, Vokel, Netherlands, 19 Oct 1944.

(IWM Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXE (Serial No. MJ255), coded VZ-S, RCAF No. 412 Sqn, Tilly-sur-Seulles, Normandy, crashed on 11 June 1944, photo taken on 17 June 1944. 

 (RAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, RAF.

 (Libary and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3941007)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, (Serial No. MJ832), coded DN-T, No. 416 (City of Oshawa) Sqn, RCAF.  This aircraft was damaged by flak in the Flenville area of France on 8 May 1944, but was repaired.  While flying this Spitfire, J22989 Squadron Leader Sten T. Lundberg was shot down by flak on 21 May 1944, while attacking a train in the Cayeux-Berck area.  This was during Ramrod 905. He became a POW at Luft Stalag III.  His Kriegsgefangenen Nummer (POW Number) was 5838.  Luft Stalag III was the camp made famous by the 'Great Escape'.  On his return home, he was a pioneer in early helicopter aviation in Canada.  The remains of his Spitfire were apparently collected but later abandoned by the Luftwaffe at Vught, Holland, 11 Nov 1944.

(RCAF Photo)

(RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire L.F. Mk. IX (Serial No. NH188), coded AU-H, in flight, now with the CA&SM.

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire L.F. Mk. IX (Serial No. NH188), coded AU-H, CBAF IX 2161 with clipped wings.  This Spitfire was manufactured by the Supermarine division of Vickers-Armstrong Limited at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory in the United Kingdom in 1944.  In 1944 it flew with a Polish squadron and an RCAF squadron.  It was damaged by anti-aircraft fire around D-Day, and was stored by the RAF from late 1944 to 1946.  In 1946 the aircraft was sold to the Dutch Air Force.  Sent to the Dutch East Indies (today's Indonesia) in 1947, it was flown infrequently until its return to Holland in 1950.  It was sold to the Belgian Air Force in 1952, rebuilt, and then used as a trainer.  The Spitfire was written off after a crash in 1954.  A private company then purchased the aircraft and rebuilt it to tow targets.  John N. Paterson of Fort William, Ontario purchased the Spitfire and brought it to Canada in 1961.  After rebuilding it, Paterson donated the aircraft to the Museum in 1964, flying it to Ottawa for Air Force Day.  (CA&SM)

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3645494)

Supermarine Spitfire F.R. XIVB, NV348, S, Violet Dorothy III, 414 (Sarnia Imperials) Sqn, RCAF.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3645495)

Supermarine Spitfire F.R. Mk. XIVB, RAF (Serial No. NV348), S, Violet Dorothy III, RCAF No. 414 (Sarnia Imperials) Squadron.

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIV, RAF (Serial No. RN119), coded AE-J, RCAF No. 402 Squadron, 126 Wing, 2nd TAF, Heesch, the Netherlands, 4 March 1945.

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire F.R. Mk. XIV, RAF (Serial No. RM795), coded T, RCAF No. 430 Squadron.

 (RCAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XIV, coded D, No. 414 Sqn, RCAF ca. 1945.

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire 361 Mk. XVI (Serial No. TD248).

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

 (Aldo Bidini Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe (Serial No. SL721), coded AU-J, RCAF No. 421 Sqn, Reg. No. N9721WK, Reg. No. C-GVZB.  Michael Potter, Vintage Wings of Canada, Gatineau, Quebec.

Supermarine Spitfire F Mk. XIVe (Serial No. RM747).  This aircraft is in storage.  It served with No. 322 (Dutch) Sqn, No. 350 (Belgian) Sqn, No. 451 (Australian) Sqn, before serving with the Royal Thai Air Force as (Serial No. Kh.14-5/93).  During the 1980s it was part of a playground at Sawankalok, Thailand.

 (Mike Kaehler Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk. IXe, (Serial No. TE294), painted as (Serial No. MK304), coded Y2-K.  The original Y2-K, MK304, was produced at Castle Bromwich, albeit as a Merlin 66-powered LF Mk IXe.  Delivered to 39MU in January 1944, it served briefly with No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron before being transferred to No. 442 Squadron RCAF on 7 February.   The remains of this fighter were rescured from a South African scrapyard in the 1990s and partly rebuilt by volunteers at the Comox Air Force Museum as a millennium project and as an homage to the wartime pilots of 442 Squadron.  442 is currently an RCAF Search and Rescue Squadron based at 19 Wing, Comox.  Restored at Vintage Wings of Canada, TE294 is now airworthy, and was first flown 7 June 2017.  It is painted as (Serial No. MK304), Y2-K as flown by Flt Lt Arnold Roseland, RCAF No. 442 Squadron.

 (RCAF Photo)

Y2K is dedicated to and carries the name of Flight Lieutenant Arnold Roseland of 442 Squadron.  Roseland was one of only a handful of Canadian fighter pilots who fought both the Japanese and the Germans during the war.  “Rosey” Roseland was a member of 14 Squadron, a P-40 Kittyhawk unit flying in the home defence of Canada’s West Coast and in combat operations in the Aleutian Island chain against Japanese Army and Navy positions on the island of Kiska.  Later in the war, 14 Squadron became 442 Squadron, reforming at RCAF Station Rockcliffe in Ottawa before going overseas and transitioning en masse to the Supermarine Spitfire.  Roseland flew in a Spitfire with the letter “K” on the side, K” being used by at least three aircraft he had flown since 18 March 1944.  Roseland’s flight record in the Spitfire included 117 flights totaling 130 hours and 10 minutes.  He flew more than 50% of his Spitfire operations in a Y2-K–marked aircraft, making that aircraft in the squadron truly “his”.  In his nearly two years on P-40s and P-40 Kittyhawks before going to Europe, Rosey had 220 flights and 348 hours, flying out of Great Britain and France. 

F/L Roseland was flying one of the Spitfires marked with the letter “K” when he shot down a pair of Focke-Wulf Fw 190s.  He flew “K” on three separate sorties on30 June 1944, just two weeks before he was killed.  His Squadron Intelligence officer typed it out afterward for his combat reports: 
“I was flying Yellow 3 in 442 Squadron which was on patrol heading due south at 1800’ just under layer of cloud in the vicinity of VILLER BOCAGE. I suddenly spotted 4 FW 190’s flying due North directly below yellow flight. I immediately broke 180º and down to attack at the same time reporting the presence of e/a [Enemy Aircraft] to the remainder of the squadron. The e/a sighted me and began climbing all out for cloud using violent evasive action but still in fairly compact formation and turning slightly to starboard. I attacked second from left from 20º to 0º opening fire from approx 450 yds. My first burst struck engine and cockpit and e/a began to smoke. I closed in slightly to line astern and my second burst hit tail and e/a immediately burst into flame and rolled over onto its back. I broke starboard and positioned myself on e/a to starboard, which was very near cloud. My port cannon jammed and I had difficulty in getting strikes on e/a which was using violent evasive action. By the time it entered cloud it was smoking badly. I followed into cloud for 30 sec. then diving slightly spotted e/a directly ahead. My starboard cannon also ceased firing so I fired short burst of M/G [Machine Gun - Ed.] until within 50 yards. E/A dove into cloud at an angle of 45º. Pilot apparently bailed out while in cloud. First e/a confirmed by F/L Wright. 

I claim 2 FW 190’s DESTROYED. Cine gun used [gun camera]

(SGD), A. Roseland. F/L.”

Arnold Roseland was just 28 years old when he died in an aerial gunfight over Normandy in the summer of 1944.  The 442 Sqn Operational Record Book, (ORB) for 13 July 1944 records he was flying another Spitfire, Y2P and that, "F/L A.W. Roseland, the Flight Commander of “B” Flight chased a Hun into the clouds and was not seen again."  He apparently died when his parachute caught on the tail of his burning Spitfire and he was thrown to his death when the aircraft struck the ground.  Since that day, Rosey’s remains have lain in a well-tended grave site at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in Calvados, France.  (Dave O’Malley, Roseland Spitfire Project)

 (IWM Photo, CL 76)

Ground crew refuel and re-arm one of the first Supermarine Spitfires to land in France, a Mk. IX of No. 441 Squadron RCAF, at Advanced Landing Ground B3/Sainte Croix-sur-Mer, Normandy, on the afternoon of 10 June 1944.

 (RAF Photo)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VIII (Serial No. JF835), c/n 4612, coded UM-T, flown by RCAF Flying Officer Paul “Gus” Ardeline, DFC, serving with RAF 152 (Hyderabad) Sqn, operating from Sinthe airstrip in Burma, in 1945.  The maple leaf is green, inside the blue and white roundel under a black panther.  F/O Ardeline shot down a Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft code named "Dinah" on 24 Sep 1944 while flying this aircraft.

 (RAF Photo)

 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX (Serial No. EN398), coded JE-J.   This aircraft was built at the Chattis Hiil factory and made its first flight on 13 Feb 1943.  On 18 February it was delivered to RCAF No 402 Squadron at RAF Kenley in the UK.  There Ian Keltie took possession of it and used EN398 (then coded AE-I) exclusively until mid March (by now coded AE-B), when 402 moved.   Keltie's last mission in EN398 occurred on 13 March 1943.  When 402 moved however, EN398 was left for their replacement squadron, also Canadian, RCAF No. 416 Sqn.  RAF Kenley housed four RCAF squadrons, Nos. 403 and 416 with Spitfire Mk. IXs, and Nos. 411 and 421 Sqns with Spitfire Mk. Vs. 

On 16 March1943, Acting Wing Commander "Johnnie" Johnson arrived to take command of the four Canadian units based at Kenley, leading the wing.  Johnson took over EN398, and noted that his Spitfire was painted with a green maple leaf below the cockpit.  Johnson stated, "I found the engineer officer and together we had a look at her, gleaming and bright in a new spring coat of camouflage paint.  Later I took her up for a few aerobatics to get the feel of her, for this was the first time I had flown a [Mark] 9.  She seemed very fast, the engine was sweet and she responded to the controls as only a thoroughbred can.  I decided she should be mine, and I never had occasion to regret the choice."

As a wing commander, Johnson was allowed to paint his initials JE-J on the sides of the fuselage, in place of the usual squadron code letters AE. He also had the Spitfire's guns re-harmonised to converge their fire to a single point ahead of the aircraft, rather than the standard pattern which spread the rounds evenly over a circle a few yards across.  The first successful engagement for Johnson in EN398 was on 3 April 1943 when he shot down a Focke-Wulf Fw 190.  By the time Johnson relinquished command of the Kenley Wing in September 1943 he had shot down 12 enemy aircraft, shared in the destruction of five more, inflicted damage on six and shared in damaging one, all while flying EN398.  Also, RCAF Squadron Leader Robert "Buck" McNair shot down an Fw 190 while flying this Spitfire on 20 July 1943.  EN398 was eventually sold for scrap in October 1949.

 (RCAF Photo via Asisbiz)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX (Serial No. BS428), coded AE-U, RCAF No. 402 Sqn, 1942.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL30827)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, coded DB-R, RCAF No. 411 Sqn, having pre-invasion stripes painted prior to 6 June 1944 at Tangmere, United Kingdom.  On June 6, under overcast skies, RCAF fighter and fighter-bomber pilots flew with 171 Allied squadrons to protect the soldiers on the beach from the Luftwaffe and to attack German formations on the ground.  No. 441, No. 442 and No. 443 Squadrons of the RCAF became the first allied aircraft to operate over France since 1940.  They continued to support the Allied offensive throughout the campaign that followed.  Seven RCAF aircraft were lost, and 20 RCAF members were killed during operations in support of the landings.