Recalling the days of the Spitfire

ROARING engines of Spitfires and Hurricanes were once a sound over Martlesham Heath. I published an undated photograph of these aircraft at RAF Martlesham asking if readers could provide more information.

David Kindred

ROARING engines of Spitfires and Hurricanes were once a sound over Martlesham Heath. I published an undated photograph of these aircraft at RAF Martlesham asking if readers could provide more information.

Colin Whitmore said in an e-mail: “The Spitfire is one of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight aircraft when the flight was based at Martlesham. It is a Mk XV1E, which was taken on charge by the RAF on August 14, 1945.

“Gordon Kinsey's book Martlesham Heath says 'On September 20th, 1959 Hurricane LF363, (the other aircraft in the picture) and Spitfire SL574 took off from Martlesham to make the usual Battle of Britain fly-past over the centre of London. The Spitfire, piloted by Air Vice Marshal H.J.Maquire. Unfortunately it developed engine trouble just after it had passed over the city and made a forced landing in a cricket pitch in Bromley, Kent. The pilot escaped injury, the aircraft was badly damaged, but it was salvaged and returned to its hanger at Martlesham where it was carefully re-built to fly once again.

“The car outside the hanger on the right of the picture is a Standard Vanguard. These cars were used extensively by the RAF. I believe the hanger was the old hanger four which was demolished to make way for Tesco's store. Tom Scrivener, of Heron Road, Ipswich, added: “As an ex-RAF Martlesham Heath man the picture brought back a few memories of my four and a half years at RAF Martlesham.

“Your photo of the Hurricane and the Spitfire was taken about 1959 between “A” Flight and “C” Flight hangers. The aircraft I believe were part of the Battle of Britain Flight. The Hurricane was a mark IIC and Spitfire was a mark19. At the time I was at the Heath I was in “A” flight, which was blind landing experimental unit. We had a selection of different aircraft at the time and we were flying when the weather was bad. In around 1950 “C” flight was on rapid landing trials with Mosquitos to start with, then on to Meteor 11s.”

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- The Martlesham Heath Aviation Society museum in the former control tower is open for the last two Sundays in October.

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