Supermarine Spitfires

“LORD, LET THY SERVANT GO IN PEACE NOW” *

POLLY SINGH


Mk VIII: This type followed the interim Mk IX. It was virtually an un pressurized Mk VII in LF (Low Flying, Clipped), F (standard) and HF (High Flying, extended span) versions. Production totaled 1,658. RAF serials of the Indian Mk VIII s (F VIII, VIIIe, VIIIc and LF VIIIc) were in the JF, JG, LV, MD (both PR XI and the LF VIIIc shared this series) MT, MV , NH (shared by VIIIc, FR XIVe and F XVIIIe ) and PA series.

A rare shot of nose art and spinner spiral on a 2 Squadron IAF ‘A’ flt, LF.VIIIc at Miranshah in June 1946.

This LF VIIIc was TOC/RAF 5.2.44 arriving Karachi on 11.5.44 to ACSEA (No 228 Communications Flt) RIAF and then No 3 (Indian) Group Communications Flight in 1946. This aircraft along with a tragically large number of other Spitfires was destroyed by the departing RAF (“Struck Off Charge” in the RAF terms) by the simple expedient of dropping large concrete blocks with the help of a crane on 28.8.47.

The aircraft sports a curious scheme of silver without an anti glare panel, a two colour (red and Blue?) fin flash and a full pre war Type A roundel with the yellow outline.. Note also the ventral slipper tank.

Of the famous names attached to this mark is Plt Offr (later Air Chief Mshl and Chief of the Air staff) LM Katre who while with No 1 Squadron IAF, attempted a dead stick landing after an engine failure on MD 329 during a ferry from Nagpur to Hakimpet, and undershot the field. In the event the aircraft overturned 30 miles south of Nagpur (20043’N 7901’E) and the pilot was seriously injured.

Of the IAF’s Mk VIIIs, two have survived, namely MT 719 a LF VIIIc and NH 631 also a LF VIIIc. In February 2003, an almost intact Spitfire Mk VIII wreckage was escavated from the riverbed at Mullana near Ambala. This aircraft was identified as MV 459.

Indian Air Force Mk VIII Survivors Today

MT 719

This aircraft was taken on charge by the RAF on 21.6.44 and arrived Bombay on 5.9.44 for No 17 Squadron RAF (YB-J). It transferred to RIAF inventory on 29.12/47 was coded ‘93’ at one time. Its IAF history is unknown but it became a ground instructional airframe- T-17 with the NCC at Jaipur/Sanganer. The hulk was sold to Haydon-Baillie in 1978 with seven other Spitfires auctioned as one lot by the Govt of India. Today it is registered in the USA as N719 MT.

MT 719 as it was discovered at Jaipur in 1977. At that time, the previous Squadron letters YB-J could still be made out behind its IAF Roundel

Restored LF VIIIc survivor MT 719 as seen today in markings of No 17 Squadron RAF.

NH 631

The only flyable Spitfire in India, it began life with the RAF on 16.12.44 and arrived India on 19.2.45 for 151 OTU. It was loaned to the IAF around 5.46 and is known to have served with Nos 9 and 2 Squadrons IAF. It was finally transferred to the RIAF on 29.12.47 and moved to No 1 BRD on 22.11.49 and then to HQ Maintenance Command flight at Kanpur in 1950. After being scrapped, it was recovered by Air Cmde Harjinder Singh (the first “Hawai Sepoy” or Airmen of the IAF) and was test flown by the great Suranjan Das (later of HAL Marut fame) before being flown by Air Cmde Harjinder Singh to Ambala to receive his IAF wings brevet. The aircraft carries a plate under the nose carrying the inscription “Plumber” as this was the call sign Of Harjinder Singh (Plumber 11). This aircraft was moved to the IAF museum in 1967.

During the IAF’s Golden Jubilee on 8.10.82, the Spitfire (along with a Harvard, Tiger Moth, HT-2 and Vampire 52) was restored using Dakota, MiG 21, Kiran and Otter parts and flown as part of the IAF’s Historic Flight till 1989. During its “second birth” in the 1950s the aircraft would most probably have been painted in an all silver scheme as shown below, but was painted incorrectly in the scheme that it appeared-in in 1982.

Originally intended to be finished in the All Silver scheme shown in this profile with the Anti-Glare black paint on the engine cowling, the NH-631 ended up in the incorrect scheme shown below.SpitNH631-Profile.jpg (11991 bytes)

Restored LF VIIIc NH 631 During Air Force day celebrations 1989. Picture Courtesy : Arun Sharma

NH 631 never flew in the 90s. As with other aircraft of the vintage flight, it is maintained in airworthy condition, but never took to the air. Its seen here being towed on Air Force Day in 1997. Picture Courtesy : Simon Watson-

MV 459

MV 459 was a LF VIIIc (Merlin 66) TOC RAF 16.9.44 Arrived Bombay 8.12.44 for No 8 RFU ACSEA. to RIAF 1946 AFS(I). engine cut belly landed river Mullana village 10 m from Ambala on 23.5.47. declared cat FA/E P/O A D'Cruz OK. SOC 26.6.47

The aircraft was left at the crash site by the recovery team and it resurfaced during some digging in February 2003. Subsequently a team from Ambala Air Force Station visited the site and recovered the aircraft.

-MV459 in its restored state at Ambala Air Force Station

Mk IX : This was the urgent version to counter the Luftwaffe’s Fw 190 high altitude performance. A stop gap version to the definitive Mk VIII (which was the aircraft initially planned to counter the Fw 190 threat). It was essentially a quick lash up of the Merlin 61 with the Mk V airframe (first two prototypes- AB 196 and 197). An extra radiator was fitted underneath the port wing to house the intercooler and oil cooler finally giving a symmetrical appearance to the Spitfire. A twin 20 mm and twin 0.5in version also formed a small total of the 5,665 produced. The Mk IXs handed over to the RIAF were serialled in the MH, MJ, MK, and ML series. Sadly none of the Indian Mk IXs have survived today.

T Mk IX : After the second world war, Vickers Armstrong contracted with the RIAF to modify ten Mk IXs into two seat trainers by adding a rear, raised seat and moving the front cockpit forward by 13 ½ in. These were the only new build Spitfires received by the RIAF. The RIAF received the T Mk IXs from 11.48 to 9.49.

SpitTIXChakra.jpg (14752 bytes)Spitfire T Mk IX HS 534 (ex RAF MA 848) was the first of the batch of ten seen in the short lived Chakra markings before delivery.

All aircraft went to AFS (India), later SFTS at Ambala. The only other Air force to receive such aircraft was the Irish Air Corps. The original RAF serials and the IAF serials later applied are detailed below.

Table showing Serial numbers of T Mk IXs delivered to India

RAF Serial

Indian Serial

MA 848HS 534
MH 432HS 535
MJ 177HS 536
MJ 276HS 537
MJ 451HS 538
MJ 518HS 539
MK 172HS 540
MK 176HS 541
MK 298HS 452
ML 417HS 543

A pair of two seater Spitfire T MkIXs being serviced at Hakimpet. Pic Copyright : Jagan Pillarisetti

Only One T Mk IX has survived.

T Mk IX Survivors

ML 417 (originally a LF IXc clipped wing became HS 543) was the last T IX delivered. It was taken on Charge by the RAF on 28.4.44 and allotted to 443 RCAF Squadron based at Ford in Jun 42. Coded 21-T it saw action during D Day landings and by late Jun was based at St Croix-Sumer, Normandy. Claimed two FW 190 probables on 13 Jul and two Bf 109s on 19 Jul all over Roune. Claimed two 109s destroyed on 29 Sep and later passed through hands of 442, 401 and 441 Squadrons. Purchased by Vickers Armstrong on 31.10.46 for conversion to the trainer version. Delivered RIAF on 15.11.48, thisaircraft served with the AFS (India) till 1949 and then moved to Palam. It was sent to the IAF museum in 1967. It was sold to Senator Norman Gaar of Kansas City in 4.71 and flew after restoration as a single seater in the UK on 10.2.84. Sold/Shipped to US in January 2002 to Freidken Family. Based at Planes of Fame , Chino, CA.

The last of ten T Mk IX HS 543 (ex RAF ML417) seen at Overland park, Kansas in Nov 72. Today it is back in the USA after 25 years in the UK as a single seater registered N2TF
HS 543 as it appears today in its original Mk IX configuration as ML 417 in the markings of No 443 RCAF SquadronSpitML417n_Small.jpg (16548 bytes)

PR Mk XI: This was the unpressurized version of the PR Mk X version. A Merlin 63A replaced the Merlin 77. Total 471 produced. The only IAF units to operate the type were Nos 6, 7 and 15 Squadrons, No 15 being raised on the type in Aug 51. Ex RAF serials of this type were in the MB, PA and PL series with a few Mk VIIIe sharing the PA letters. One PR XI airframe –

Mk XI Survivors

PA 908 was handed over by 681 Squadron RAF on 29.12.47 after being declared BER on 9.5.46. Thus this aircraft never flew with the RIAF but immediately became a ground instructional airframe-M-342 at Allahabad. It was found in Poona in 1984 and sold to Jeet Mahal of Canada and today lies at the USAAF museum at Dayton Ohio painted as MB 950.

Indian Air Force Spitfire in the US Air Force Museum! PA908 has a fresh lease of life as MB950 at the USAF Museum at Dayton, Ohio. Photo Copyright : Jagan Pillarisetti

With a Hurricane IIc and a Mosquito FB IV in the background, a Spitfire PR Mk XI of 681 Squadron RAF is seen in the RAF PR blue scheme with SEAC markings at Monywa, Burma in ’44. These very aircraft were handed over to 6 and 7 Squadrons RIAF in 1945 and may have formed the basis for the raising of 15 Squadron RIAF on PR XIs in Jan 53.

Mk XIV: With the success of the experimental installation of the Griffon engine on the Mk V airframe (called the Mk XII), a completely new redesign of the Spitfire was planned around the MkVIII airframe with a new wing and the Griffon engine. This redesign was to appear as the Type 394, Mk XVIII. However, long before the new fighter appeared, there was an operational demand in 1943 for a fighter capable of greater performance at higher altitudes. To meet this demand, yet another type was evolved by mating the Griffon engine and the Mk VIII airframe. The result was the type 379 Spitfire Mk XIV. As had been the case with the Mk IX, built as a “stand in” for, but in larger numbers than the Mk VIII, so the Mk XIV was built in greater numbers than the Mk XVIII. Thus the MK XIV became the first to be fitted with a 2,050 hp Mk65 Griffon with deep symmetrical radiators and five bladed propellers. The completely redesigned airframe featured a new fuselage, broad chord fin, inboard ailerons and retractable tail wheel. The F XIV had twin 20mm and four .303 guns while the F XIVe had the twin 20mm plus two .5in gun arrangement. The FR XIVe had the same guns, cut down rear fuselage and teardrop hood, clipped wings, F24 camera and extra fuel. Production totaled 957. Almost all IAF units operated this type. Ex RAF serials were in the MV (shared with VIIIc), NH, and RM, RN, TX and SM (shared with XVIIIe also) series.

Spitfire F Mk XIVe (Griffon 65) RN 193 was taken on charge by the RAF on 10.2.45 and arrived Bombay on 15.5.45 for No 136 Squadron RAF “HM-A”. Here it is seen at Kuala Lampur in post war tail band. This aircraft was handed over to the RIAF in 1947 and served with the No 2 (India) Group Command Flight (still in H-MA markings). This aircraft was disposed of on 25.9.47.

Of the famous names attached to the Mk XIV was, then, Squadron Ldr Nur Khan (later Air Mshl and Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force). Who, while carrying out an air test on RN 133 (ex ‘FF-B’ No 132 Squadron RAF) on 28.7.47 with No 4 Squadron RIAF at Iwakuni, suffered a tyre burst and the aircraft was declared Cat FA. The aircraft was SOC on 24.7.48.

NH 803 arrived Karachi on 16.10.45. Transferred to 9 Squadron RIAF 1946. U/C failed to lock down on 20.2.47 and collapsed on landing at Nagpur. Flg Offr Zaheer-OK. Aircraft SOC 26.6.47.
NH 927 was a FR XIVe (Griffon 65) clipped wing which was TOC/RAF on 6.5.45, arrived Karachi 14.10.45 to ACSEA, India census 5.46 with 6 sqn. This ac is seen at Chakeri./ Kanpur in Aug 47 (No 320 MU). This picture was taken at Chakeri just before the aircraft was destroyed by dropping Concrete blocks on it on 28.8.47.

Six Mk XIV have survived to date. These are as follows:

Mk XIV Survivors

MV 262

Ex No 202 SP RAF
To RIAF 29.12.47
IAF history not known coded ‘42’ & ‘G’ at different times
With NCC at Calcutta in 1977
Sold Haydon- Baillie in 1978
Today owned by Kermit Weeks, Florida and is pending restoration.

MV 293

To RAF 27.2.45 - Loaned to 8 Squadron RIAF 15.10.45. Landed tail wheel retracted at Hakimpet 12.5.46 (Plt Offr SM Ahmed). To IAF inventory 29.12.47. Became ground instructional airframe ‘T-20’ at IAF technical College Jalahalli.

Sold War Birds of Great Britain in 1978. First flight 14.8.92 with spurious code ‘OI-C’ but original serial MV 293. Airworthy.

FRXIVe MV293 was shipped to India in August 1945 and joined the Indian Air Force in December 47. It was recovered from Jallhali in 1978.
MV 293 seen after restoration in the UK

MV 370

To RAF 10.2.45. Arrived Bombay 14.10.45 To AFS (India) 5.46 and IAF inventory 29.12.47.

Ground instructional airframe T-44 at Nagpur 1970. Hulk recovered by Hayden- Baillie in 1977. Restored to static condition for Luftfahrtmuseum, Laatzen, Hanover, Germany 1992. Displayed as MV 370/’EB-Q’ (Squadron code for No 41 Squadron RAF)

MV 370/T44 as discovered at Nagpur in 1970
MV 370 seems to have undergone a remarkable transformation as it is displayed in the Luftfahrt Museum in Hanover, Germany. Photo Copyright : Paul Nann

NH 749

Taken on Charge RAF – 26.2.45. Arrived Karachi 28.7.45 and loaned to AFS (India) 5.46. Transferred to RIAF Dec 47.

Coded ‘54’ and ‘D’ at different times.

Became ground instructional airframe T3 at the IAF Technical College at Jalahalli but recovered from Patna AFB by Haydon- Baillie in 1977. Restored at Cranfield and flew again on 9.4.83. Presently in USA as NX749DP. Airworthy.

NH 749 in its derelict state in Patna in 1977.

SpitNH749o_Small.jpg (30162 bytes)
SpitNH749o_Small.jpg (30162 bytes)FR XIVe NH 749 in full SEAC markings is today based in Santa Monica, CA in US and is owned by Mr. David Price. This is the same aircraft in which Air Cmde Peter Wilson (See photo at bottom) did his Solo.

NH799

Taken on charge RAF 14.3.45.Arrived Karachi 28.7.45. Loaned to 9 Squadron IAF 5.46. Engine cylinder blew during ground run 27.2.47. Declared Cat E. Transferred to RIAF Dec 47. Subsequent history not known Sold by IAF in 1981 to Doug Arnold and restored in 7.93. To New Zealand 3.94 and registered ZK-XIV. Airworthy. The aircraft had an accident in 1996 and is currently under restoration.

SpitNH799o.jpg (13480 bytes)FR XIVe NH 799 in a dis-assembled state on its arrival in UK and its later restored status with Doug Arnold's Warbirds of Great Britain. Photo Courtesy: Flypast

SM 832

Taken on charge RAF- 1.3.45. Arrived Karachi 5.45. Transferred to RIAF 12.47 to AFS (India). To Indian Military Academy Dehra Dun 1972.

Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1978. Restored and flew again 22.5.95. Marked SM 832/’YB-A’. To France 2.98 as F-AZSJ and operated out of Dijon. Airworthy.

Doug Arnold of Warbirds of Great Britain poses with SM-832 as it was displayed at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun
SM 832 as it appears today over France in the markings of 17 Squadron RAF (note Squadron Gauntlet emblem on nose). The same aircraft appears at the top of this page as the Main photograph. Picture Courtesy : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Michel Abraham

Mk XVIII: Almost identical in appearance to the Mk XIV, the Mk XVIII incorporated a new wing design, as opposed to the “universal” wing fitted to the interim Mk XIV. Armament remained the ‘E’ wing version. The Mk XVIII carried an additional two vertical cameras over the single oblique installation of the MkXIV and all aircraft had full span wings. Initially the MkXVIII s flew with the Griffon 65 until the Griffon 67 was introduced with an additional 300 hp. Becoming the most powerful Spitfire ever, it will also be remembered as probably the most beautiful. Production totaled 300. Ex RAF serials commenced with NH (shared with Mk XIVe and VIIIe), SM and TP. Since the Mk XVIII arrived in the late 40s, many have survived.

A total of nine ex IAF Mk XVIIIs are on the war bird register today. These are detailed below:

Mk XVIII Survivors

SM 845 - Thisaircraft was taken on charge by the RAF on 28.5.45. Arrived Karachi 11.2.46. Transferred to RIAF Dec 47. Almost certainly served with either 2, 9 or 101 Squadrons. RIAF serial HS687.

Found Kalaikunda and recovered by Historic Flying Limited. Flew after restoration on 7.7.2000, registered G-BUOS. Airworthy.

SpitSM845o_Small.jpg (18297 bytes)SM 845, a Mk FR XVIIIe as discovered at Kalaikunda in 1978. It was recovered by Ormold Haiden-Baille
SM 845, after restoration is now airworthy with Historic Flying in UK. Photo Courtesy : Duncan Cubbit - Key MagsSpitSM845n_Small.jpg (14980 bytes)

SM 969

This aircraft was taken on charge by the RAF on 30.8.45 and arrived in Karachi on 11.2.46.

Loaned to No 6 Squadron RIAF. Thisaircraft crashed on landing at Ranchi on 20.12.46
Backloaded to No 47 MU and sold to RJ Parkes. Re sold to RIAF as HS 877 on 16.7.49. Service history not known. It ended up as a gate guardian at HQ Western Air Command, Delhi in 1972.

Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1978 and was restored as D-A (for Doug Arnold, owner) with registration G-BRAF and flew 12.10.85. Currently in storage but airworthy.

SM 969/HS 877 as seen at the HQ Western Air Command, Delhi in 1972.
SM 969 seen after restoration in 10.85 at Duxford.SpitSM969n_Small.jpg (13840 bytes)

SM 986

Became HS 986, TOC RAF 11.10.45. To 47 MU 8.47. Sold to RJ Parkes for RIAF 6.49.

No 1 BRD IAF until 5.52. Then 14 Squadron 5.52 and back to 1 BRD in 6.54. To IAF museum in 1967 and extant.

SM 986/HS 986 as seen in the IAF Museum in spurious scheme(in olive green and air force blue, the only two colours easily available to the IAF museum). Photo Copyright : Jagan Pillarisetti

TP 263

Became HS649. TOC RAF 2.6.45. Arriving Karachi on 31.1.46. TO RIAF Dec 47. Service history not known. Coded ‘NL’ at one time. Was part of a Haydon-Baillie recovery in 1977 from Kalaikunda. Fuselage sent to UK and wings to USA. Converted to high back and exchanged with National War and Resistance museum, Overloon, Netherlands and marked as NH 649 in lieu of a known RAF serial (at that time).

TP 263/HS 649 as seen at Kalaikunda inside a HAS in 1977. Clearly theaircraft had suffered a ‘nose over’ losing its props and smashing the spinner.The skin under the nose also appears to have been torn off.

TP 276

Became HS 653. TOC RAF 20.6.45 Arrived Karachi 12.2.46.

To RIAF Dec 47. Coded ND at one time. Service history not known. Discovered at Barrackpore in 1977. Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1978 and sold to Rudolf Frasca. Restored and located at Frasca Air Museum, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

TP 276 as discovered at Barrackpore in 1977.

TP 280

Became HS 654. TOC RAF 19.6.45. Arrived Karachi 30.3.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Served 9 Squadron and AFS (India). Discovered in Kalaikunda in 1977. Coded NG at one time. Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1977 and sold to Rudolf Frasca. Restored by Historic Flying Limited in 1992 and UK registered G-BTXE. Back to USA registered N280TP and flown as TP280/Z. Located at Frasca Air Museum, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

TP 280/HS 654 as discovered at Kalaikunda in 1977SpitTP280o_Small.jpg (19658 bytes)
SpitTP280n.jpg (17974 bytes)TP 280/HS 654 as seen today in the markings of 60 Squadron RAF during the ‘Malayan emergency’1950 denoted by the yellow and black stripes. This was the last RAF unit to operate the Spitfire.

TP 298

Became HS 662. TOC RAF 17.7.45 Arrived Karachi 12.2.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Service history not known. Found Kalaikunda in 1977. Recovered Haydon- Baillie 1978. Restored as N41702 and then N93232Z. Fatal crash on 19.4.94. Currently again under restoration.

TP 298/HS 662 as seen at Kalaikunda in 1977.

TP 367

Became HS 674. TOC RAF 22.10.45. Arrived Karachi 31.1.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Coded ‘NB’ at one time. Service history not known. Found IIT Kharagpur in 1979. Initially sold to Jeet Mahal of Vancouver , Canada but export not allowed. Re sold to ‘sandy’, Bedfordshire, UK 17.8.94. Currently with JM Limbeuf Rouen, France.

TZ 219

Became HS 683. TOC RAF 8.12.45 Arriving Karachi 11.2.46. To RIAF 31.12.47. Service history not known. Presented by AVM Harjinder Singh to Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh in the fifties. HS 674 painted on. Believed to be a composite airframe of both HS 674 and HS 683.

Click to EnlargeSupermarine Spitfire XVIII HS-674 at the Punjab Engineering college in Chandigarh More information on this aircraft is at Warbirds of India. Photo Courtesy : India Today.

PR Mk XIX: This was the final photo recce version 2,050hp Griffon 65 with the unpressurised cockpit then the 67 with pressurized cockpit. This aircraft with deep slipper tank could make a 2900 Km trip. It was also the last of the Spitfire marks flown by the RAF (1 Apr 54). Production totaled 225. RAF serials of aircraft handed over to the RIAF commenced with the serials PM and PS. Only one ex RIAF/IAF PR MK XIX has survived.

Mk XVIII Survivors

PM 627

This Spitfire became HS 694 and was TOC RAF 20.9.45. It moved to No 9 MU on 4.6.52 and was sold to Vickers Armstrong on 15.2.53 and then onto No 1 PR Squadron IAF in 1953. It moved to No 1 BRD in 1955 and back to No 1 PR Squadron till 1957 and then stored at Palam till 1970. Recovered to Canada on 3.2.71 and then to Swedish AF Museum in 1982.

Spitfire XIX PM-627 at the Swedish Air Force Museum. A Walkaround of the Spitfire is presented at this Link . Photo Courtesy : Joachim Smith, IPMS

A PR MK XIX of 101 PR Flt at Palam in the early 1950s. Note overall PR blue scheme and white band on tail. Thisaircraft appears to have PR blue spinner as well, although other commentators have said that these were black.

The Units

Fifteen units of the IAF had the pleasure of operating the Spitfire. These were Nos 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16 Fighter and No 1 PR Squadron (later 101 Squadron) and No 1 AFS(India) (Advanced Flying School (India) and No 2 FTS (Flying Training School).

No 1 Squadron (Tigers) : Formed 01.4.43 at Drigh Rd with Wapiti IIa for Army Co-op then Hart, Audax and Lysander. Converted to Fighter unit with Hurricane Mks I and IIb from Sep 44. With Spitfire LF VIIIc from Nov 45 at Kohat. Samungli 02 Apr 46, then Yelahanka 18 Jun 46. Detachment at Miranshah from 27 Oct 45 to 7 Apr 46 and again from 27 Mar 47 with few FR XIVe. Reduced to 8 from 16 MkVIII from 15 May 47 and moved to Peshawar. Re equipped Tempest F.II Jul 47 and assets transferred to RPAF 15 Aug 47. Re-raised in 1951 by renumbering No.15 Squadron on 26 Jan 1953. Flew Vampires, Mysteres and MiG-21s. Today flying Mirage 2000 H/TH.

1 Squadron pilots ‘scramble’ and ‘brief’ for a photo shoot at Samungli in 1946. Note SEAC bands still applied to their Mk VIIIe s. The pilots are Haider, Thandi, Zahid, Phillip, Beg, Subia, Mendoza and Aziz.

No 2 Squadron (Winged Arrows) : Formed 1.4.41 at Peshawar with Wapiti IIa for army co –op, then Lysander from 24 Nov 41. Converted to Tac R role with Hurricane IIb from 7 Sep 42 then Spitfire LF VIIIc from Jan 46 at Kohat. Samungli from 9 Nov 46 then Poona 10 Feb 47. Manned detachments at Miranshah from 2 Apr 46 to 6 Jun 46 then Aug 46. Reduced to 8 from 16 Mk VIII 31 May 47. Re equipped F/FR XVIIIe Dec 48 till Oct 53. Currently flying MiG 27 ML.

A No 2 Squadron LF VIIIc in the post war silver scheme in Indian markings. Thisaircraft (almost certainly MT 915, Merlin 66) was taken on charge by the RAF on 15.11.44 and arrived India on 4.2.45. Reflected in RIAF India census of 5.46, taken on charge by 2 Squadron from 20.1.46 till 4.47. Retd RAF and struck off charge on 31.7.47. Its IAF service is unknown.
Another view of a 2 Squadron F VIII in SEAC scheme but with type ‘D’ Indian roundels and single letter ID. The serial is a mystery as no ‘NT ---‘ existed and no VIIIs existed in any T---- serials.

No 3 Squadron (Cobras): Formed 1.10.41 as FR unit at Peshawar with Audax I. Converted to FB role with Hurricane IIc from Nov 43. With 16 LF VIIIc from Nov 45 at Risalpur and at Kolar from 2 Jan 46. Re equipped with Tempest F.II from Sep 47. Currently flying MiG 21 Bison (Bis Upgrade).

A 3 Squadron MkVIII in SEAC markings but no White ID bands (onlyaircraft in theater would have these applied) rests at Peshawar. Note white spinner with a colored tip (red?)

No 4 Squadron (Oorials): Formed 1 Feb 42 as Tac R unit at Peshawar with Lysander II. Then Hurricane IIc for FGA from Aug 43. Spitfire LF VIIIc from Jun 45 at Yelahanka. Some F/FR XIVe from Jan 46 to Mar 46. Embarked for Japan on 6 Mar 46 as part of Commonwealth occupation forces, based Iwakuni from 31 Mar 46 with F/FR XIVe and Miho (Hiroshima) from 6 May 46. Returned to India 19 Jul 47 leaving all aircraft in Japan. Re equipped Kanpur/Chakeri on Tempest F.II. Today Flying MiG 21 Bis.

No 4 Squadron RIAF embark HMS Vengeance for trip to Japan end Mar 46. One FR Mk XIVe wears the serial RN 202? And the other MV2--. Theseaircraft sport the RAF ‘C’ type roundel whilst many other 4 Squadronaircraft sported both the silver and camouflage schemes with the SEAC Blue and Sky Blue roundel but no white ID bands in Japan.

No 6 Squadron (Dragons): Formed 1.12.42 at Trichinapoly with Hurricane IIb for Tac R. Converted to Spitfire LF VIIIc and F/FR XIVe from Nov 45 at Kohat (also had few PR.XI). Ranchi from 10 Jan 46 disbanding on 30 Apr 47. Reformed next day at Mauripur (Karachi) as Dakota unit. Ceased to exist on 15 Aug 47 pending formation as PAF unit. Later reformed as IAF Liberator unit. This unit had the honour of being commanded by Squadron Ldr JC Varma DFC (1.8.46 to 11.1.47), the only other Indian (sources state that Flt Lt MS Pujji whilst with 43 Squadron RAF flying the Spifire Mk Vc claimed two Bf 109s destroyed and one probable over Europe in 1943) to bring down an enemy aircraft in WW II (a JAAF Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar) flown by Cpl Tsuneo Nabeta of the 204th Sentai on 15.2.44 over Taung Bazaar). Currently flying Jaguar M.

No 7 Squadron (Bison, later Battle Axes): Formed 1.12.42 at Vizagapatnam with Vengeance I, later III. Hurrican IIc from Nov 44. Converted to Spitfire F/FR XIVe (also some LF VIIIc and PR XI) from Dec 45 to Mar 46 at Gwalior. Then Kohat, Miranshah and Risalpur on 30 Apr 47. Re equipped with Tempest F II at Agra from May 47. However re equipped with Spitfires (due spares problems with Tempest) which served till early 49 alongside Vampires and took part in Kashmir operations in 47/48. Currently flying Mirage 2000 H/TH.


No 8 Squadron (The Eighth Pursoot): This was the only IAF squadron to be equipped with Spitfires and fly them in action during WW2. Also formed 1.12.42 with 7 Squadron at Trichinapoly with Vengeance I and III. Spitfire LF VIIIc from Jul 44 at Samungli. Operated four Mk V/Trop in Nov 44 from Amarda Road pathfinding for Allied P-51s and P-47s. Nidania from 29 Dec 44 and Baigachi from 23 Feb 45. Flew operations from ‘George’ strip south of Cox Bazaar from 3.1.45. Two flights operated from Akyab forward strip carrying out patrols along the beachs and covered the landing of the 26 Indian Div at Ramree island. Embarked for Rangoon 19 Jul 45. Took over 16 Spitfires VIIIs from 607 Squadron RAF at Mingaladon. Carried out “cab-rank” patrols with one 500 lb bomb alongside RAF Thunderbolts against Japanese forces escaping west of the Rangoon-Toungoo Rd. Spitfires also dropped supplies to the Burmese guerillas of force 136 behind enemy lines. The last operational sortie by a RIAF Spitfire was on 13.8.45 when a lone aircraft dropped supplies to a small groups of V-Force men in the Kyaukki area. 8 Squadron Spitfires escorted the two Japanese aircraft transporting Lt Gen Numata from Elephant Point to Mingaladon outside Rangoon to sign the instrument of surrender. The Squadron returned to India 24 Jan 46 then Trichinopoly with F/FR XIVe on 4 Feb 46. Moved to Kolar and re equipped with Tempest FII from Oct 46. last Spitfire left behind on moving to Poona on 13 May 47. Currently flying MiG 21 FL.

A Spitfire FR XIVe clipped wing MV 364 ‘A’ of 8 Squadron at Kolar in 1946. Note the SEAC markings with ‘D’ type roundel in Indian Colours. The exact date when Indian markings were applied is not known. However, this appears to have occurred around mid-1946.

No 9 Squadron (Wolf pack): Formed 3.1.44 at Lahore with Hurricane IIc. Converted to LF VIIIc from May 45 at Baigachi. Then to Ranchi Oct 45 and to Hmawbi /Rangoon in Nov 45 with some F/FR XIVe. Back to Willingdon in Jan 46 and Gwalior in Feb. Totally re equipped with F/FR XIVe , moved to Peshawar in Mar 46 and Bhopal on 14 Jan 47. Reduced to 8 XIVs and then re equipped with Tempest F II and transferred to RPAF on 15 Aug 47. Re raised as an RIAF unit in 1948 on F/FR XVIIIe and served until Oct 53. Currently flying Mig 27 ML.

No 10 Squadron (Daggers): Formed 20 Feb 44 at Lahore with Hurricane IIc. Converted to Spitfire LF VIIc from May 45 at Yelahanka (six LF VIIIc from 17 Squadron RAF). Moved to Kajamalai/ Trichinapoly May 45 and then to Ulunderpet in Nov 45. Then to Hmawbi on 22 Nov 45 and back to Baigachi and Barrackpore on 15 Feb 46. Finally to Chakeri on 15 may 47 to convert to Tempest MkIIs. Currently flying MiG 27 ML.

No 12 Squadron (Camels): Formed 1.12.45 with LF VIIIc at Kohat. To Risalpur on 28 Jan 46 and Bairagarh on 23 Jun 46, converting to Dakotas from Aug 46. Currently flying AN-32.

No 14 Squadron (Fighting Bulls): Formed 15 Aug 51 with F/FR XVIIIe at Ambala. To Barrackpore in 52 and back to Halwara in 57. Became last piston engined front line unit of the IAF. Converted to Hunters in 1957. Currently flying Jaguar S.

A No 14 Squadron FR Mk XVIIIe lies with a broken back after overshooting the Runway at Halwara. Note the black tail band (also wing tips) applied to all Spitfires and Tempests at that time

No 15 Squadron (Flying Lancers): Formed 20 Aug 51 at Ambala as PR unit with PR Mk XI. Disbanded Jan 53. Re raised, Currently Mig 21 Bis unit.

No 16 Squadron (Cobras); Formed in 1951 with F/FR XVIIIe. Ceased to operate Spitfires in 1954. Currently operating Jaguar S.

No 101 Squadron (Falcons): Formed as No 1 PR Flt in Jan 48 at Jammu with FR XVIIIe and then with PR XIX from 49. Disbanded 1958. Re raised in 1968 on Su-7s, currently flying MiG 21 M in PR role.

Advanced Flying School (India): Formed 1 Apr 46 from No 1 (Indian) Advanced Flying Unit, No 1 Service Flying Traing School and No 151 OTU at Ambala and absorbed into RIAF on 1 Jun 47. Flew LF VIIIc, F/Fr XIVe and XVIIIe and finally T.IX from 1949 to 57.

A FR Mk XIVe of the AFS (India) Ambala in the post ‘chakra’ markings hastily applied over the earlier type ‘C’ roundel. Most Spitfires in the training role carried a double digit ID numeral under the cockpit.

Spitfire FR XIVe NH 786 of the SFTS RIAF Ambala seen at Peshawar during 1946. It was written off on 2.8.46 when the engine failed during aerobatics and the aircraft was force landed 12 miles east of Ambala Plt Offr SMS Haque being injured.

Spit-AmbConv_Small.jpg (24223 bytes)Flight Cadets pose with a Spitfire FR XVIIIe at Ambala. Photo Courtesy : Wg Cdr IM Chopra (Retd) via Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava

No 2 Flying Training school (FTS): Formed at Jodhpur, temporarily used T.IXs from 1949 to 57.

Spit-InderChopra_Small.jpg (15995 bytes)
Wg Cdr Don Michael and his pupils at Advanced Flying School Hakimpet. Plt Offr (later Air Mshl) Prithi Singh is on his left. Note the white band on the black spinner of this Mk XVIIIe with zero length rocket rails.Plt Offr (later Wg Cdr Retd, Chief test Pilot then Chairman HAL) IM Chopra poses by an Mk XVIII. Note white spinner with black (??) roundels. Photo Courtesy : Wg Cdr IM Chopra (Retd) via Gp Capt Kapil BhargavaFlight Cadet Peter Maynard Wilson (later Air Cmde Retd, PVSM and VrC) with a Spitfire Mk XVIII at AFS Ambala. Photo Courtesy : Air Cmde Peter Wilson (Retd) via K Sree Kumar

* Phrase inscribed on the Silver Trophy presented to the Royal Air Force by Supermarine and Rolls Royce, implying that the old soldier is retiring finally after doing its duty in war.

Acknowledgements: I would wish to thank the following people without whose research, love for the IAF and the Spitfire and support, this article would not be possible, in no particular order they are:

Helmut Terbeck, Harry van Der Meer , Ray Sturtivant , Peter Arnold, Phil camp, Simon Watson, Pushpinder Singh, Jagan Pillarisetti and my father.

Wherever possible the Original Copyright owners of the photographs have been contacted and permission taken for. Most of the Spitfire Survivor's 'Before Restoration' photographs are from Mr. Peter Arnold's collection.

All the photographs on this page are hosted on "www.bharat-rakshak.com". This article originally appeared on that website.

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