Headcorn has been a magnet for exciting and rare aircraft for many years now, as has been highlighted on a number of these posts in the past, on the most part these aircraft have all come from civilian operators or owners.
While the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight have visited by air a number of times, including the memorable appearance of the Lancaster pair last year, they have never actually landed on the airfield.
On Sunday 17th May however that all changed. Following on from an early display at Eastbourne, Spitfire Vb AB910 was seen running in for an impressive run and break to land over the airfield. This arrival marked a major milestone for Headcorn.
I hadn’t yet managed to see “AB” since the major rebuild program which finished earlier this year, so to have the aircraft turn up on my doorstep one Sunday morning was a good piece of luck!
I have outlined the history of this particular Spitfire in earlier posts looking at the UK population, but here is a summary:
AB910 was first allocated to 222 squadron at North Weald in August 1941, after a short stay with the unit the aircraft was transferred over to 130 squadron, with whom a number of bomber escort missions were flown. “AB” also saw service with 133 squadron, gaining success in the hands of Flight Sergeant Alexander.
Eventually the aircraft ended up with 402 RCAF squadron, which led to a number of patrols over the beaches on the 6th June 1944. Following the war AB910 saw life as an air racer before returning to RAF service with the Memorial Flight.
As with the rest of the collection the paint scheme on the Spitfire is rotated every few years, having only re-flown in February this paint scheme is looking particularly fresh and seeing a Mk V Spitfire with D-Day stripes certainly makes a change.
The scheme AB910 now wears is that of a 64 Squadron aircraft, in this case the personal aircraft of Flight Lieutenant Tony Cooper, who named the aircraft “Peter John I”. Tony’s aircraft took on this name on the 22nd May 1944, following the birth of his son, Peter John, on the 5th.
The combination of this unique paint scheme and a step back towards the classic Mk V look, (the aircraft had flown with later exhausts and a four bladed prop until this year), AB910 must be fighting to be one of the best looking Spitfires on the circuit and it was a joy to get an unexpected up close look.