Gentile's Spitfire(s) ...

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Airman 1st Class
Hey guys,

I recently got bit big time by the "Spitfire" bug - the Eagle Squadron/4th FG variety. I must confess that in the past I've only glossed over the Spitfire period of the Eagles/4th, preferring to concentrate on the P-47 and P-51 eras.

Doing a little bit of research in primary 4th FG sources, including the official daily diaries of the 133 ES/336 FS and Gentile's log book, I have a question/observation:

His Spit Vb, "Buckeye Don", of which I've only seen one picture (Gentile standing by the nose art - no fuselage serial shown), is depicted as BL255 (serving with 133 Sqdn then 336 FS) in decal sheets and beautiful models. However, in digging through the logs, and cross-referencing Gentile's log book, I see MD-T being BL776 . . . BL255 is not mentioned at all in the daily sortie lists.*

*[One caveat/qualification: The official 133 ES/336 FS records only begin mentioning actual serial numbers, e.g., BL776, in March 1943, just about the time the slow transition to Jugs began (the 4th FG introduced the P-47 into combat). Prior to that, there's only a written narrative for each day (no specific sortie/pilots/serial numbers) . . . and Gentile's logbook, following RAF practice, only lists aircraft flown each day by code letter, e.g., "T" - no specific serial for each plane is mentioned.]

So, going only on the "March 1943" sortie lists, and Gentile's logbook, my theory is this: somewhere BL255 must be shown as "Buckeye Don" - I'll accept that, though I don't know exactly where historians are sourcing this. But this plane isn't listed at all in March 1943's sortie lists. Until evidenced otherwise, I'm going on the assumption that Don flew BL255 with 133 ES, and maybe a short time with 336 FS -- then, at some point in late 1942, BL255 transferred out (it is in fact known that BL255 had a life after 336 FS), and BL776 became the new "T", and the "Donnie Boy" art panel was switched from BL255 to BL776.

This same thing happened with the art panel for Gentile's later P-47D-1 VF-T 42-7884 "Donnie Boy", and then his assigned P-47D-5 VF-T 42-8659 "Donnie Boy" -- the latter is the only one showing up as "Donnie Boy", but in fact 7884 (later Godfrey's VF-P "Lucky - Reggie's Reply") carried the art panel first. There are numerous documented other examples of "panel swaps" in the 4th FG, both in P-47s and a couple in P-51s, so the practice was not unheard of.

Anybody have anything to add?


Sounds as though you've done some thorough research. Gentile and Godfrey are a couple of my all time favorite pilots too. I can add only that planes got flown by different pilots fairly often. Later Shangri-La wasn't used by anyone else after Don made his name so to speak. But earlier when he or Godfrey weren't on a mission roster other guys flew Reggies Reply or Buckeye Don to be sure.
I can see what you mean by the confusion as to which serial numbered spitfire it was...

Attached is the photo i think that you're talking about along with a colour profile plate of the spitfire in question.

Both were taken from American Eagles - american volunteers in the RAf 1937-1943 by Tony Holmes

This is all the info that I have regarding this particular spit.


  • Don Gentille and BUCKEYE.jpg
    Don Gentille and BUCKEYE.jpg
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  • Spitfire BUCKEYE DON .jpg
    Spitfire BUCKEYE DON .jpg
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