Spitfire IX ML417 aerial combat record

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by -mc-, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. -mc-

    -mc- New Member

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    Hi there,

    I recently purchased the Gemini Aces RCAF No. 443 sqn Spitfire IX ML417 2I-T of F/O Hodgins September 1944 double victory and was looking to produce a miniature fact sheet to display beside it which would detail among other things its air combat record. I thought this a simple task until I found that there lacks some consistency from book to book, website to website. I was wondering if anyone on these forums could lend a hand. Here is what I have done so far. Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made.

    I first took a look at the book Spitfire Flying Legend: The Fighter and the ‘Few’ by John Dibbs and Tony Holmes. In it is stated the following “…(ML417 is) credited with the destruction of two Bf 109Gs over Arnhem on 29 September 1944, plus a Bf 109G and a Fw 190 damaged over Alencon and Falaise respectively in the first two weeks of July (1944).” (page 102)

    I next looked to the internet and found the following:

    “In one hectic week she severely damaged an Fw190, scored a probable Me109 and destroyed a further pair of Me109's" link

    “Credited with one Fw 190 damaged. Credited with two Bf 109 confirmed destroyed. Credited with one Bf 109 probably destroyed” (The Fighter Collection previous owner of ML417) link

    “June 26 claimed Fw 190 damaged/probable over Normandy. Two Bf 109’s destroyed September 29” link

    What I was really looking to find was what the Planes of Fame (current owner of ML417) had on their website, but I could not find anything.

    Finally I checked the four volumes of the 2nd Tactical Air Force by Christopher Shore and Chris Thomas. Below is how the books display the actions for each day.

    Time Sqn Type Ident Pilot/Crew Claim destroyed probable damaged cause/location

    I first confirmed the destruction of two Bf 109s over Nijmegen on 29 September 1944 (page 316 v2). Note that Spitfire Flying Legend stated it was over Arnhem.

    10:35 433 Spitfire IX ML417 F/O R.A. Hodgins Bf109 2 - - Nijmegen

    I next focused on the first two weeks of July. On 13 July I found the Falaise claim (page 217 v2):

    18:40 443 Spitfire IX ML417 F/L W.A. Prest Fw190 - - 1 Falaise Area

    That just left the Bf109 damaged claim, but this I could not find. I did find three things however. The first was on 26 June (page 181 v1):

    12:15 443 Spitfire IX nk (not known) T F/L W.A. Prest Fw190 - - 1 W Rouen

    It is not in the first two weeks of July but close. It is also not a Bf109 and not over Alencon. It does match the third website quote above though. There is a T written beside the not known identification. I am certain that the letter T refers to the 443 squadron code for ML417 2I-T which is on either side of the fuselage, as well as a T marked under the nose. Other actions for the day show letters like U, P, V, K etc… next to other serial numbers. This is interesting because on 7 June (page 143 v1):

    e17:00 443 Spitfire IX nk T F/L W.A. Prest Bf109 - - 1 E Caen nc (not confirmed) 2TAF

    This action however was not confirmed but does have the T and Prest at the controls. It does appear that Prest and Hodgins regularly flew ML417. This still leaves the damaged Bf109 over Alencon unaccounted for. The closest I found for this action was on 30 July (page 236 v2):

    15:40 443 Spitfire IX ML153 F/O R.A. Hodgins Bf109 - - 1 E Alencon

    This is of course a different date and aircraft. So according to 2nd Tactical Air Force, ML417 has:

    • - Two Bf-109 kills on 29 Sept over Nijmegen
    • - One Fw190 damaged on 13 July over Falaise
    • - One Fw190 damaged on 26 June west of Rouen
    • - One unconfirmed Bf109 damaged on 7 June east of Caen

    I am more inclined to believe the 2nd Tactical Air Force but what do you guys think?
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #2 Airframes, Dec 3, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
    I haven't found anything further on the scores, including the listings in the Morgan /Shacklady book 'Spitfire, the History', generally regarded as the 'Bible', although the latter does, of course, show the service history, including conversion to two-seat trainer with the Indian Air Force.
    I'd tend to go with the info in the '2 TAF' book, as the authors are well respected and known for accuracy.
    BTW, the 'T' is the individual code letter. Squadron ORBs and Pilot's Log Books often only indictae the code letter, and not the serila number.
    Sorry I can't add anything more positive.
    EDIT: Forgot to add; the June 7th action could not have been ML417, as the aircraft didn't reach the squadron until 22 June 1944.
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Go with your assessment. At this point, the arguments you have are really going to be in the weeds. All you need to do accept that you've heard the other arguments and you've come to the conclusion your description is the best. There is no way you'll be able to tag it one way or another. But by picking the best option and then defending it with your analysis, you'll do about as well as you can.
     
  4. -mc-

    -mc- New Member

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    Thanks for the assistance guys. :D The June 22nd delivery date certainly helps. I had never heard of Spitfire the History, but after looking it up I can see it will be difficult to get a copy. Out of curiosity, is there a comparable book concerning the P-51?
     
  5. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Far as I know, the Spitfire book is still available via Key Publishing, the people who publish 'Fly Past' magazine, although it was £40 twenty years ago, so expect it to be a lot more now!
    I don't know of any books on the P51 to the same standard as the Spitfire volume, although there are many, many books covering the subject.
     
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