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EN915

Spitfire

Spitfire Mk Vb EN915 was built at the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory, Castle Bromwich, and delivered to the RAF at 37 Maintenance Unit, Burtonwood, on 17 May 1942. It was issued to 154 Squadron at Hornchurch on 12 June 1942. During its time with 154 Squadron, EN915 was flown by P/O Ted Hurt on four operations, the last of which was a sweep over France on 29 June 1942. P/O Hurt was shot down and killed near St Omer on 30 July 1942.
On 19 July 1942, EN915 was transferred to 71 (Eagle) RAF Squadron at Debden. This unit included many American personnel, and took part in convoy patrols, as well as Circus, Rhubarb and Ramrod operations over enemy-occupied territory.
With 71 Squadron, EN915 was flown by various pilots, including: Plt Off S M Anderson, 2nd Lt D W Beeson, Wg Cdr R M B Duke-Woolley, 2nd Lt V J France, Plt Off H D Hively, 2nd Lt A H Hopson, Plt Off R D McMinn, Plt Off R L Priser, Sgt A J Seaman, Capt R A Sprague, Plt Off W D Taylor and 2nd Lt G H Whitlow. Plt Off Bill Taylor was its regular pilot, and flew the aircraft on several operations, including three in support of the Dieppe raid, ‘Jubilee’, on 19 August 1942. He was shot down off the Belgian coast on 31 August 1942, and has no known grave.
71 Squadron was transferred from the RAF to the US Army Air Forces on 1 October 1942, and re-numbered as 334 Squadron. On 1 December 1942, A/C was damaged in a mid-air collision with Spitfire W3636. Capt Bob Sprague, the pilot of the latter aircraft, was killed in this accident.
On 13 April 1943, EN915 was dispatched to Scottish Aviation Ltd for repairs. It joined the Telecommunications Flying Unit at Defford on 1 October 1943. At Defford, EN915 acted as a ‘target’ during radar flight trials, but also had a secondary role, providing air defence for the station.
On 1 February 1945, the Station Commander, Gp Capt John McDonald, took off from Defford on a flight to St Davids in Pembrokeshire. En route, directional control was lost, because a bolt in the control linkage to the rudder had not been properly secured. Gp Capt McDonald headed back to Defford, but decided that it would be safer to abandon the aircraft by parachute than to attempt a landing without the use of the rudder. Over open country, he climbed EN915 to a height of 9,000 feet, then baled out.
Gp Capt McDonald landed safely near Stoke Orchard airfield, while EN915 dived steeply into the ground at The Leigh, to the south of Tewkesbury. Surface wreckage was cleared from the crash site, but all parts forward of the cockpit were left buried there. When these remains were unearthed at Leigh Court Farm nearly 50 years later, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine was found to have penetrated the ground to a depth of 12 feet as a result of the Spitfire’s high speed impact.

The Merlin engine from EN915 and other parts recovered from the crash site are now preserved by Defford Airfield Heritage Group

Service

Units

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    Squadron
    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    Squadron
    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...

People

  • Duane Beeson

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot
    Duane W Beeson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, by February 1942 he had completed over 200 hours of flying and was transferred to Britain to join No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron, RAF 24 days later he joined the 4th Fighter Group in September 1942....

  • Raymond Duke-Woolley

    Military | Wing Commander | Pilot / Wing and later Group commander
    Took command of Debden Wing [3 x Eagle Sqn] ...

  • Victor France

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot-1055 single engine
    Victor France was from Dallas, Texas, and he appropriately named his P-47 and later his ...

  • Howard Hively

    Military | Major | Fighter pilot | 4th Fighter Group
    Howard Hively hailed from Columbus, Ohio, and Norman, Oklahoma. While becoming interested in oil leases and attempting to form an aero-exploration firm, he saw a poster in a Dallas hotel inviting him to join the RAF's Eagle Squadrons. He applied, was...

  • Robert Hobert

    Military | Captain | Pilot
    Robert Hobert was from Woodland, Washington. He was assigned to the 133 [Eagle] Sqn RAF and transferred to the 336th fighter squadron, 4th Fighter Group, in May 1943 staying until April 1944. ...

  • Alfred Hopson

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    Joined RAFVR, trained as service pilot in US. Shipped to ETO, operationally trained at OTU, assigned to 71 [Eagle] Sqn RAF as a P/O on probation. Transferred to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF as Lt, promoted Capt. Transferred to 336FS, 4FG. Transferred to 63FS,...

  • Richard McMinn

    Military | Captain | Fighter pilot
    Joined RAFVR, service pilot training in US, shipped overseas to ETO, operational training at OTU, assigned to 71 [Eagle] Sqn RAF, transferred to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF, ...

  • Robert Priser

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot | 354th Fighter Group
    Robert Priser joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before the entry of the United States into the war. After training at Glendale, California, he arrived in England in January 1942 where he followed additional training on Spitfires. Assigned to RAF N°71...

  • Anthony Seaman

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot
    Joined RAFVR, service pilot training in US, shipped overseas to ETO, operational training at OTU, assigned to 71S, transferred to 334th FS, 4th FG, 8AF USAAF, On convoy patrol, he had engine trouble, exploded in mid air and crashed into the sea 10...

  • Robert Sprague

    Military | Captain | Pilot
    Killed in Action (KIA) 26 November 1942 during a training flight in Spitfire Mk Vb W3636, in a mid air collision with Spitfire Nk Vb EN915.

Show more

Places

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

Events

Event Location Date
Manufactured Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, UK 1942

Built at the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory, Castle Bromwich.

Delivered Burtonwood, Warrington, UK 17 May 1942

Delivered to the Royal Air Force at 37 MU Maintenance Unit, Burtonwood, on 17 May 1942.

Assigned Hornchurch, Greater London, UK 12 June 1942

Issued to 154 Squadron at Hornchurch on 12 June 1942.

Operational France 12 June 1942 – 29 June 1942

Flown with 154 Sqn by P/O Ted Hurt on four operations, the last of which was a sweep over France on 29 June 1942.

Transferred 71 Sqn RAF Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 19 July 1942

19 July 1942, EN915 was transferred to 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF at Debden.

Dieppe Veteran 19 August 1942

Three operations in support of the Dieppe raid, ‘Jubilee’, on 19 August 1942.

Transferred USAAF 1 October 1942

Transferred from the RAF to the 334 Sqn USAAF on 1 October 1942.

Mid-air collision 1 December 1942

Damaged in a mid-air collision with Spitfire W3636. Capt Bob Sprague, the pilot of the latter aircraft, was killed in this accident. 1st December 1942.

Sent for repair Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, Glasgow City GB41, UK 13 April 1943

Dispatched to Scottish Aviation Ltd for repairs.

Assigned Defford, Worcester, Worcestershire WR8, UK 1 October 1943

Joined Telecommunications Flying Unit at Defford on 1 October 1943. Acted as a ‘target’ during radar flight trials, but also had a secondary role, providing air defence for the station.

Crashed Tewkesbury, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire GL20, UK

On 1 February 1945, the Station Commander, Gp Capt John McDonald, took off from Defford on a flight to St Davids in Pembrokeshire. En route, directional control was lost, because a bolt in the control linkage to the rudder had not been properly secured. Gp Capt McDonald headed back to Defford, but decided that it would be safer to abandon the aircraft by parachute than to attempt a landing without the use of the rudder. Over open country, he climbed A/C to a height of 9,000 feet, then baled out.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2015 16:56:26 Al_Skiff Changes to person associations
Sources

https://deffordairfieldheritagegroup.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/spitfire-e...

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2015 15:34:19 Al_Skiff Changes to description
Sources

https://deffordairfieldheritagegroup.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/spitfire-e...

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2015 15:29:41 Al_Skiff Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, description, events, unit associations, person associations and place associations
Sources

https://deffordairfieldheritagegroup.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/spitfire-e...

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