Battle of Briatin Film

 
         
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The survivors

Spitfire Mk.LFVb EP120

Squadrons:

Type: VS349

Engine: Merlin 35

Serial No. /Reg. EP120 (G-LFVB)

Sqdn - code: 501-SD-, 19-QV-H, 402-AE-A

Role in film: Static, Currently: Airworthy

History

EP120 is one of a batch of 905 Spitfire Mk.V’s built at Castle Bromwich as an addition to Contract No. B981687/39 and was delivered to 45 MU at Kinloss on 23rd May 1942, followed by No. 501 Squadron on June 4th 1942. Two Cat.A flying accidents befell the aircraft before long, the first on 16th July and the second on the 19th August, when flying in support of the Dieppe raid. During the third raid, piloted by Wg Cdr Patrick Gibbs, it shot down a DO217 heading towards the British ships. Gibbs was almost shot down by an FW190. Repairs for both incidents are presumed to have been attended to on site and on 9th September EP120 was transferred to No.19 squadron. The following year, on 22nd April 1943, it was assigned to No.402 Squadron, where it was allocated to Sqdn Ldr Jeff Northcote, DSO, DFC and the CO. The aircraft was then modified, with clipped wings and supercharger, blades cropped to boost power. The first kill came whilst escorting Beaufighters against a German convoy off the Dutch coast, when he shot down a Bf109. On 2nd August he led the squadron to Den Helder on another escort sortie shooting down two more Bf109’s and earning a bar to his DFC. His next kill came on 22nd August when he claimed an FW190 while escorting USAAF B-26’s. On 4th September over Lille, during another B-26 escort mission, Northcote claimed another Bf109 and an FW190. Another Bf109 fell to the guns of EP120 on 3rd October and the fighters’ seventh and final victory came en route to Schiphol, Amsterdam, on 3rd November when another Bf109 was despatched. It left the unit to join No.3501 Support Unit on 6th July, but soon returned. Its last recorded accident was on 12th February 1944. When Cat.B damage was sustained and the aircraft was returned to the manufacturers for repair between 21st February and 8th June.

With seven kills, she is the most credited Mk V in existence and maybe the most credited WWII fighter.

No.33 MU at Lyneham took delivery of EP120 and was issued to No.3501 SU once again on 6th July 1944, joining No.53 OUT on 12th October. This was to be its last flying unit. Minor repairs were affected by a Vickers repair crew on 19th to 20th April 1945 and on the 2nd June the aircraft was despatched to No.33 MU, having been allocated to No.4 S of TT at St Athan as 5377M on 13th April.

Following service as an instructional airframe EP120 was assigned as RAF Wimslow's gate guardian 1955, similar at Bircham Newton and Boulmer in 1964 where Snr/Tech J. Ayling cannibalized a Mk16 TD135, which had been with No.346 squadron ATC at Tynemouth, to restore it to first rate condition until 1968. She was a static aircraft in the Battle of Britain film in 1967/68 and to Wattisham until 1989. Stored until it was sold in 1991 and restored by Historic Flying at Audley End for the Fighter Collection at Duxford. Flew September 12th 1995. A new paint scheme was adopted in 2000 for Pearl Harbour film in which she was the lead aircraft with markings AR3185 (RF-M). The aircraft is currently wearing it's familiar colour scheme.

Current location – The Fighter Collection, Duxford, Cambs – airworthy.

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