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Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356
 

Spitfire Mk IXc MK356 was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered to Digby in March 1944 fitted with a Merlin 66 engine, optimised for operations at low level and below 25.000 feet. She was allocated to 443 ‘Hornet’ Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, which became part of 144 Canadian Wing, commanded by Wing Commander J. E. ‘Johnny’ Johnson and was based at various locations on the South Coast of England.

The aircraft flew its first operational mission from Westhampnett on 14 April 1944 as part of a ‘Rodeo’ fighter sweep over occupied France. In the weeks leading up to the Invasion of France, MK356 was involved in various fighter and fighter-bomber missions. On D-Day +1 (7 June 1944) during an invasion beach head cover patrol, her pilot, Flying Officer Gordon Ockenden, a Canadian from Alberta, attacked 4 Bf109s “on the deck”. He chased one of the Messerschmitts, opened fire and obtained strikes. His wingman, Flt Lt Hugh Russell finished it off, so they were both credited with a shared kill.

MK356 was damaged 3 times herself, including 2 belly landings and on 14 June lost a wheel on take-off; the pilot completing the mission prior to making a third belly landing. Normally the aircraft would have been repaired on site but the Squadron moved to a forward operating base in France the next day, leaving MK356 behind to be picked up and stored by a Maintenance Unit. 

After the war MK356 was used as an instructional airframe, as a gate guardian at Hawkinge and Locking, and she also served as a static airframe in the film ‘The Battle of Britain’ before going on display in the museum at St Athan.

In January 1992 a complete refurbishment to flying condition was commenced and in November 1997 the aircraft flew for the first time in 53 years, subsequently moving to her present home with the BBMF. Since 2008 the aircraft has been presented as UF-Q, MJ250 of No 601 (County of London) Squadron the aircraft of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Ibbotson. She is in a silver paint scheme used during late 1944 when the Squadron carried out fighter bomber missions over the Balkans from bases in Southern Italy. Ibbotson, who shot down eleven (confirmed) enemy aircraft and survived being shot down by the enemy three times, was tragically killed in a test flight when his Spitfire crashed close to Assisi, Italy in November 1944.

 

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc
MK356 - UF-Q

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXc - MK356 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom  
 
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