Monday, 22 May 2017

Armée de l'Air Spitfire Mk.IXc (late), MJ 897 of GR 2/33 "Savoie"


Spitfire Mk.IXc (late), MJ 897 was operated by French tactical reconnaissance unit GR 2/33 "Savoie". GR 2/33 was the only French tactical recce unit to fly the Spitfire. The unit's other escadrille 1/33 was equipped with American machines - the famous writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry was famously KIA on 31 July 1944 in a 1/33 F-5 Lightning...

A Bloch 174 unit during the battle for France, II/33 had escaped to North Africa after the defeat and while the first squadron was due to be re-equipped with B-25 Mitchells and then B-26 Marauders, the second squadron trained on Hurricanes before receiving its first Spitfires in early 1944 for the tactical recce role. MJ 897 featured French roundels, the 'Mouette du Rhin' (Rhine seagull) unit emblem just behind the cockpit, the inscription "Curieux" just aft of the exhausts with two painted eyes just beneath this. This particular machine was shot down by flak on 4 January 1945. The unit recived F-6 Mustangs after this. Within the limits imposed by its Ocean Grey/Dark /Medium Sea Grey camouflage MJ 897 was a very colourful aircraft, with its yellow empennage, wing stripes and wingtips, red spinner and tricolour rudder and roundels. Note the French-language caption above mentions a Sky fuselage band, while the Hussar Productions artwork below has the code outlined in Sky and the rest of the fuselage band over-painted in Medium Sea Grey.

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