Spitfire R7139 Redux

Dean Black commented on this post.

Comment from a reader…

Can you help?

Pierre,

Here is a photo of Spitfire R7139 that was sponsored by the townspeople of Walsall in the west midlands. They raised so much money that they actually paid for the construction of two Spitfires R7143 that later came to Canada and R7139 that ended up serving with No. 308 and 403 Squadrons. I am still trying to find out any information on the coding of R7139 while flying with No. 403 and who was involved in the flying accident on June 3, 1941.

Can you help?

R7139Photo credit: author’s collection via Walsall Local History Centre

Factory No. 1467
Sponsored as “Walsall II
First Flight – George Pickering February 20, 1941
No. 6 Maintenance Unit February 20, 1941
No. 308 (F) “City of Kraków” Squadron (coded ZW-C) May 14, 1941
No. 403 (F) “City of Calgary” Squadron (RCAF) May 28, 1941 at Baginginton, Warickshire (coded KH-?)
Flying accident – category B June 3,1941
Air Service Training – local? for repairs
No. 57 Operational Training Unit January 15, 1942
Struck-off-charge

Lee W. Walsh

Comments from Dean Black:

Comment No.1

The 403 War Diary for Tuesday, June 3, 1941 provides three crashes one of which may have involved this aircraft:

“Cold and overcast.  Aerodrome still unserviceable.  Pilots went to High Ercall for flying.  One section operational at Tern Hill.  P/O Murray turned a Spitfire over on Landing; P/O Waldon broke the undercarriage of another Spitfire on making a heavy landing at Tern Hill.  P/O Fannon completed an unfortunate day by undershooting, ploughing his way through some trees and landing in a duck pond.  One scramble during the day; interception made with friendly aircraft.”

Comment No. 2

Furthermore, from the book titled “Spitfire”, the following coding is registered against this aircraft (R7139):
R7139 1477 Walsall II
FF 19-2-41 6 MU 25-2 con to FVA M45 HAL con to PRIV 14-3 1416Flt 7-5 140S 31-10 HAL 15-12 con to PRVII Type G 1PRU 22-2-42 543S 30-9
FAAC 17-5-43
HAL 8
OTU 21-8
SOC 6-3-45

Some of the abbreviations are as follow:
con – converted to;
FAAC – Flying Accident Category AC;
FF – first flight;
HAL – Heston Aircraft Limited;
MU – Maintenance Unit;
OTU – operational training unit;
PR – photographic  reconnaissance (followed by aircraft type);
PRU – photographic reconnaissance unit;
SOC – struck off charge;

Since there is no mention of 403 whatsoever, I would argue this aircraft may have never served at 403 Squadron.

Comment No. 3

Finally, a quick look at R7143 similarly shows no evidence the aircraft flew with 403 Squadron.
It is worthwhile noticing that both R7139 and R7143 were both converted to photoreconnaissance aircraft.
At no time during its history was 403 Squadron assigned such a mission; therefore, it would appear information saying one or both of these aircraft served with 403 Squadron is simply wrong.

Comment No.4

Pierre, I have uploaded the entire 403 Squadron Operations Record Book to my website. Visit

http://rcafassociation.ca/magazine/canadas-military-air-power-heritage/403-squadron-orb/

On the 1941 page you will see near the top of the page a list of aircraft serial numbers used by 403 Squadron. R7139 and R7142 are not there, but R7140 is there.

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