Friday, 30 March 2012

Spitfire Mk. XI of the 7th PG (photo-recce group)- Spitfire 944

Spitfire MK XI PA 944 Color

June 12, 1944. PR photo taken from an altitude of around 9,000 metres of Juno beach sectors Mike Red and Mike Green. At right is the village of Graye sur Mer. Photo taken by Lt John S Blyth, 7th Photo Group, who on this day flew a sortie to photograph the Loire bridges from Nantes to Tours. He was flying a 14 Squadron (7 PG) Spitfire MK XI coded PA 841 from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, UK. Montage by Michel Le Querrec on Flickr. Original photo posted via John S Blyth's son on Flickr and reproduced here via their embed code. John S Blyth and the 7th PG feature in a short film downloadable via iTunes entitled Spitfire 944
Colour images via

Gold et Juno beaches, Montage

Lt. John S. Blyth of the 14th Squadron 7th PRG at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, UK 1944.
 Photo embedded via Flickr and posted there by Scott Blyth  - " The photo is of my father Lt. John S Blyth and he flew with the 14th squadron of the 7th PRG based at Mount Farm, UK. According to him the flight suit was an experimental American design. He still has it...I'm not certain if this was his first mission in a Spitfire Mk XI but that wouldn't surprise me. He flew a number of sorties in F-5s (P-38s) before that when he was with the 22nd Squadron 7th PRG.."

American Spitfire Pilot World War II

American Spitfire Pilot Cockpit

The 7th Photographic Group was established at Mount Farm, near Dorchester, Oxfordshire on 7 July 1943, the group being transferred from Peterson AAF Colorado and absorbing the assets of the 13th photo squadron.

The group consisted of the :
13th Photographic Squadron (red rudder)
14th Photographic Squadron (green rudder)
22nd Photographic Squadron (white rudder)
27th Photographic Squadron (blue rudder)

The Spitfire XIs were concentrated in the 14th PS. The Mark XI featured a deep 'chin' housing an enlarged oil tank and a frameless windscreen and those examples delivered to the 7th PG were initially all in RAF PRU blue with black spinner. The 'paint job' was removed in early 1945 for a natural metal finish while the aircraft serial no. was painted on the tail fin in large figures/letters. The Mk XI had a very considerable range of over 1,300 miles and with a drop tank a round trip to Berlin was possible. The 7th PG also flew F-5 (P-38) and P-51s and fulfilled a variety of mission types; photographing bombardment targets and damage inflicted by bombing operations, providing a mapping service for air and ground units and observing and reporting on enemy transportation, installations and positions as well as obtaining data on weather conditions.
Prior to June 1944, the group photographed airfields, cities, industrial establishments, and ports in France, the Low Countries, and Germany. Following the Berlin raid in March 1944, Major Walter L Weitner flew the first Eighth Spitfire photo sortie to Berlin on 6 March and by 11 April the Group had chalked up its 1,000th sortie. The 7th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations during the period, 31 May - 30 June 1944, when its coverage of bridges, marshalling yards, canals, highways, rivers, and other targets contributed much to the success of the Normandy campaign. The group covered missile sites in France during July, and in August carried out photographic mapping missions for ground forces advancing across France.

A  newly delivered Spit XI seen at Mount Farm during 1944

I am indebted to Malcom Laird's "American Spitfire camouflage and markings" Vol II (Ventura Pubs) for assistance with this post !

And another one from Scott Blyth to conclude, Spitfire MK XI MB 948 'Oh Johnnie'

"..This was supposedly assigned to my father Lt John S Blyth, 14th Squadron, 7th Photo Group, Mount Farm, UK. The reality was that just about every pilot in the squadron flew it at one time or another. The invasion stripes suggest that this photo was from June, 1944. Please note the iron cross mission marks..."

Spitfire MK XI MB 948 Oh Johnnie

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