RNoAF Spitfire Mk.IXC

RNoAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXC

TYPE: One-seated Fighter

4x .303 Browning Mk.II machingeuns
2x 20mm Hispano cannons
1x 250 kg bomb or 2x 125 kg bombs

Wingspan: 36 feet 10 inches
Length: 29 feet 11inches
Height: 9 feet 11 inches
Empty Weight: 5,000 pounds
Max. Weight: 6,418 pounds
Powerplant: Rolls Royce Merlin 63 1325 hp
Crew: 1
Max Speed: 440 mph
Service Ceiling: 36,500 feet
Range: 1,200 to 1,600 mile

SERIAL NUMBERS - times in service and fates
-Coming soon!

Spitfire Mk.IX was built as a result of the difficulties Allied Spitfire Mk.V pilots experienced in meeting the latest German fighters in 1941. When the Luftwaffe began fielding the Focke Wulf FW 190A in the late summer of 1941, the situation became very dire. Production of new planned versions of the spitfire, which would replace the Mk.V, was still some way off. There was a great need for a quick solution, and an attempt was therefore made to mount a new and more powerful engine, the Merlin 61, with a four-bladed Rotol propeller in a Mk.V fuselage. The attempt was successful, and the Mk.IX was born. This again gave the RAF the opportunity for offensive raids into German-occupied Europe. No significant changes were made to the hull beyond what was necessary to fit a heavier engine. In terms of exterior, the nose of the aircraft became somewhat longer, with more exhaust pipes and two symmetrical coolers under the wings. The most important difference from previous models, however, was a new, two-stage supercharger that switched in at about 18,000 feet altitude so that the engine achieved its best performance at 27,000-28,000 feet. Comparisons were made with a captured FW 190A which showed that the performances were now equal

Production began in the summer of 1942, and 18 machines were delivered during June. However, the pace of production increased rapidly, and during September 58 machines were completed. these were machines equipped with a C-wing or so-called “universal wing”, as it was called. This could have various combinations of weapon systems, but the usual was a 20mm HIspano cannon and two 0.303 cal Browning machine guns in each wing half. This model was therefore often called Mk.IXC, or more often just Mk.IX because all the machines that were built were equipped with C-wing. In the summer of 1944, however, the firepower was increased. then came the E-wing where the machine guns were replaced with more powerful 50 cal machine guns. the cannon was moved to a position just beyond the machine gun. the must machine gears no longer had sufficient penetrating power and had also proved imprecise due to the flexibility of the wings at high G loads.

The engine type also varied, and the Mk.IX was adapted to different applications, depending on which engine the aircraft was equipped with. The largest model produced was the F Mk.IX fighter, first with the Merlin 61 and later the 63 engine. This had the best performance at medium height as mentioned before. in the spring of 1943, L.F.Mk. IX- Low Altitude Fighter or Low Flying, as the Norwegian squadrons called them. This model was equipped with the Merlin 66 and was intended for operations at somewhat lower altitudes. Both models were produced in parallel. The L.F.Mk.IX was unofficially called the Mk.IXB and was produced in greater numbers than any other Mk.IX variant. more than 4,000 such aircraft were built. Production of the F.Mk.IX was discontinued in the autumn of 1943. In the spring of 1944, the H.F.Mk.IX - high altitude fighter/high flying - also came. with the merlin 70 which was best suited to high altitudes, 27,000-30,000 feet’

Already at the end of September 1942, 331 and 332 squadrons were due to receive new Mk.IXs. The first arrived at North Weald on 26 September 1942, while the squadrons were still at Manston after the Dieppe raid. when the Norwegians returned on 9 October, 18 new F.Mk.IXs were ready for 331 Squadron, which became operational again on 14 October. eventually more machines arrived, and on 8 November 1942, 332 Squadron was also ready for action with new aircraft.

North Weald was centrally located in relation to voyages to France, the Benelux countries and the English Channel, and it was a busy day for the crews, both in the air and on the ground. The various surgical categories were given their own names, and some of the most common were;

Circus - combined fighter and bomber operations with large fighter forces and few bombers. the aim was to draw up German fighters and do material damage
Ramrod - Fighter escort for larger forces with bombers. The primary task is to destroy the target, not fight with German fighters
Rhubarb - Day fighter/fighter-bomber operations against low-flying fighters and ground targets to disrupt and annoy German forces
Rodeo - Offensive fighter sorties over enemy territory without bombers
Ranger - Offensive fighter jets deep over enemy territory to destroy enemy aircraft and transport units

In addition, North Weald was part of the air defense around London. The Norwegian units were constantly engaged in dogfights with German aircraft. the scoring charts increased, but unfortunately so did the losses. When 1943 was to be summed up, 331 Squadron was top in terms of the number of German aircraft shot down in a list with 69 other squadrons in southern England, and 332 Squadron was close behind in 6th place

In connection with the preparations for the invasion of the continent on 6 June 1944, the two Norwegian squadrons were organizationally placed under 2 Tactical Air Force in the autumn of 1943. This led to 331, 332 and British 66 squadrons operating together under Norwegian command from North Weald as No 132 (N) Airfield from 1 November 1943. This department now became an independent and fully mobile unit with all service elements necessary to keep the three squadrons operational. Operationally, however, the units were still subordinate to RAF Fighter Command’s 11 Group until the invasion and took part in the usual operations over England and the Continent

In 1944, the need for fighter-bombers increased, and the Spitfire was adapted for this service. This also applied to the aircraft in 331 and 332 squadrons, and bomb training started as early as January 1944. Both squadrons must have at this time been equipped with H.F.Mk.IX The wing commander states that in February/March the H.F.Mk.IX was replaced by the L.F.IX which had better performance below 23,000-24,000 feet. This version was also considered the RAF’s answer to the Luftwaffe’s new long-nosed FW190D. However, as mentioned, the H.F model must have been produced only from the spring of 1944, so this may have been a confusion with the F.Mk.IX. The first sortie as fighter-bombers was on 25 April 1944, a month after the squadrons had been transferred to Bognor Field Airfield nearer the coast as part of preparations for the invasion

In May 1944, 132 (N) Airfield was changed to 132 (N) Wing at the same time as the British No 127 squadron was added to the division so that it now comprised four squadrons. On 4 June, all the planes got black/white stripes on the fuselage and wings to make it easier to distinguish between allied and enemy planes. D-Day was just around the corner.

The sub-invasion 6 June 1944, the wing still operated from Bognor awaiting available airfields on the Continent. Now 2 TAF had the operational responsibility, and the task was to keep German bombers away from parts of the invasion area. From 21 August, however, Wingen was operational from field airfield B16 at Caen in Normandy. then all the squadrons had exchanged L.F. Mk.IXC with L.F.Mk.IXE during a 14 day period from 24 July. here the C-wing was replaced with an E-wing with 20mm guns and a .50 cal howitzer on each side. Aircraft with this armament became standard in 2 TAF soon after the invasion. in 331 squadron this was called the New Spitfire IX B with two 20mm cannons and two .50 cal M/G’s.

The task from now on was close support for the 1st Canadian Army, which was responsible for the advance along the coast of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Attacks were carried out against artillery positions, trains and motor convoys, coastal traffic, locks and barges, power stations, V-1 and V-2 installations, etc. German aircraft were rare, but it was a very intense period and a type of service that led to significant losses both in personnel and material. As the fighting moved north, the Wing moved to new field airfields;

B33 Campneuseville, between Rouen and Dieppe
B60 Lille-Nord, outside Brussels, Belgium
B79 Woensdrecht near Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands
B85 Schijndel near Hertogenbosch, and finally
B106 Twente near the border between the Netherlands and Germany
1 December 1944 bledessuten Wing a reinforced with Dutch 332 (NE) squadron

21 April 1945, 331 and 332 Squadron made their last sorties from B106 Twente. the following day, the Norwegian squadrons with their service departments were formally transferred from 2.TAF back to RAF 11. Fighter Command. Aircraft and ground equipment were handed over to Belgian 349 Squadron and 485 New Zealand Squadron. the airmen left Twente by train on 25 April. Back at North Weald, each squadron was equipped with 18 newly overhauled L.F.Mk.IXEs. this designation only became common in 1945, even though it was the same type of armament as during the stay on the continent. Some of the aircraft were of a newer type with larger, sharper side rudders and some had truncated wingtips, which was common on L.F machines

The ground crews and Wing management did not get off from Twente until 7 and 8 May. Some of the crew were sent on to the new training camp in Winkleigh in England, the rest to Turnhouse in Scotland for transport to Norway. The planes were flown to Dyce in Scotland, and on 22 May 1945 they were finally able to make their way across the North Sea towards Sola led by two Mosquitos from 333 Squadron and from there on to Gardermoen



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