by: Mecenas [ ]
Spitfire IX was in use of the RAF squadrons from the summer of 1942 to the end of World War 2. Although new variants were developed, Mk.IX was still being modified and improved to keep up to the standards of the then warfare. What is not difficult to guess the improved Mk.IX's were also in use in Polish squadrons over the Western Europe and Italy.
Number 15 of the Polish Wings series continues the story from thirteenth issue of the series and describes Spitfire Mk.IX's in hands of Polish pilots in the years from 1944 up to 1946, when the Polish Air Force in Great Britain were disbanded.
In November 1943 structure of the 1st Wing has changed and lasted to the end of whole Wing. From now on it consisted of 302, 308 and 317 Squadrons. Another Polish squadron which used different variants of Spitfire Mk.IX was the 318 Squadron which entered combat in spring of 1944 in Italy. This squadron was created as a fighter-reconnaissance unit but in fact its pilots usually flew on the tactical reconnaissance missions. Last Polish squadron flying on Mk.IX was the famous 303 Sqn. It was the only unit of the Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) which was still using Mk.V's. In mid-July 1944 squadron has once again rearmed to Mk.IX version.
Presentation of Spitfire Mk.IX used in these five units in two last years of war is the core of this publication. Keeping up very high standard and quality of issue No.13, author presents particular machines. Publication is actually an album composed of 192 carefully chosen historical photographs and colour profiles, of great quality and printed in large size. Under each picture author provides detailed and comprehensive description and comment. Archive photos are supplemented by colour drawings of described machines, mostly as a side profiles but sometimes presenting particular planes in all four-sides views. Each chapter of book focuses on different unit. Except “typical” squadrons author presents also planes used by the commanders of 131 Airfield/Wing (successor of 1st Polish Wing after transformations and regroups), a “private” Spitfire coded MD-B and few machines used by Poles in other RAF squadrons (including two well known planes of 601 Sqn UF-G and UF-Q). Content is fulfilled by two tables of victories scored on Mk.IX and losses suffered on this type in the period of 1944-1946. Last page presents airworthy machine MH434 which has some Polish connections and two Poles who flew in TR.IX in the XXI century (one after almost 60 years long break of not sitting in the Spitfire cockpit, second one sitting there for the first time in his life).
Publication is written in English but publisher provides an insert with all texts and descriptions translated into Polish.
Just to sum up I am very delighted having this publication in the bookcase with valuable references. Together with issue 13 of Polish Wings it's one of essential books describing and presenting one of the most popular British fighter plane in the hands of Polish pilots. It is a great reference for the modellers who want to build a historically accurate model of this mainstream fighter with white-red checkers on the engine cowling.
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