AB910 - Service History
Built by Supermarine at the Castle Bromwich factory, Birmingham. Construction No. CBAF1061.
222 Squadron, a WWII fighter Unit, RAF North Weald.
130 Squadron, flew 12 missions, damaged in combat,
133 Squadron, flew 29 missions, including four aerial battles in the Dieppe Raid, RAF Biggin Hill.
242 Squadron, flew defensive coastal patrols, Turnhouse, Scotland.
416 Squadron (RCAF), RAF Tangmere.
402 Squadron (RCAF), flew cover patrols over the Normandy beachheads on D-Day, RAF Digby.
No. 53 Operational Training Unit, RAF Hibaldstow.
527 Squadron, Radar Calibration Unit, RAF Digby.
1946 – 1955
Privately owned and flown as an air racer by Group Captain Allan Wheeler under registration G-AISU.
1955 – 1965
Owned and displayed by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd.
1965 - Present Day
Owned and operated by the RAF’s
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The Dieppe Raid
19th August 1942
133 (Eagle Squadron)
On the 19th August 1942, AB910 flew in one of the largest air battles of any war in history. Through fierce fighting, it flew four sorties over the English Channel in support of Operation Jubilee, an Allied-attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe.
This monumental struggle saw the RAF lose 62 spitfires – more than in any other single day throughout WWII. AB910, however, survived unscathed and emerged victorious.
At just 20 years old, Flying Officer Eric Doorly was AB910’s regular pilot and flew three of AB910’s four sorties in support of Operation Jubilee. AB910’s third patrol that day
was piloted by Flight Sergeant ‘Dixie’ Alexander. It was Alexander who claimed a German Dornier Do 217, sending it crashing into a field south of Dieppe – AB910’s
sole kill of the war.
6th June 1944
Royal Canadian Air Force
AB910 made a significant contribution to D-Day, the long-awaited Allied invasion of occupied Europe on 6th June 1944.
As the largest naval, air and land operation in history, D-Day was a remarkable moment in military history.
Piloted by Flying Officer George Lawson, and later by Pilot Officer H C Nicholson, AB910 flew beachhead cover patrols during the day and night on D-Day itself and again over the following days. Reinforcing the beachhead is critical in any military operation and D-Day was no exception. AB910 played a remarkable role in an operation that marked the start of the end of the war.
AB910 continued to fly beachhead, shipping and convoy patrols with 402 Squadron, in support of the invasion forces until 13th July 1944. On this day, AB910’s exceptional
operational career came to a close.
An Unexpected Trip
14th February 1945
One cold and overcast February morning, the Duty Controller at RAF Hibaldstow instructed that ‘rough weather’ procedures should be observed by all, on account
of strong winds. As such, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air force (WAAF), Margaret Ida Horton, assisted the pilot of AB910, Flight Lieutenant Neil Cox DFC, by
sitting on the plane’s tail while he taxied to take-off position. This was common practice in order to prevent the aircraft ground looping in the gusty conditions.
The pilot dutifully carried out all necessary checks and – having forgotten Margaret was sitting on the tail entirely – started down the runway and promptly took off. It was
immediately clear to the pilot that AB910 was not handling in its usual manner and upon investigating the cause, he quickly realised that poor Margaret was still wrapped
around the aircraft’s tail, clinging desperately to its elevator. Fortunately, he was able to turn into the circuit and land AB910 – and his unexpected passenger – safely, much to the relief of onlookers.
Following the end of WWII, AB910 was ‘demobbed’ and purchased by Group Captain Allan Wheeler who flew the aircraft as an air racer under registration G-AISU. After a
heavy landing in the King’s Cup Air Race in 1953, it was returned to British aircraft engineers, Vickers-Armstrong for refurbishment.
Vickers-Armstrong eventually took ownership of AB910 and the aircraft was displayed by the renowned Spitfire pilot Jeffrey Quill who famously test-flew every mark of Spitfire,
thereby contributing to the development of the model.
The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) eventually acquired AB910 in 1965. After undergoing a ‘major plus’ maintenance programme with the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford (2012 – 2015) it was painted in the colour scheme of a 64 Squadron Spitfire as it would have looked on D-Day with full invasion stripes before being returned to the BBMF.
AB910 was the star of the 2015 display season and continues to delight aviation enthusiasts to this day.