The Aircraft

Supermarine Seafire LF III (G-BUAR)

• Aircraft Type: Supermarine Seafire LF III
• Operator: Air Leasing Ltd
• Year of Manufacture: 1944
• Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin XLV
• Colour Scheme: 880 Sqdn, FAA HMS Implacable flown by Cmdr. ‘Mike’ Crosley.

Seafire MK III PP972 was one of 250 Type 358 Seafire L.F.III aircraft ordered from Westland Aircraft in July 1943. It left the works during September 1944.

The aircraft was transferred to 809 Squadron Fleet Air Arm in November 1944 serving on HMS Stalker and then on HMS Attacker. PP972 then re-joined HMS Stalker in March 1945.

HMS Stalker, with PP972 on board, left Gibraltar on the 7th of March 1945 for Trincomalee, Ceylon, with the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, arriving on the 20th of March. This then became part of the East Indies Fleet consisting of six CVE’s sent to re-occupy Singapore.

During its time in Ceylon, operating from both HMS Stalker and from RNAS Trincomalee, PP972 was involved in numerous operations as part of Operation Tiderace, the British plan to retake Singapore.

Operation “Dracula”; providing air cover to support landings in Rangoon in May 1945, operation “Bishop”; a series of attacks on Japanese coastal bases, operation “Balsam”; offensive sweeps of Japanese airbases June 1945, operation “Collie”; providing air cover over the Malayan coast July 1945, operation “Zipper”; providing air cover for landings in Southern Malaya August 1945 and operation “Jurist”; providing air cover during landings at Port Swettenham on the 9th of September, and entering Singapore harbour on the 10th of September to support the Japanese surrender of Singapore back to British Colonial rule. During this significant period PP972 wore the codes “D-6M”.

PP972 then sailed aboard HMS Stalker back to the UK arriving in October 1945 and then returned to RNAS Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland.

Following the disbandment of 809 Sqdn in January 1946 it was taken by 767 Sqdn in May, initially at Easthaven, and eventually at Lossiemouth and Milltown where it received the Milltown code of 120/MV.

The aircraft was then transferred to the French Aeronavale with code No. 12F2 then later to 1F9 when it was operated from the carrier “Arromanches” in Indo China. It was retired for instructional purposes in 1949.

After it was retired from technical training it was placed in storage at Hyéres and eventually ended up in a wired off compound at Base Aeronavale 83 Gavres, near Loirent.

It was privately purchased in 1970 and moved to the aerodrome at Vannes-Meucon. There the aircraft was restored to static condition and exhibited at the Resistance Museum at St Marcel from 1982. The aircraft was acquired by a new owner in 1987 and moved back to the UK.

Images: Daisy Burge