Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb EP122 (G-CISV)
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
- Operator: Comanche Fighters
- Year of Manufacture: 1941
- Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin
- Colour Scheme: 185 Squadron RAF
Originally ordered on 23 August 1941, EP122 was part of the fourth order placed with the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory– comprising 904 aircraft built as Mks Vb and Vc’s. On the 8 June 1942 it was crated for shipment to the North African theater of operations. Shipped to Gibraltar on board the S.S. Guido on 12 June it was assembled at the local M.U. and delivered to Malta the following month and immediately pressed into service in defense of the island from sustained German and Italian air raids. EP122 was flown by 19-year old American volunteer, Sgt Claude Weaver III of Oklahoma City, he shot down two Bf 109s on 22 July, followed by another pair the next day and a half-share in a Ju.88 the day after that! Weaver had shot down a Bf109 on his first operation from Malta on 17 July 1942 and rapidly became the youngest Allied ace of World War II. He was decorated with the DFM, for destroying five enemy fighters and sharing in the destruction of a bomber within a period of one week. His score was up to ten before he was shot down over Sicily, force-landing another Spitfire, BR122, on a beach, and was taken prisoner on 9 September 1942. Weaver escaped, walked 300 miles and returned to operations with No.403 (RCAF) Sqdn in the European Theater in late October 1943 and claimed two more victories before he was shot down and killed whilst on a “Ranger” mission in the Amiens area on 28 January 1944. EP122 became the regular mount of Wg Cdr J.M. Thompson of No. 185 Sqdn and took up his personal code of JM-T. Thompson was leading a flight of eight Spitfires on 14 October, which engaged the second Luftwaffe raid of the day, when he shot down a Ju88. Thompson had pioneered head-on attacks whilst serving with No.111 Sqdn during the Battle of Britain and had been posted to Malta in July 1942 with Sir Keith Park, the new A.O.C. EP122 eventually joined No.1435 Sqdn as L but on 27 March 1943 it crash-landed on the edge of the cliff at Dwejra Bay, Gozo. EP122 was pushed over the cliff-edge into the bay shortly after. Subsequently parts from EP122 were recovered from the sea bed in the mid 1970’s. Restoration began and she now fly’s as an example of one of the most significant aircraft to have been involved in the defense of Malta.
Images: Pursuit Productions