From Reconnaissance to Evasion – The 1944 Submarine Spitfire’s Dance with Germany’s Me 262 Warbirds

The stage is Europe, 1944. World War II is ravaging the continent as the Nazi party continues to advance war-time technologies. Britain needs a warbird so powerful that it can meet two key requirements; 1: Take photographs behind enemy lines acting as reconnaissance, and 2: Be fast enough to outrun Germany’s dreaded Air Force, The Luftwaffe.

The aviation manufacturer Vickers begins conceptualizing the concept of a high-altitude reconnaissance warbird in 1941. Although initial trials did not go so well, by 1944 the Submarine Spitfire PR XI is perfectly engineered and deployed into active service. The role of this aircraft was to fly high and behind enemy lines to photograph military bases, troops, and movement so the Allied Forces had an advantage.

If you wish to own this truly magnificent warbird, call us at [phone] to learn more about the process and how she’s holding up. To learn more about her specs, visit our 1944 Vickers Submarine Spitfire page or reach out to us on our Contact Page.

Continue reading to learn more about this incredible warbird that is a part of history.

Over 40 Successful Operational Missions

Spitfire PL965 has been flown by some truly talented warbird pilots throughout her service. With over 40 successful missions, she has had to react to anti-aircraft missiles, being located, and even being engaged by Germany’s new jet-powered warbird, the Me 262.

Two specific encounters were too close for comfort. As shared by PL965’s very own pilots Flt. Lt. Gordon Bellerby DFC and Flt. Lt. J. M. Tommy Thompson RCAF, the Me 262 was not to be trifled with…let alone without any guns!

The primary purpose of the Spitfire PL965 was reconnaissance. So much so that the warbirds were not even equipped with weaponry.

Flt. Lt. J. M. Tommy Thompson’s Amazing Confidence

“At 30,000 feet, I was returning from Breman area to Melsbroek, Belgium and off my starboard wing saw two Me 262s headed towards me. We were briefed on their performance, speed etc and were told we could not outrun them. Our best method was to attack! With my heart in my mouth I turned into them for the semblance of an attack! They broke and dived. I had the advantage and got within 300-400 feet on one’s tail for a minute. I broke off when I saw good cloud cover near 20,000 feet. I know I could have shot him down if I had guns!”

Lt. Gordon Bellerby’s Hair-Raising Encounter

“It was a mapping sortie North of Hanover. Four runs at 26,000 feet. No recollection of the target, but I certainly recall the Fw 190 and the four (4) Me 262’s! The 190 came up just as I finished my runs. I went “through the gate” and climbed away to 30,000 feet and left the area rapidly. The 262’s scared the hell out of me – after all, four are a bit much! But somehow they missed seeing me. They crossed beneath my tail at right angles and I kept flying on going flat out for home.”

The Current Status of the 1944 Submarine Spitfire PR XI

She is airshow quality and fully operational. PL965’s engine has even been fully replaced with its wartime specs, making it only 1 of 2 Spitfires in the world flying with its original wartime engine.

If you wish to own a truly remarkable piece of history, call us at [phone] to speak with one of our aviation experts. The Vickers 1944 Submarine Spitfire is a triumphant warbird that helped shape the course of history.

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