Intriguing Spitfire Image - But Where Taken?

Profile picture for user Mark12

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This image was sold on eBay in recent times and I was the under bidder.

A technician is reaching in to the cockpit to demonstrate something to the onlooking gentlemen.

I am looking for opinion on the nationality of the onlookers by virtue of their dress, attire and demeanour. Notwithstanding the chap smoking a cigar is scratching himself rather than reaching for a firearm.

There is a reason for blacking out the image. It could influence the response. I will reveal it in due course.

Mark

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/Mystery%20image%20s-l1600%201a_zpsexovd3kj.jpg

Original post
Profile picture for user Whitley_Project

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Just a wild guess but they look American....

Profile picture for user FMK.6JOHN

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They certainly 'look' American to me but they distinctly lack any military attire, surely if it was an official thing then the people involved would display a military air about them.

Regards

John

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Scottish? Chap on the right reminds me a bit of John Sword of S.M.T/ Midland & Scottish Air Ferries.

Profile picture for user adrian_gray

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I'd vote American too. The chap with hat band next to the black blobs looks a bit like Weejee (I don't think it is, mind).

Adrian

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They look American to me ,maybe the newspaper /press early part of the war.Be interested to see what it is :)

Profile picture for user Firebird

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American is too obvious.

Going out on a limb here...........

Are they German, taken pre-war (37 or 38) at Supermarine works...........???

Profile picture for user Bob

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Italian...

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The man in the middle without hat, possibly Sir James Bird?... Supermarine general manger etc, as for the rest of em no idea!

Profile picture for user Matt Poole

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A fine stab at the identity, chumpy. Here's Sir James Bird on the right. The gentleman in the middle reminds me more of a young Richard Milhouse Nixon -- but it's not him!

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Profile picture for user Mark12

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Gentlemen. Many thanks for your inputs. You confirm in the main my own thoughts that these folk are American.

Here is the full image that reveals that the Spitfire is a high altitude Mk VII, pressurised cabin and no cockpit door etc.

Note the two rectangular strengthening doubler patches crudely painted on the fuselage skin and the technician 'adjusting' something in the cockpit mounted adjacent to the external patch.

Note also the cast mirror bracket but no mirror.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/Supermarine%20image%20s-l1600%201_zpsxciulc0v.jpg

Mk VII EN474 was dispatched to US in 1944 for evaluation and was later assigned to museum storage and is currently on display at the Smithsonian in Washington.

Most period images taken during 1944-46 shows the mirror bracket but no mirror fitted.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/7-EN474%20EL-2000-00245%2002_zpssjbmnkxu.jpg

Here a shot of EN474 in storage showing the starboard cockpit side and what was mounted that required the doublers.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/7-EN474%20Neg%2021%20John%20Batchelor%20collection%20%20002_zpste0ijkq6.jpg

Here a shot taken during the restoration showing the external doublers.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/7-EN474%20John%20Batchelor%20collection%20%20033_zpsjojmvhje.jpg

The images on eBay was billed as a Supermarine source and with this added detail can now be identified beyond reasonable as EN474 in the US in c.1945.

Chumpy's suggestion that the central character is Sir James Bird, who headed up Supermarine, fits well for why the image is Supermarine source.

The only shot I have of Sir James Bird is this crop from a post WWII group image. He looks tired in the shot and died in August 1946 aged 63.

Face recognition software would confirm but it looks like Chumpy is correct.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/Sir%20James%20Bird%20002_zps7g3x6guz.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%206/Supermarine%20image%20s-l1600%201xx_zpscc2ajajl.jpg

Mark

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Note also the cast mirror bracket but no mirror.

The mirror is what the 'shifty' looking chap on the right is shoving under his tank top...

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I would say 100% that's not Bird in that photo.

That's clearly a much younger man, than Bird would have been given he died only a few years later aged 63, plus there are too many dissimilar facial features.

Profile picture for user Mark12

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Not Bird? Who can confirm with face recognition software?

Mark?

Profile picture for user Matt Poole

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No facial recognition software analysis upon which to base my opinion, but I'd bet good money (that's an expression...not legally binding!) Bird can be ruled out. It's a younger man, and the chins are very different.

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Could it be Jeffrey Quill...?

Profile picture for user Duggy

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Actually she was fitted with a mirror.
Supermarine Spitfire HF.Mk.VII on the ground; February 24, 1944.
http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Duggy009-1/Supermarine%20Spitfire%20HF.Mk.VII%20on%20the%20ground%20February%2024%201944..jpg
And in flight during a wartime test flight over Ohio.
http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii120/Duggy009/Duggy009-1/Supermarine%20Spitfire%20HF.Mk.VII%20in%20flight%20during%20a%20wartime%20test%20flight%20over%20Ohio.jpg
Regards Duggy

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The little Perspex "window" in the port side of the windscreen can be seen as on EN474 as well.

Profile picture for user Flying_Pencil

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Mark, the man to lower left holding on to fuselage looks like Sir James Bird.

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Bob you’ve got it right, that chap on the right does look like he has been caught concealing something around his person.:)