Shot-Down 'Spitfire' (actually Hurricane) Photograph

I stumbled across this on eBay:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-6-X-4...EAAOSwSCZbSmOw

I was wondering where it was taken (North Africa?) but then the oil tank in the leading-edge of the wing took my attention...

...has somebody cut it open to salvage the oil from it?

(I don't suppose I'll infringe anybody's copyright if I attach a copy of the image?)


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Rocketeer

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Or try to set it on fire to save it from enemy hands

Tin Triangle

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Sure I've seen this image before, and seen it mentioned as one of Hans-Joachim Marseille's victims in N Africa?

EDIT: Yes, it's on his Wikipedia page: 213sq Hurricane IIb shot down in Feb 1942, and that's Marseille standing on the wing.
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topspeed

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That is Marseille ok.

Creaking Door

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Thanks for those replies; I didn't dare hope that somebody would know the identity of the individual in the photograph or the serial number of the Hurricane! Does anybody know how the Allied pilot fared during the encounter (the Hurricane looks like it was crash-landed to me)?

I hadn't considered a deliberate attempt to destroy the aircraft, but surely the petrol would be easier to ignite?

The fabric on the fuselage seems to have been removed; to recover the roundel and squadron codes as a trophy (reminiscent of the First World War) or was the fuselage damaged by exploding cannon-shells?

Versuch

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Don, it does not appear in Mediterranean Air War Vol II (Part of an excellent trilogy), the most likely I could find was 10 June where Shores and co show ,Marseille claimed 2 P40s (And or 2 Hurricanes), 213

Sqn having lost 3 a/c, the prime candidate being BN562 "F" crash landing 1 mile south of Gazala at 0830 , and destroyed by strafing Bf109s , Flg Off JA Sowrey safe.....This is still not confirmation !

Regards Mike
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Matt Poole

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The Wikipedia photo caption says:

Hans-Joachim Marseille standing next to one of his aerial victories, a Hurricane Mk IIB of No. 213 Squadron RAF, February 1942

This info is attributed to:
  1. Scutts, Jerry (1994). Bf 109 Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-448-0.
The man sure looks like Hans-Joachim Marseille, and it's a Hurricane. I haven't studied the photo to determine its Mark, though.

Although the Wikipedia/eBay photo does appear to show Marseille, just because the info on Wikipedia is attributed to a noted author/researcher does not mean that it is 100% accurate info. It may not even be one of Marseille's kills, for all I know. To me, it's just a photo of him posing by a downed Hurricane, in North Africa it seems, because the accuracy of key details has not yet been verified.

For certain, eBay sellers are often wrong with their posted info, as is the seller here, having a) called the downed aircraft a Spitfire!; b) tied it to the Battle of Britain!!; and c) listed the year as "45" -- 1945, presumably (despite the small fact that the man in the photo died on 30 Sept '42!!!)

If not his own kill, why would Marseille have posed with someone else's kill? Because, perhaps, it was a good photo op, not necessarily a trophy photo, after a friend asked him if a keepsake snapshop of a supreme pilot could be taken.

I hope the Scutts info is proven to be fully accurate.

Orion

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Re post #9, the Hurricane in the photo has 8 machine guns, so it isn't a MkIIb

Graham Boak

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I think that is an A not an N, and there appears to be an upright stroke behind it which could be a K.. There doesn't seem to be any suitable candidates for Hurricane units in the ME coded Nx. Many Mk.IIBs had the outer guns removed for improved agility, BN562 (if that is what it is) was a Mk.IIB, but the date is a bit worrying for the identification..

I agree that it might not have been a Marseille kill, but he may have thought that it was.
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Thunderbird167

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BN562/F of 213 sqn was shot down on 10th June 1942 and would have been AK:F
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Matt Poole

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There seems to be a painted shield or crest below the canopy. Does this spark any ideas as to the identity of the Hurricane or even the squadron? On the left is a crop from one of the Bundesarchiv images, while on the right is a crop of the photo posted by Creaking Door. It's a wooden prop, and there are the eight guns in the wing. Is it a Mk I? (Admittedly, I haven't done my research on Hurricane marks.)

From a translation of the photo info for one of the images found in the Bundesarchiv link provided by Skeeler (and searching on "Hans-Joachim Marseille"):
[TR]
[TD]Inventory:[/TD]
[TD]Picture 101 I - Propaganda Companies of the Wehrmacht - Army and Air Force[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Signature:[/TD]
[TD]Picture 101I-440-1313-09[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Original title:[/TD]
[TD]The most successful fighter pilot on the African front Knight Cross carrier Lieutenant Marseille who in the meantime made his 50th launch with the enemy machine which he brought down in his 48th Air victory.
31-3-42 [date of publication] -de-gu-schm
PK recording: Kriegsberichter Oppitz[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Archive title:[/TD]
[TD]Nordafrika.- Fighter pilot Hans-Joachim Marseille with a shot down British aircraft Hawker "Hurricane"; KBK Lw 7[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Dating:[/TD]
[TD]February 1942 [the date of the photo][/TD]
[/TR]



However, in "A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945, Volume Two: North African Desert February 1942-March 1943" by Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello, there is a photo of Marseille standing at the tail of his aircraft. There are 48 kill symbols on the rudder. The photo's caption notes the 48 victory bars, also saying that "the most recent pair were claimed on 15 February", but the text for 15 February describes the downing and destruction of two P-40s by Marseille. [Crop of Pg 41 of the book, found in google books on-line.]


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Graham Boak

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Yes, but they actually were P-40s in the 15th. However if you look back a few pages you'll find a photo of a 274 Sq Hurricane in the desert - codes NH. (Oops) 274 Sq had lost two Hurricanes in the preceding days, Z4800 (Mk.II, believed Flak) on the 9th, DG616 reported dived into sea, BD821 ditto when chased by Mc200, Z5381 (Flak?) and one unspecified, also Flak on the 12th. But Marseille was claiming at this time: all were Mk.IIs. Finally on the 13th Z4426 (Flak?) described as a Mk.IIb. I think that these are all candidates - I can't find a 213 Sq loss at this time, possibly the unit wasn't operating.

The aircraft in the photo is unlikely to be a Mk.I - it isn't completely clear in the photo but I think that is the wing root fairing of a Mk.II and the squadron will not have been operating a mixture. The Rotol propeller was fitted to some late Mk.Is. There apparently were a few Mk.IIAs in the desert but these would be in a small minority - the serials are worth checking but as the earliest one above is described as a Mk.IIB I don't feel any incentive to rush.
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Thunderbird167

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Graham,

213 squadron had Mk IIA and IID in the desert.

Chris Shores book
A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940-1945: Volume 2: North African ...on Page 138 states

BN562 was coded "F" and shot down on 10th June 1942 at 8:30. Crash Landed 1m S of Gazala with Fg Off J A Sowery safe

Graham Boak

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I merely meant that they weren't operating at that particular time, neither making claims nor having losses in the period I was looking at. Perhaps they were operating but having a quiet period. I presume that you mean IIA and IIB (or even IIC?). The dates involve rule out this being BN562.

TonyT

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Cutting open the tank may have been used to soak rags in for a signal fire, it would produce a lot of smoke.?
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Thunderbird167

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I merely meant that they weren't operating at that particular time, neither making claims nor having losses in the period I was looking at. Perhaps they were operating but having a quiet period. I presume that you mean IIA and IIB (or even IIC?). The dates involve rule out this being BN562.


Graham,

Correct it should be IIB.

I have now downloaded the 213 squadron ORB.

No mention of any combat or losses in February 1942 and they were based near Cairo.

If it is 213 squadron it must be later in 1942 and the picture must have the wrong date

Creaking Door

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Would a Hurricane IIB have twelve 303 Brownings? The other photographs on the Bundesarchiv link show more of the wings and what appear to be two additional guns; I can't ever remember seeing a twelve-gun Hurricane in a period photograph before.

Thank you to everybody who has contributed so far, and who have gone to such efforts to satisfy my idle curiosity; the air war over the North African campaign is one area of aviation where I am almost clueless (but the desert war does always seem to produce the most interesting photographs; maybe it's the light)!

Creaking Door

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Cutting open the tank may have been used to soak rags in for a signal fire.....

That's certainly a possibility. I'm still tempted to think that somebody has 'salvaged' the oil; I don't know what it is about the desert war, probably the long tortuous supply-lines, but there always seems (with land vehicles anyway), a far greater tendency to salvage and re-use as much enemy kit as possible.

The access panels for the guns have also been opened (and the 'panels' to either side of them too); I wonder why? Does anybody think that the guns have been removed (or just the ammunition)?
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Matt Poole

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I have a few observations to point out, knowing that what I see in the photos is speculative.

First, I swear that the remnants of the letter "N" are seen on the Hurricane fuselage in the photo posted by Creaking Door, as was first suggested in Post #8. I have compared that photo side-by-side with the same image, upon which I sort of added a thin red "N", using the remnants of the letter as a guide and then guessing a bit. Of course, at the oblique angle at which the photo was taken, there would have been a little bit of curvature in the letter along the side of the fuselage, but my main point is that I see an "N", not the "A" that Graham Boak feels he sees.

To me, clearly the remnant left-side downstroke of the letter is vertical and essentially perpendicular to the ground, and then there is a diagonal line which connects the top of the letter's left-side vertical line with the bottom of the right-side vertical line (which is missing). If it were the letter "A", there would be symmetry where the two lines meet at the centerpoint; the left-side line would not be perpendicular to the ground. But it is, to my four eyes.

And then maybe there is just a slight remnant of the top of the right-hand letter that comprised the squadron code. If so, it is also a vertical line perpendicular to the bottom, or at least starting as a vertical line at the top of this letter. If so, the space between the "N" and this downstroke is small.

So what could this second letter be? To me, there is no intersecting stroke at the top of the remnant piece of this letter, but the image is not great. The logical choices to consider: "H", "I", "K", "L", and "U". [1 MARCH EDIT: What was I thinking, stating what I did in the second sentence? I was wrong. Because there's so little visible, that second letter could also potentially be a "B", "D", "E", "F", "M", "N", "P", or "R". Hopefully, eventually, I'll comment further in a new post, after studying additional squadron possibilities paired with an "N" first fuselage squadron code.]

Mr. Clark and Graham have previously mentioned "H" and "K" [EDIT: In Post #8 Mr. Clark mentioned "AK" only in reference to 213 Sqn's code, but he said he can't see enough in the photo to be sure of a 213 Sqn link. In Post #12 Graham mentioned discerning an "A" but not "N" followed by what could be "K". In Post #15 he referred to the "NH" in a Hurricane photo in the Shores/Massimello book, with a caption ID'ing the aircraft as a 274 Sqn machine.], so they, too, see evidence that could be a portion of the second letter. [EDIT: Of the two, only Graham sees evidence of a second letter.]

Let's look at each of these, paired with the letter "N", as found in an on-line list of squadron codes at


"NH":
119 Sqn: IRRELEVANT. In Coastal Command, equipped with Catalinas.
38 Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Equipped with Wellingtons in the Middle East.
274 Sqn: A POSSIBILITY. 274 has been mentioned already. Googling on "274 Squadron" and RAF, one finds a fair bit of conflicting info. Shores/Massimello on pg 30 of their Vol. 2 of A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945 only say that 274's code was "YK". No, it changed. It was also "JJ" and "NH", although one source says that "NH" was allocated to 274 Sqn, but there is no evidence of it being carried. Not true, if a photo on pg 33 of the Shores/Massimello book is accurate. This photo was already brought to our attention by Graham in Post #15.

For comparison, I rotated and cropped this photo, seen on the right with the two versions of the original photo.

Then there's the book Desert Flyer, the log and journal of F/O William Marsh, found here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=mD...M7ByYQ6AEILDAA

The cover of the book shows artwork depicting a Hurricane in flight, wearing the "NH" squadron letter code. The book synopsis states that Marsh, who died in 1944, "joined 274 Squadron and flew Hurricane fighter/bombers against Rommels forces in the North African desert." It also states that "Over 230 previously unpublished photographs, taken by Bill Marsh, support the text."

DOES ANYONE OWN A COPY OF THIS OUT-OF-PRINT BOOK? If so, can you inform us whether or not any photos show a 274 Sqn Hurricane with the "NH" code? Because Hans-Joachim Marseille died on 30 Sept 1942, photos predating his death are most relevant.

"NI":
There is only one "NI" choice: 451 Sqn RAAF. 451 was flying Hurricanes in N. Africa at the time, so it has to be considered as a possibility.

"NK" (suggested as a possibility by Mr. Clark and Graham [EDIT: No, not Mr. Clark. Graham does refer to the "NH" of a Hurricane ID'ed as a 274 Sqn aircraft in the Shores/Massimello book.]):
118 Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Equipped with Spitfires, and not operating in N. Africa.
163 Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Equipped with Hudsons, and not reformed (after WWI) until 10 July 1942, in Egypt.
31 Gen. Reconnaissance School: IRRELEVANT.

"NL":
316 (Polish) Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Flying Spitfires, based in the UK
341 (French) Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Flying Spitfires, not even formed until 15 January 1943.

"NU":
240 Operational Conversion Unit. IRRELEVANT. Not in existence during the war, and the unit was never equipped with Hurricanes.
242 Operational Conversion Unit. IRRELEVANT. Not in existence during the war, and the unit was never equipped with Hurricanes.
625 Sqn: IRRELEVANT. Flying Lancasters, this unit was not formed until 1 October 1943.

To me, then, and if I am correct in analyzing the remnants of the two-letter squadron code, there are only two possibilities: "NH" and "NI".

I have not pored over the Shores/Massimello book in the hope of narrowing down a list of possibilities for the Hurricane in Creaking Door's photo, though Graham has offered choices.

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[ATTACH=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","title":"DesertFlyer,bookinfo,274Sqn.jpg","data-attachmentid":3854020}[/ATTACH]

Versuch

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Ok how about...274Sqn..from HOTMAW ,Shores,Massimello,Guest,Olynk & Bock

8/2/42 Hurricane II Z4800 Flt Sgt Hargraves.POW

12/2/42 Hurricane Sgt C R Parbury safe

27/2/42 Hurricane II BD820 Sgt Harrington

These losses match a Marseille claim for a P40 or Hurricane......

Cheers Mike