Unidentified personnel with Supermarine Spitfire serial no. R7143 of No.13(P) Squadron RCAF, Rockcliffe, Ontario, Canada, 14 January 1944.
Identifying the mark of this Spitfire solely on the basis of this photograph is elusive. R7143 was built at Eastleigh as Mk. I and made its maiden flight 5 on February 20, 1941. It was subsequently converted to a PR Mk. I G in October 1942. Type G was intended for low altitude reconnaissance and as such it retained a full complement of eight .303 inch Brownings.
Further history of this airframe is difficult to establish with certainty. Some sources state that in December 1942 this aircraft was converted to PR Mk. IV with Merlin 45-series engine and a completely new wing clean of armament. Others imply that although the armament has been removed, the aircraft did not receive a Mk. IV wing with extra tankage. It gets even more confusing as records also list R7143 as PR. Mk.VA and PR. Mk. VII before it was shipped to Canada on February 10, 1943.
Photo reconnaissance Spitfires were often rebuilt to fit specific operational requirements leading to a wide variety of local configurations. The aircraft on the photograph appears to feature a Mk. IV type “bowser” wing devoid of armament, but has a fighter-type canopy without side blisters. Perhaps someone could shed more light onto the history of this aircraft. [Library and Archives Canada]