"The CO’s Query"

Spitfire Site

Click on the image to enlarge Supermarine Spitfire MJ730, GZ-? of No. 32 Squadron takes off from the airfield at Kalamaki, Greece. Towards the ...

Click on the image to enlarge

Supermarine Spitfire MJ730, GZ-? of No. 32 Squadron takes off from the airfield at Kalamaki, Greece. Towards the end of the war, this unit was deployed to Greece in support of the liberation of that country, the squadron also took part in the first Greek Civil War from September 1944 to February 1945.

No. 32 Squadron developed a rather unusual tradition of marking one of their aircraft with a question mark rather than the unusual letter. The origins of this peculiarity are as follows. The CO of the unit, Sqn/Ldr George Silvester DFC, picked MJ370 as his personal plane. Being asked by the crew about his preferred choice of individual letter, he jokingly remarked that there was “a bit of a question mark” over this issue, because as Squadron Leader he belonged to neither ‘A’ or ‘B’ Flight.

By the following morning, the ground crew painted a large “?” in place of the individual code letter. Silvester was amused by the gesture and so it remained. MJ730 came to be referred to as “The CO’s Query”, and the tradition continued into the 1950s with the unit’s subsequent commanding officers.

Artwork by Pavel Rampír, coloured pencils on cardboard.
Pavel’s website is available at: http://www.aircraft.flying.to/
[Pavel Rampír, used by permission of the artist]

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