Click to enlarge image
Spitfire Mk. Vb BM316 photographed with 500-pound (227-kilogram) bomb mounted on the centre fuselage rack.
The markings of this aircraft are somewhat puzzling. The squadron code RA belonged to No. 10 (Belgium) Squadron, but BM316 never served with that unit, an the individual letter (A?) barely discernible and partially obscured by the wing was painted in different colour, probably yellow.
BM316 had a long operational history and interestingly, underwent three engine changes. Produced at CBAF, it was delivered to the RAF on 3 March 1942 powered by a 1470-hp Rolls Royce Merlin 45.
Delivered to RAF Kenley, its first short operational assignment was with No. 485 Squadron RNZAF, which received BM316 on 2 June 1942. On 8 July the aircraft was transferred to No. 611 Squadron. Only a month later, on 2 August, No. 111 Squadron became its new owner, retaining the aircraft until September 1942.
Other units spending their operational tours at Kenley took over the aircraft in 1943. First, on 3 January, No. 421 Squadron RCAF, then No. 416 Squadron at 23 May. It is rather likely that at this stage the airframe was rather used so the aircraft was selected for a rebuild at Heston Aircraft Limited. There, in November 1943, it received a new Merlin 46 engine of 1415 hp with high-altitude carburetor.
USAAF became the next owner of BM316 in 1944. At the time the engine was replaced once again with American-built Packard Merlin 45M of 1585 hp, but the aircraft would not see further first line duty. Assigned to 17 Flying Training Squadron. On 12 October 1944, BM316 belly-landed South-West of Bourne Lincs due to the engine cut. It was struck off charge in October 1945. [Crown Copyright]