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This photo, originating from HMSO publications of the time, had been entitled “Spitfires can take it. Riddled fighter makes safe landing in Italy”. It is believed to be taken in 1944 and the aircraft is a Spitfire Mk. V, but regrettably the name of the pilot had not been recorded. Details of the actual event are also unknown.
While the original caption seems to suggest some lucky escape in the air, a closer look at the photo seems to indicate a quite different event. The depicted Spitfire had been involved in the emergency wheels-up landing. This is indicated by the shattered propeller blades and the damage to the underside of the nose and wing root. Damage to all three blades suggests that the engine was running at the time of touch-down.
The wooden Jablo propeller was another useful invention which was a fruit of operational experience. Introduced on Spitfire Mk. V, and adopted universally for Mk. IX ans subsequent variants, it presented a big advantage over metal propellers in case of a forced landing. The wooden blades shattered on first contact with the ground, thereby reducing forces imposed on the propeller shaft and the engine. This significantly reduced the risk for engine damage which was inherent with earlier all-metal propellers.
[Crown Copyright, via State Library of Victoria]