Aboukir’s High-Altitude Spitfire

Spitfire Site

With its diesel engines and pressurised cockpit, the German reconnaissance Junkers Ju 86P could fly at up to 46,000 ft well above the normal ...

With its diesel engines and pressurised cockpit, the German reconnaissance Junkers Ju 86P could fly at up to 46,000 ft well above the normal altitude obtainable by RAF Spitfires in the Mediterranean. That was until 103 Maintenance Unit based at Aboukir near Alexandria modified three Spitfires MkVc. The Spitfires were serialled BP985, BR114 and BR234.  The aircraft were stripped of all unnecessary equipment, radio, armour an part of their armament, with specially tuned Merlin engines and locally fabricated extended wing tips. The Spitfires were flown by Test Pilots from 103MU Special Duties Flight at Aboukir.

A tactics was developed whereupon the aircraft operated in pairs. The Spitfire flew as “Striker” aircraft accompanied by either another Spitfire or Hurricane callsigned “Marker” that climbed to a lower altitude, shadowing the enemy aircraft from below  and “marking” it for the “Striker” and the radar as the enemy aircraft was often invisible both visually and to radar at those high altitudes. 

The aircraft were then handed over to No. 123 Squadron with the modifications still intact. Two of the Spitfires were subsequently handed over to No. 451 Squadron RAAF who continued to use them within the Desert Air Force to combat high-flying Luftwaffe aircraft.

The model is 1/32 scale, based on the Hasegawa kit.

Click to enlarge images

2 Comments

By Ian Hunt  |  2014-01-26 at 15:17  |  permalink

My late father -in-law would have been delighted to have seen this Spitfire, as he was with 103 MU at Aboukir and was one of the crew who spent many hours polishing cylinder heads on the modified engines to get the maximum power to enable the pilot to get at the high flying Junkers!

By percy eggbowellman  |  2014-03-30 at 16:39  |  permalink

High altitude Spitfires enjoyed considerable success against these JU86 bombers, it has been claimed by some people that the camera gun films show that some of targets may have been alien spacecraft and not enemy bombers.The British Government denies this,but in time the truth will will be revealed.

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