A pilot relieves another at the controls of Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I serial no., X4381 SD-J, of No. 501 Squadron RAF, at Colerne, Wiltshire. This photo, taken by an official RAF photographer G Woodbine, is dated June 1941.
An interesting detail of this Spitfire is the small underwing roundel that was typical for the X42 to X44 series. The format and size of factory-applied markings varied throughout the Mk. I production, more so than for any other mark of this aircraft. The said X production batch was part of the production subterfuge at the time. They had only been ordered a few months before their production began in mid-July 1940, and interrupted the R batch at R7022. The latter batch were resumed at R7023 in January 1941.
X4381 was lost on 7 July 1941 when its starboard wing broke off in a high-speed dive out of cloud.
G Woodbine visited the squadron on several occasions. Taken on 23 May 1941 is this in-flight photo showing a vic No. 501’s Sptifires. Note that the leading aircraft has a Rotol propeller with blunt spinner, while the other two have the de Havilland units.
[Crown Copyright via IWM]