This booklet, the first in a new series by the prolific French aviation historian P. H. Listemann, describes the service history of one of the lesser known marks of Spitfire ; the Mk. XII.
Despite a short production run of only 100 airframes, the Mk. 12 was however a "key player" in the Spitfire’s history, it being the first production mark to be fitted with the R.R. Griffon motor. The Mk. XII would dissipate the spells of Merlin and all subsequent Spitfire marks up to the final Mk. XIV would be powered by Griffons.
The author describes the introduction and service history of the type with the two RAF squadrons which operated it, Nos 41 & 91 (Nigeria) Squadrons . The former between April 1943 and October 1944, whereas 91 Squadron, which became operational on type during June 1943, was to relinquish it earlier in favour of the Mk. XIV during early 1944
Although seen by both Supermarine and the RAF as an interim version, the Spitfire Mk XII when flown by the two Squadrons - managed to establish itself as a worthy opponent to the Luftwaffe as well as to both the Wehrmacht and Reichsbahn. Fw190s, Ju88s, trucks, trains, armoured vehicles, an unfortunate balloon and eventually V1s would all fall prey to the roaming Spitfire XIIs of 41 and 91 Squadrons.
In the first half of the booklet, the author outlines the operations flown by both squadrons, first 41 and then 91, listing missions with victories attained and losses sustained. Numerous photographs show aircraft being flown by both units. The second half of the book is given over to the operational record, listing and totalling all sorties flown by both squadrons.
Then follows a table displaying all the units which flew the Mk XII, during and after it had passed from active service. Of interest is that it was later flown by 595 Squadron to give British Army A/A gunners practice in laying and tracking fast-moving fighters. A map of the UK and a list present all the bases from which the Mk XII flew.
Four high quality colour profiles by Malcolm Laird show specific a/c camouflage of aircraft from both operational squadrons
Six pages list the many claims made by pilots. Aircrew of many nationalities flew the Mk XII and alongside pilots from British and Commonwealth nations this mark of Spitfire was also flown by renowned Frenchmen Jacques Andrieux and Jean Maridor, the Belgian V1 killer Maurice Balasse, as well as (inevitably) a Pole, Jerzy Solak and Dutchman Rijklof van Goens : Which all becomes evident when studying the meticulously compiled claims list, wherein a/c flown and accreditation’s are given.
Three pages list the total of 57 a/c lost on operations and due to accidents. Four pages cover the service lives of known airframes - the final page is the Roll of Honour - naming the 19 young pilots of six nationalities who made the ultimate sacrifice whilst flying Spitfire Mk XIIs
Linguistic Gremlins ? Only a couple and negligible - Were hundreds of V1s actually LAUNCHED over the UK ? The last pilot to be killed in a Mk XII is described as a FORMER Battle of Britain veteran.
The booklet of nearly fifty pages costs appropriately only XII Euros. Before receiving the publication for review - all that this reviewer could have stated about the Spitfire Mk XII was that "it was the Griffon Spit, with a four-bladed prop." - which paucity of knowledge which is now thankfully somewhat dissipated.
This reviewer recommends any Spitfire or RAF enthusiast to buy it at the first opportunity !
48 pages, 17 x 24,5 cm, softcover
En anglais / In English