Robin Morrison: Road Trip
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Built in late 1945, this Spitfire Mark XVI was not commissioned until 1951, when it saw service with the RAF until 1956. Thus this particular plane didn't fly in the war, and has recorded only 638 flying hours. In 1956 New Zealander Sir Keith Park, commander of No 11 Fighter Group (which defended London and the south of England during the Battle of Britain), arranged for it to be given to Auckland War Memorial Museum to remember the important part it had played in the war. Many New Zealanders piloted Spitfires during the war.
Powered by a Packard Merlin 266 engine (unlike other models powered by Rolls Royce engines); its armament consists of two 20mm cannon and two .5 inch machine guns. Drop tanks and bombs were carried under the wings.
During the Battle of Britain there were indeed many New Zealanders contributing in important ways, ‘being New Zealanders’ both on the ground and in the air. By the end of July 1940 New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Fred Jones was noting 710 New Zealand pilots were in the RAF. In this article Gail Romano shares some stories of the New Zealanders who served in the Battle of Britain.