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Aces of Aviation

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IA of Alan C. Deere

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IA of Alan C. Deere

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IA, piloted by Flight Lieutenant Alan C. Deere from the RAF Hornchurch 54th Squadron, in May 1940.

Wingspan: 11.22 meters.

Length: 9.11 meters.

Height: 2.69 meters.

Engine[s]: Rolls-Royce Merlin III of 1030 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 582 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 9720 meters.

Range: 636 kilometers.

Armament: Eight Browning M1919 0.303-inch machine guns.

Al Deere, born in New Zealand the 12th December 1917, arrived to England in 1937 to join the Royal Air Force and two years later, at the beginning of the Second World War, he flew on the Supermarine Spitfire with the 54th Squadron. Within three years he became a Flight Commander, holding a record of 22 aircraft downed that placed him as the 24th pilot on the score card of the RAF. Not less than seventeen enemy aircraft had been destroyed before the end of the Battle of Britain by this hardened pilot who had survived to seven accidents.

The aircraft in which he performed his first sortie over France, in May 1940, was marked with the numeral P9398 and the code KL-B, and had been baptized as "Kiwi". The 23rd May he took part in a spectacular air rescue when, along with another Spitfire pilot, Pilot Officer J. L. Allen, he stood guard while a Miles Magister training aircraft, piloted by Flight Lieutenant J. Leathart, landed in Calais to pick up the Commanding Officer of the 74th Squadron, Squadron Leader F. L. White, who had performed a forced landing. During the rescue operation a formation of Messerschmitt Bf 109 appeared, and during the fierce combat that ensued Deere shot down two of them.

The 28th May, while chasing a solitary Dornier Do 17, his aircraft was hit by the rear machine gun and Deere was forced to land in a Belgian beach. He found his way to Dunkirk, from where he was evacuated to England, where he would soon rejoin his squadron. Later he continued enjoying success in his combats, albeit in a certain occasion he was lucky enough to reach his base after having been intercepted by Messerschmitt Bf 109 over the English Channel. In another occasion he crashed when a bomb exploded under his aircraft while taking off, and in a later occasion he suffered a collision while in flight.

Al Deere spent several months as ground controller in Catterick, Yorkshire, after the Battle of Britain and before being appointed Flight Commander of the 602nd Squadron. In 1943, he was Flight Commander of the Kenley Fighter Wing and after the D Day he moved to France to command the Free French Fighter Wing. After the war he commanded the RAF Duxford and in 1965 he became Air Commodore with command in the East Anglian Sector, in the combat command post of the RAF.