With Allied aircraft performing regular sorties over occupied Europe it was inevitable that some of these aircraft would fall into the hands of the German Luftwaffe. These could then be tested and
compared to current Luftwaffe types. This is the story of one of those aircraft, Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB (EN830).
One of the many thousands of Sptifires to roll of the production line at Castle Bromwich was a Mk VB,
registration EN830 which was fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine giving the aircraft a top speed of 375 mph and armament of two 20mm Hispano Cannons and four 0.303-in machine-guns.
Making its first flight on the 30th April 1942 the aircraft was then handed over the following month to No. 37 Maintenance Unit based at RAF Burtonwood on the 1st May.
EN830 would enter operational service a month later on the 8th June 1942 with No. 131 Squadron who at the time were based at RAF Llanbedr. Just over two months into its
service on the 25th August it suffered a flying accident but was able to be repaired onsite.
Spitfire Mk VB (EN830) in its Royal Air Force colours.
18th November 1942
With No. 131 Squadron now operating from RAF Westhampnett the weather that day brought with it low cloud and poor visibility,
the ideal conditions for which Fighter Command launched 'Rhubarb' sorties. These saw a section of fighters/fighter-bombers fly across the English Channel then fly below the clouds and look for
targets of opportunity. The two pilots who would undertake the task in their Spitfires were Pilot Officer Bernard Scheidhauer and Pilot Officer Henri de Bordas, who were part of the Free French Air Force.
After making their way across the channel to France they arrived at St-Aubin-Sur-Mer, Caen before flying to Carentan, Normandy, on reaching Ecausseville, Normandy P/O de Bordas had become separated from
P/O Scheidhauer, whose aircraft had been hit by flack. Making his way west P/O Scheidhauer made a forced landing in a field on what he thought was the Isle of Wight but was in fact occupied Jersey.
He was captured by the Germans and sent to Stalag Luft III where he would take part in the 'Great Escape' being paired with
Squadron Leader Roger Bushall. Four days after they escaped they,
along with 48 other escapees, were murdered by the Gestapo. Pilot Officer Bernard Scheidhauer, born on the 18th August 1921, died on the 30th March 1944. He was just 22 years old.
Pilot Officer Henri de Bordas returned to RAF Westhamptnett. He would take part in the Dieppe raid and D-Day and by the end of the Second World War (1939 - 1945) had amassed over 480 hours of combat
experience. Born on the 4th October 1921 Henri de Bordas died on the 22nd October 2011 at the age of 90.
Despite its crash landing the aircraft was flyable and with its Royal Air Force roundel replaced with the
Luftwaffe's black crosses it was flown to the Luftwaffe's main test airfield at Rechlin,
Germany within a month of its capture. It would be given the code CJ-ZY and painted yellow and green. A number of changes were made to the Spitfire, firstly its 12 volt electrical system was
replaced with the Luftwaffe's 24 volt one, its armament removed and its Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 was also removed with a Daimler-Benz DB 605A engine installed. It would then be sent to Echterdingen, Germany
where a propeller and carburettor scoop from a Messerschmitt Bf 109G was fitted.
The Bf 109G was powered by the same Daimler-Benz engine so comparison tests were done between the two aircraft.
The Spitfire stayed at Echterdingen where it would be tested by Daimler Benz pilots and would then spend the next two years as a test bed before being destroyed in a United States Army
Air Force bombing raid on the 14th August 1944.
Spitfire Mk VB (EN830) after being re-painted into the Luftwaffe's colours and known as CJ-ZY.