Spitfire IX, BS288 - Exhibit at Wings Museum, Balcombe
At 16.25hrs, on 15th December, 1943, Spitfire IX, BS288, caught fire over East Grinstead, forcing the pilot, Flight Sergeant E. L. Hampson (138274), to abandon the aircraft and take to his parachute. The Spitfire plummeted into the ground at Forest Row.
The aircraft had first flown on 1st September, 1942, before being taken on strength by No.306 (Polish) Squadron at Northolt later that month. After being damaged in an accident on 10th December, BS288 was sent for repair and then issued to No.403 Squadron RCAF, at RAF Kenley. On 7th June, 1943, Flying Officer James Ian ‘Skip’ McKay took BS288 for an air test and flew it throughout June. Many of 403’s pilots flew the aircraft occasionally, but Flying Officer J. A. Wilson was one of the most regular. On 8th July, he flew BS288 down to Hamble for modifications and then ferried it back on 15th.
All in all BS288 made approximately 70 operational flights with 403 Squadron, flying from Kenley, Lashenden and Headcorn, between 11th June and 24th October. On 24th June, F/Lt. Harry Deane MacDonald claimed a FW190 destroyed during ‘Ramrod’ 103 to St. Omer, while flying BS288.
On 7th November, 1943, BS288 suffered an engine failure on landing at Biggin Hill and was issued to 405 Repair and Salvage Unit, who were based there. Flight Sergeant E. L. Hampson, who baled out of the aircraft on 15th December, was probably one of the pilots on No.405 R&SU’s Reception Flight.
Parts of Spitfire IX, BS288, are on display at the excellent Wings Aviation Museum, Balcombe, Sussex, which is entirely run by volunteers and is dedicated to all nationalities that fought in WW2. The museum will be re-opening in March 2021. Please visit their website, here, for more information and news on their projects and up-coming events.
Many thanks Pierre and all at Wings Museum.