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Author Topic: White-striped Mk. Vs - Dieppe or not?  (Read 7054 times)

« on: December 16, 2008, 03:06:51 PM »

I have a few concerns about white-striped Spitfires Mk. V which appeared some time during 1942. Quoting from the comments to the recent models by Mr. Whipple:


There are two myths perpetuated about this Spitfire. That the special markings were applied for Operation Jubilee, the raid on Dieppe, and that it was the personnel aircraft of W/Cdr Witorzeńć. There is even a little story that goes with it.

“While at Croydon, the Poles began to look for ways to facilitate the instant recognition of friendly aircraft and came up with the idea of painting the noses of their fighters with white stripes. These were experimentally applied to W/Cdr Witorzeńć’s Spitfire VB WX*C (AA853). A few other machines were marked with chalk in preparation for painting, but the idea was abandoned, apparently for lack of official RAF approval.”

There are problems with this story. For a start there are photographs of Spitfires of both 310 (Czechoslovakian) and 331 (Norwegian) Squadrons with identical markings. However photographs of aircraft taking part in Operation Jubilee and shot down over Dieppe do not have any special markings. In fact, the markings were introduced by Fighter Command signal on 5th July 1942 for Operation Rutter, the original planned raid on Dieppe, which was aborted due to bad weather and forces being spotted in the Channel. The markings were abandoned by FC signal on 17th July before the Dieppe raid, reinstated as Operation Jubilee, took place.

AA853 was photographed at Croydon on 6th July during the concentration for operation Rutter. The entire 302 Squadron, including AA853, was based at Heston reporting to 1st Polish Wing headquartered at Northolt not Kirton-in-Lindsey. From 28th November 1941 until 25th September 1942 W/Cdr Witorzeńć commanded the 2nd Polish Wing at Kinton-in-Lindsey. He never commanded the 1st Polish Wing until post-war, called then 131 (Polish) Fighter Wing. If AA853 was ever used by W/Cdr Witorzeńć it would have to be before 7th May 1942 when 302 Squadron moved from Kirton-in-Lindsey to Heston to join the 1st Polish Wing. "

Is this right? Could anyone provide a definitive explanation as to why these markings were applied.


Posts: 4

« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2009, 12:30:35 AM »

The white stripes were NOT for the Dieppe raid.  Anything that suggest they were is false.

To further the statement, other aircraft that have been photographed with various stripes don't have anything to do with Operation Jubilee.

Various white markings on Spitfires are associated with earlier exercises. 

Black and white stripes are of course tied to Operations Overlord and Spartan.
Full Member
Posts: 166

« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 03:55:36 PM »

Yes, but the funny thing is that if the white-striped noses were indeed the order of the day for Operation Rutter, they are also connected with Dieppe.

Operation Rutter was in fact the forerunner to Operation Jubilee - the Allied attack on Dieppe in August 1942.
Operation Rutter was planned to take place between the 4 and 8 July. After weeks of training and preparation the troops embarked on their craft but the order to sail was not given as the period of time when the tides were most suitable coincided with a bout of very unsettled weather. On top of this, the Germans spotted the convoy gathered in the Solent and bombed them. While very little damage was done, it was possible that the enemy would now be alerted to the fact that some sort of amphibious operation was about to be undertaken. 

Quoted from: http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_rutter.html

To me, several questions seem still unanswered.

1. Were the white-striped nose markings to be universally applied during the Rutter? Judging from the fact that there are only a few known photos (from two units IIRC) showing this style of markings - on Spitfires only - I have my doubts.

2. I have never found any mention of the order by Fighter Command HQ to apply such markings.

3. If the markings were indeed intended as means of firendly a/c recognition during Rutter, why weren't any such (or similar) markings applied for the Jubilee?


Full Member
Posts: 161

« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 09:43:57 PM »

The signals are known to bona fide historians who use the historical record in their researches and are not in dispute by them.

310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron 1940 -1945 Tomas Polak:-

“Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB EP637, Redhill July 1942. Between 03.07.1942 and 08.07.1942, No 310 Squadron was temporarily detached in Redhill for Operation Rutter, the original version of Operation Jubilee. For this matter, mechanics painted four white stripes, whose were never used during Jubilee on 19.08.1942. When Rutter was soon cancelled in the afternoon on 08.07.142, orders were given to delete those stripes.”

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V Wojtek Matusiak

“Epitomising legends and myths of the Spitfire V story is this machine, AA853 WX-C of no. 302 (Polish) Sqn, often mis-captioned (even in this author’s earliest publications…) as “the personal mount of W/Cdr Witorzeńć, commanding the 1st Polish Wing” and purported to show “the special markings applied for the Operation ‘Jubilee’ (19 August 1942)”. As a matter of fact during mid-1942 W/Cdr Witorzeńć commanded the 2nd Polish Wing, headquartered at Kirton-in-Lindsey, while AA853 and the entire no.302 Squadron was based at Heston, reporting to the 1st Polish Wing at Northolt. What is more, the nose and tail bands were introduced by Fighter Command signal on 5 July 1942 and abandoned by FC signal of 17th July. No special markings were used during operation ‘Jubilee’.”

I wrote to Mr Matusiak requesting further information. His reply.

Dear Mr Lachetta,

I am unable to quote reference numbers of the orders or to quote them literally as I cannot access my files at the moment, and I will not be able to do so for some time.

1. IIRC they were to be applied to all single-engined fighters (possibly except Mustangs) of No. 11 Group. Photographs of these markings in at least six Spitfire squadrons exist, and I have also seen a photo of a Hurricane with such markings.

3. The actual purpose of the markings is not known.

A while ago I wrote an article in Polish about these markings. Hopefully it will be published shortly in the DO BRONI bi-monthly.

According to Witorzenc's personal flying log book as well as No. 302 Sqn records he has never flown AA853.
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