One of the worst hit was 131 Wing at St Denis-Westren. The three Polish squadrons - Nos 302, 308 and 317 - lost about 20 Spitfires, some from forced landings due to lack of fuel and Nos 308 and 317 Squadrons each lost a Spitfire in combat. By contrast, the Wing claimed 18 Fw-190s shot down.
No 485 Squadron at Maldeghem was also badly hit, losing 14 of its Mk IXs destroyed on the ground. At Ophoven, Nos 130 and 350 Squadrons had 10 Mk XIVs badly damaged but curiously Nos 41 and 610 Squadrons at the same airfield were unscathed. The five Canadian squadrons of 126 Wing at Heesch lost one pilot from No 442 Squadron in combat, together with his Mk IX and another pilot from the same squadron was injured when he crashed on landing. In all, five Spitfires were lost in the air and two crashed on their return, six pilots were killed and one was wounded. Spitfire pilots claimed 56 of the enemy, mostly Bf-109s and Fw-190s.
The Spitfire F.21 entered service with No 91 Squadron at Manston in January, despite having suffered early handling problems. The squadron began operations with modified aircraft from Ludham in March, flying armed reconnaissances and on 16 April, two aircraft strafed a midget submarine they caught on the surface and claimed it as sunk.
Spitfires also escorted Lancasters and Halifaxes on two of the last major raids of the war - daylight attacks on Heligoland and Wangerooge. One of the pilots was Bobby Oxspring who had started on Spitfires with No 66 Squadron in February 1939 and was now finishing the war as Wing Leader of No 24 Wing, still flying Spitfires.
As well as providing escort to the bombers, Spitfires were being used as dive-bombers with 250lb and 500lb bombs or, more rarely, as rocket-firing fighter-bombers. Little was seen of the Luftwaffe after New Year's Day but the flak remained intense and accurate. Targets for the Spitfires were varied, and included factories, road and railways communications and German Troop positions.
More than 3,000 F.21s had been ordered when the end of the war brought drastic cuts and only 120 were built - enough to equip four squadrons. A few were fitted with contra-rotating propellers, which eliminated skidding and made the aircraft very stable as a gun platform. This idea was later adopted for the Seafire 47.
In the Far East, there were some 21 squadrons of Spitfires, including nine squadrons of the Indian Air Force, all but one of them equipped with Mk VIIIs. There were also two squadrons of Seafires aboard HMS Indefatigable in January 1945 as part of the British Pacific Fleet. In March, the 21st Carrier Group included three squadrons of Seafires which covered the landings in Rangoon and Penang and the raids on the oil fields in Sumatra. In the absence of any Japanese air activity, the Seafires also strafed enemy positions, ships and airfields. No Seafires were lost in combat, but a number succumbed to landing accidents. The first aerial combat successes came on 1 April when three kamikaze Zeros were shot down.
The last Seafire squadrons to see action were Nos 801 and 880. Carrying American auxiliary fuel tanks which improved their range by 50%, their Mk IIIs shot down eight Zeros without loss while escorting Avengers on 15 August. On VJ-Day, there were 12 FAA Seafires squadrons, all but four flying the Seafire MkIII. The Griffon-engined Seafires were too late to see war service but then quickly replaced the Mk IIIs, the first of these being the Mk XV.
RAF fighter squadrons in the Far East were in the process of being re-equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts, however the end of the war brought a cessation to the American Lend/Lease programme, thus earning a reprieve for the remaining Spitfires.
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