Spitfire BM144 crash near Bangor, Co. Down

On 9th October 1943, the well-known Supermarine Spitfire BM144 crash-landed near Bangor, Co. Down. The RAF 315 Squadron Pilot escaped with some injuries.

On 9th October 1943, Supermarine Spitfire BM144 PK-O crash-landed wheels-up near Bangor, Co. Down. The Mark V fighter plane was on a training flight in the hands of a Polish fighter pilot.

The plane experienced engine trouble on a training flight. The RAF had the plane written off after the accident. Polish Air Force pilot Flight Sergeant Kazimierz Lojek (P733144) of RAF 315 (City of Deblin) Squadron escaped with some injuries.

Spitfire BM144 had spent most of its time with Polish Squadrons in the Royal Air Force joining RAF 303 Squadron on 30th March 1942. First designated RF-D, the “Donald Duck” Spitfire was 1 of 3 planes flown by Polish Ace Commander Jan Zumbach. It later became RF-H (Halszka), the personal plane of Zygmunt Bieńkowski. Flying Officer Antoni “Toni” Głowacki also flew BM144 while based at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire. Zumbach scored at least 1 of his 12 victories in this plane.

On 1st June 1943, BM144 transferred to RAF 315 Squadron. During this time, it sustained category CA damage. This meant the squadron carried out repairs on site but the plane became used for instruction and training.

Spitfire BM144 escorts General Bernard Montgomery in 1943

Imperial War Museum Photo: NAM 16 (Part of the War Office Second World War Official Collection). A formation of Mark VB Supermarine Spitfires of RAF 303 Squadron escorting General Bernard Montgomery's Boeing B-17 from Prestwick to Northolt on his return from North Africa on 17th May 1943. Spitfire BM144 RF-H is likely flown by Squadron Leader Zygmunt Bieńkowski. Photo taken by Major Geoffrey Keating - No. 2 Army Film & Photographic Section.

Men from RAF 303 Squadron next to Spitfire BM144

Polish Air Squadrons Remembered Photo: Air crew of RAF 303 Squadron, one of several Polish squadrons, chalk up their 178th battle victory over the Luftwaffe next to Supermarine Spitfire BM144. Photo used with kind permission of Wilhelm Ratuszynski.

Spitfire BM144 with RAF 303 Squadron

A posed Royal Air Force image showing men from RAF 303 Squadron marking off the destruction of their 178th enemy plane. This plane would later crash-land near Bangor, Co. Down. Photo from "World War Photos". Copyright unknown.

General Sosknowski at RAF Ballyhalbert, Co. Down

Polish Air Squadrons Remembered Photo: General Sosnkowski in conversation with pilots of RAF 315 Squadron who have just staged a flypast at RAF Ballyhalbert, Co. Down. This was a highlight of the Squadron Day celebrations on 14th August 1943. Talking to him is Flight Lieutenant Zajac and Squadron Leader Jerszy Poplawski. In the background is Supermarine Spitfire PK-O BM144. Photo used with kind permission of Wilhelm Ratuszynski.