Header image: BBMF Hurricane Mk II LF363 with wasp nose art. (Photo: Claire Hartley)
Many readers will know that for the 2017 and 2018 display seasons BBMF Hurricane Mk II LF363 wore temporary code letters, applied with special, easily-removable paint partially covering the existing markings, to commemorate two surviving members of ‘The Few’. The port side code letters were ‘GN-F’, those of Tom Neil’s 249 Squadron aircraft during the Battle of Britain. Sadly, Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC and Bar AFC AE LdH passed away on 11th July 2018, three days before his 98th birthday. The ‘SD-A’ code letters on the starboard side of LF363 were those of one of the 501 Squadron Hurricanes flown by Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM during the Battle; Paul was 100 years old in July 2018.
The temporary paint had lasted longer than expected, but was beginning to wear off and the Flight made the decision to remove the ‘GN-F’ and ‘SD-A’ markings this winter and to return LF363 to its underlying colour scheme for the 2019 display season.
So from 2019 you can expect to see Hurricane LF363 back in the markings of the No 1 Squadron aircraft of the then Sergeant Pilot Arthur ‘Darkie’ Clowes during the latter part of the Battle of Britain. The real aircraft was Hurricane Mk 1 P3395, which bore the code letters ‘JX-B’ (“B for Beer”, he said) and had a wasp emblem painted on both sides of the nose by Clowes himself. The No 1 Squadron Hurricanes also had a ‘roundel yellow’ ring on their propeller spinners. LF363 previously wore this colour scheme for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 display seasons and will now continue to do so until its next ‘Major’ servicing, due towards the end of 2020. Hurricane LF363 was, of course, a founding aircraft of the BBMF in 1957; it is now 75 years old and will be playing a full part in the 2019 display season.
A reminder of the background story of Arthur Clowes and his Hurricane with the wasp nose art will feature in the forthcoming RAF Memorial Flight Official Club 2019 Yearbook, available only to Club members and due to be published in mid-April.