RAF Wilmslow - Gate Guardian

RAF Wilmslow had a retired Supermarine Spitfire as a 'Gate Guardian'. It was a Spitfire Mk Vb; serial 5377M aka EP120. The plane is still around today and back in flying condition, but not at Wilmslow! It had a starring role in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor. The photo above was taken by Dave Welch when he was stationed at RAF Wilmslow in Febuary/April 1958.

The picture above of the aircraft today was kindly supplied (& is copyright by) UK Warbirds - www.uk-warbirds.net where you will find more information about the history of the aircraft.

Bill Darling was at Wilmslow doing his "square bashing" in June 1958 and wrote to say:

"The Spitfire on the gate was EP120 a MkVb (marked as 5377M). EP120 started life on No. 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, at Ibsley, Hampshire, part of 10 Group. After a mishap, and following repair, EP120 was allocated to 19 Squadron, at that time at Perranporth in Cornwall. On 22nd April 1943 19 Sqn exchanged their aircraft with 402 Sqadron at Digby. EP120 flew 79 operational sorties with 402 Squadron, accounting for the destruction of six enemy aircraft (four Bf109s and two Fw190s). Overall EP120 shot down 9 enemy aircraft during it's wartime sevice.

At the end of the war she was allocated to No.4 School of Technical Training at R.A.F. St. Athan, being used for the training of newly inducted technicians. After time there she was moved to R.A.F. Wilmslow until the station was closed in 1960.

A maintenance serial change to 8070M accompanied a move to R.A.F. Bircham Newton in February 1960, until 1964, when again the station closed and she moved to R.A.F. Boulmer in Northumberland. 1967 saw a move to Henlow for the film "The Battle of Britain", EP120 remained a static machine. When the film was complete EP120 was allocated to R.A.F. Wattisham in Suffolk arriving on 14th December 1970 and departing on 30th January 1989. She was credited with 7.5 kills during her war career, and these are marked on her cockpit side. In 1993-5 she was put back into flying condition and flew again for the first time in 50 years on 12th September 1995. EP120 is now based with "The Fighter Collection" at Duxford and has the markings A-EA."

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