Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part I

The USAAF 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group operated the Spitfire Mark XI from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England. The Mark XI was a Mark IX airframe with all armament and armor removed and extra fuel and cameras added, optimized for high-altitude flight. This is PA944 with invasion stripes under the fuselage. (All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer)
Another view of PA944 showing the wear and weathering of her PRU Blue paint scheme. Note the serial on her fuselage repeated on the vertical tail. Here is an interview with the pilot of PA944, John Blyth. Well worth watching here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3SrjLlcUY&t=1s&ab_channel=DAvenport3-2614
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
A close-up of PA842 shows the same finish as MB946 above.
A fine study of MB950 in overall PRU Blue before her serials were repeated on the tail. PRU Blue is generally represented by modelers as approximately FS 35164 or FS 35189.
MB950 from another angle. The PRU Blue degraded quickly, and this aircraft shows several areas where the paint has been re-touched.
A later view of MB950, showing the Dark Red under the exhausts and Olive Drab rudder. By this time her serials have been applied to the tail. Note the prominent exhaust staining. The Spitfire Mk. XI on display at the NMUSAF is serialed as MB950, although her markings do not match either version in these photographs.
Here are two PR Mark V “War Weary” aircraft used as hacks, EN904 and AR404. Worn-out aircraft were declared War Weary when they had exceeded their airframe life and/or suffered damage which precluded them from being pushed to their original design limits safely.
Another view of AR404 which reveals several details useful for modelers and a surprise – an RAF roundel on her upper starboard wing. This emphasizes the value of multiple views of the same subject, one can only speculate which insignia are on the other wing surfaces.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/20/supermarine-spitfires-of-the-7th-photographic-reconnaissance-group-color-photographs-part-ii/

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