Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Scottish pilot’s secret Spitfire found in peat bog

A remarkable story regarding one of the ‘Pink Spitfires’ of the PRU (Photographic Reconnaissance Unit), and its Scottish pilot, appeared in the news.

The remains of a Spitfire shot down while on a mission to photograph the WW2 German battleship Tirpitz have been recovered from a Norwegian peat bog.

Auchterarder-born pilot, Flt Lt Alastair “Sandy” Gunn, had flown the aircraft out of RAF Wick in Caithness on 5 March 1942.

Gunn was captured, interrogated, imprisoned and later executed after the Stalag Luft III “Great Escape”.

His plane, Spitfire AA810, is to be restored and flown again.

Finding the aircraft, which crashed on a mountainside near the village of Surnadal, south west of Trondheim, has involved months of research and days of painstaking recovery work.

Mr Hoskins paid tribute to Flt Lt Gunn, who was 22 and had flown 32 operational missions when was shot down.

He said the Scot, along with other pilots of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, faced huge odds on their missions from Scotland to Norway to find and photograph the Tirpitz.

The pilots chances of survival were extremely low, flying in aircraft stripped of guns and armour to make them lighter and also to carry additional fuel.

Mr Hoskins said: “The pilots’ only defence was evade and escape using the speed and agility of the aircraft.

Scot’s secret mission Spitfire found in Norwegian peat bog

I learned of the PRU many years ago, when looking for old aerial images at the National Museum of Scotland (before Google Earth!).

Quite a unit, as noted the aircraft were unarmed and lightened, and pics they came back with from sorties sometimes show them being chased by enemy aircraft, with following weapons fire splashing into the sea behind them.

Sadly, after being shot down and captured:

The pilot, who refused to give details of his missions, was later moved to Stalag Luft III in Poland and was a key figure in the prisoner of wars’ escape tunnel digging.

Flt Lt Gunn was among those to escape the camp, but he was captured after two days on the run and shot. He was 24.

The recovery of the aircraft will also feature in BBC Four’s Digging for Britain.

This image of a PRU aircraft shows the light colour (intended to aid concealment against the sky) and lack of weapons.

PRU Spitfire

PRU Spitfire

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Nov 24, 2018 - Posted by | military, photography, Surveillance, Transport, World War II | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Absolutely incredible story. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    Comment by aimeem0603 | Jan 1, 2019


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