Newmarket's Own Spitfire - AD540- "Blue Peter"
The only full photograph of Blue Peter found by anyone is this one from the Newmarket Journal at the time of her issue to the RAF
The moose on the badge arose from the number of Canadian pilots on the squadron when the crest was awarded (in the Bader days)
During World War Two great efforts were made to involve communities in donating funds for the war effort. One such was launched in 1941 here in Newmarket and the sum of £5,100 was raised for pay for a Supermarine Spitfire, which was to be named "Blue Peter" after the winner of the 1939 Derby
Spitfire LF Mk 5B - AD 540 was duly built at Castle Bromwich ( where her test flight was carried out by Alex Henshaw) and as promised, was named "Blue Peter". It is a moot point whether she was a 5A or a 5B, records differ. One record shows here issued first to 122 Squadron, but certainly when 242 Squadron re-formed at RAF Turhouse (Edinburgh) in April 192 and converted from Hurricanes to Spitfires, AD540 was one of their aircraft and received the call sign "R" Robert. The squadron code from April 1942 was LE. 242 squadron was at one time commanded by Douglas Bader (flying Hurricanes)
She was the aircraft of Pilot Officer David Hunter-Blair on May 23rd 1942, who, at 1pm, took off from RAF Ayr to provide aerial cover to the approaching liner "Queen Mary" laden with US servicemen. On the way, Blue Peter, and a second Spitfire, piloted by Flight Sergeant Gordon "Matt" Mathers, were directed to investigate a suspected enemy sighting inland. Soon, at an altitude of 20,000ft, Blue Peter was seen to behave erratically, and then descend through the clouds. David Hunter Blair apparently had fallen unconscious due to a fault in the oxygen system, and regained conciousness as the aircraft plunged to a lower altitude. Unable to regain control, he baled out. However, his parachute did not deploy fully before he landed, and he died in the remote valleys of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn in South West Scotland. He was nineteen years old
David Hunter-Blair came from a landed family living at Blairquhan Castle, only 15 miles from where he had lost his life. After private schooling, eventually going to Eton, he joined the Royal Air Force, going to America for flying tuition
There are two other video clips on You Tube that cover the story
This is also recorded in great detail click here
the team at the wreck site in 1993
There is seemingly work under way to rebuild an airworthy Spitfire incorporating the remains of Blue Peter (2020).