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  Spitfire LF.VIII Serial Number A58-489 Tail UP-L
RAAF
79 Squadron

Former assignments
3 AD
6 AD
9 RSU

Click For Enlargement
RAAF c1945

Pilot  W/O William Charles Leahy, 421683 (KIA, BR) Sydney, NSW
Crashed  September 22, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Supermarine as a model LF (Low altitude) Mark VIII. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number MT509. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia, arriving during July 1944.

Wartime History
Assigned Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) serial number A58-489. On July 4, 1944 received by 3 AD and reassembled. Next, assigned to 6 AD for temporary storage during June 10 - August 30, 1944. On November 1, 1944 assigned to 79 Squadron but did not begin service until December 6, 1944. On March 23, 1945 assigned code "UP-L". No known nickname or nose art.

On May 10, 1945 took off piloted by F/L Rumbold. During the combat mission over Doro village, damaged by anti-aircraft fire in the right mainplane at 2:30pm, but landed safely without injury to the pilot. Afterwards, repaired by 9 RSU and returned to the squadron on May 15, 1945.

Mission History
On September 22, 1945 one of six Spitfires that took off from Pitu Airfield on Morotai at 9:30am piloted by W/O William Charles Leahy on a test flight. This mission was after the cessation of hostilities with Japan. Owing to the failure of his section leader's radio, W/O Leahy took the lead from F/O Smithells and flew very low over Lake Galela in northern Halmahera Island. For reasons unknown, this aircraft was seen to strike the water, disintegrated and sank.

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the Leahy's body was recovered by Japanese and turned over to an Australian Officer for burial at Makassar War Cemetery.

Memorials
Leahy was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Later, his body was exhumed from Makassar War Cemetery and permanently buried at Ambon War Cemetery at grave 28. C. 14.

References
RAAFDB - William Woff Leahy
ADF Serials - Spitfire A58-489
CWGC - William Charles Leahy
Late Mark Spitfire Aces 1942-45 includes a photo of this aircraft in flight
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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