Pilot Officer Suckling flew a RAF Coastal Command Spitfire PR Mk 1C, probably either P9310 or P9950, based at Wick, Scotland.
They were painted overall PRU Blue, with white code letters LY on fuselage sides, with no individual a/c letter.
Sources: Spitfire - The Story of a Famous Fighter by Bruce Robertson and Bismarck - Pride of the German Navy by John Asmussen.
As flown by PO Michael “Babe” Suckling taking off 11.05 AM from RAF WICK in Caithness NE tip of Scotland.
This was being used as a satellite base of his
No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.
Suckling flew first to RAF Sumburgh, at the southern tip of Shetland. Here, he topped-up his fuel tanks to gain an additional 30 minutes flying time.
Being a decorous bloke he didn't top up at the closer RNAS TWATT aka HMS Tern opened 1st April 1941 !! Yes really. As in beside Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
Flying south over Vindnes in Norway, Suckling sighted and photographed a cluster of large ships moored in Hjeltenfjord. One of them was the cruiser Prinz Eugen, with a destroyer, a tanker and three large merchant ships moored nearby.
By 1.15 PM, Suckling was flying over Grimstadfjord, south-west of Bergen. From 25,000 feet, he spotted and photographed the Bismarck, seen with three supply ships in attendance.
Brimming with excitement at his discoveries, Suckling immediately set course for Wick. Arriving back at 2.30 PM, his films were quickly removed from his aircraft and sent for developing. With the film still wet, photographic interpreter David Linton carried out first-phase interpretation and confirmed the presence of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Noting the activities of the attendant tankers and merchant ships, Linton reported that the ships were probably preparing for the open sea.
Coastal Command headquarters asked for copies of the photographs, to confirm Linton's report. Normally, films were sent from Wick by train but given the urgency of the situation, Suckling was tasked to fly the prints south himself, despite having just returned from a three-hour operational sortie. Finding himself running low on fuel and in failing light, Suckling landed his Spitfire near the home of a friend, not far from his home town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire. Together, they completed the remainder of the journey by car, delivering the prints to headquarters at Northwood, in north-west London, in the early hours of the next morning. There, the prints were examined and it was confirmed that Suckling had indeed photographed the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Furthermore, David Brachi, a shipping specialist from the Central Interpretation Unit, confirmed that the ships were taking on supplies and fuel in preparation for a long sea voyage. This analysis allowed the orchestration of a pursuit across the Atlantic that culminated in the sinking of the Bismarck on 27 May 1941.
See these webpages, https://ncap.org.uk/feature/hunting-bismarck https://ncap.org.uk/search?archive=1-1-21-1#free-text=yes&zoom=4&lat=8516925.14624&lon=563205.03747&layers=BT
Ok the Wingee Thingee Question is ,
"What Spitfire Model was 20 year old Pilot Officer Suckling flying ?
Surprised no Model Kitset Maker has not already come up with a Suckling PR Spitfire Variant tribute kit.
Going for gold, anyone got suggestions as to where look for Suckling's PR Spit's Markings, Serial Number and Colour Scheme ?
This website advises that his steed was a Spitfire PR Mk IV ? https://web.archive.org/web/20100218102953/http://www.airrecce.co.uk:80/WW2/units/RAF.html
Auckland New Zealand.