Flight Lieutenant David John Colin Pinckney, RAF no. 72520
Colin Pinckney was born in Hungerford, Berkshire, attending Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the University Air Squadron.
Subsequently he became part of the RAFVR being commissioned to Pilot Officer on 6 December 1938, and was called up in October 1939.
He was promoted to Pilot Officer (RAF) on 2 October, serving initially at 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum in May 1940, on completion of training.
On 6 June, he was promoted to Flying Officer.
With the fall of France, he was sent to 5 OTU at Aston Down on 23 June and after converting to Spitfires joined 603 Squadron on 6 July 1940.
On 29 August, after claiming his first victory, he was shot down and suffered slight burns.
His Spitfire (R6753) crashed at St Mary's Road, Dymchurch.
He quickly recovered, and was back in action by late September.
On the 23 November a fighter sweep was flown by 29 CR.42s of the 18o Gruppo led by Maggiore Ferruccio Vosilla with Sottotenente Franco Bordoni-Bisleri as his wingman. The course was Dunquerque - Margate - Eastchurch - Folkestone - Calais while 24 G.50s of the 20o Gruppo covered them, operating a little further inland. At 11:40, 12 Spitfires Mk.IIs (P7550, P7597, P7311, P7496, P7529, P7388, P7289, P7543, P7389, P7449, P7528, and P7324) from 603 Squadron were scrambled from Hornchurch and headed south. Off Folkestone, 603 Squadron spotted the Italian CR.42s travelling west and the Spitfires hit them from astern. The CR.42s were badly bounced and two of them were lost when MM5694 of the 83a Squadriglia flown by Tenente Guido Mazza and MM5665 of the 95a Squadriglia flown by Sergente Maggiore Giacomo Grillo were shot down into the sea and reported missing. On return to base Sergente Maggiore F. Campanile and Sergente P. Melano of the 83a Squadriglia had to force-land and both pilots were slightly injured. Later it was found out that Campanile had, due to the lack of armour plating, been saved by his parachute pack, which had stopped several machinegun bullets. During the combat Tenente Giulio Cesare Giuntella’s CR.42 was hit several times but he returned claiming hits on a Spitfire. Maresciallo Felice Sozzi of the 83a Squadriglia (83-15) attacked and chased off a Spitfire on the tail of Sergente Maggiore Luigi Gorrini’s aircraft, who in his turn were attacking other British Spitfires. Sozzi was however hit in return by two other Spitfires, who attacked him from behind. He was seriously wounded with three bullets in his lungs, but he succeeded despite pain and a damaged aircraft, to return for an emergency landing on a Belgian beach. He survived his ordeal and recovered to receive the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare “in the field”.
603 Squadron reported that they were to patrol Hornchurch at 4500 meters together with 64 Squadron. They were then ordered on to the Maidstone Patrol Line, then to the Rochford Line. When over Rochford they were detailed to Raid 44 and the squadron went south at 8500 meters. They were given correct height and direction of the enemy raid and dived through misty clouds which was 10/10 from 5500 meters to 7900 meters. When about 16km south-west of Dover they saw about 20 Fiat CR.42s at about 6000 meters flying west parallel to the English coast. There appeared to two separate groups of CR.42s flying one behind the other.
In the front group were four CR.42s in vic echelon starboard, flying wing tip to wing tip. To the right and slightly behind was one CR.42, which was attacked and shot down. There were several CR.42s to the left of this formation.
The second formation consisted of vics, pairs and single aircraft in no special order. Behind and about 90 meters above were two CR.42s flying absolutely straight (no weaving). The Cr42s were flying at about 320km/h.
603 Squadron dived and attacked the rear formation. On the whole, the Italian aircraft took no evasive action and those not attacked flew straight on, keeping their formation although Spitfires were weaving in and out of them. 603 Squadron reported that this was like attacking bombers.
Of those attacked from the rear, one climbed almost vertically, one turned slightly to port and one reduced speed considerably and made a sharp turn.
Pilot Officer Gilroy made head-on attacks on three separate CR.42s, the first of which took no evasive action and he had to pull out over the top of it at the last moment. When at 180 meters range the second CR.42 turned to the right and he had to pull out over the top of the third. All three aircraft fired at him, and twin streams of tracer were seen. Pilot Officer Gilroy’s Spitfire was hit by an amour piercing 7.7mm bullet in the spinner.
Pilot Officer Ronald Berry (P7449) thought that he had hit a reserve petrol in the top wing of an aircraft he attacked. He had a five-minute dogfight with two CR.42s which were on his tail and turned inside him every time. He spun three or four times but the CR.42s were always waiting for him and eventually he had to dive out of range.
Flying Officer Brian MacNamara (P7388), on attacking an enemy aircraft, reported first white and then black smoke coming from in front of the pilot, followed by a shower of small white objects., After this the CR.42 caught fire.
Pilot Officer Archie Winskill (P7389) had four CR.42s on his tail, one of which splintered his Perspex hood. He climbed straight up and left them behind.
The CR.42s had yellow nose, white engine cowlings, green and black camouflage resembling a mackerel, white crosses on tail and white circles with three red fasces on their wings.
None of the Italian pilots baled out and it was thought from the reactions of the aircraft after being fired on that in almost every case the pilot was killed.
It was not understood why the CR.42s kept formation when they were not being attacked and flew straight on. The two CR.42s flying behind the formation did not appear to be guarding it.
603 Squadron was very impressed by the willingness of the Italian pilots to dogfight when attacked, compared to previous experience with Bf 109s and in general their morale was far higher than they had been given to understand.
603 Squadron didn’t suffer any casualties and ten Spitfire landed at Hornchurch at 13:30, one aircraft landed at Rochford while one aircraft landed at Hawkinge. 603 Squadron claimed seven destroyed, two probables and two damaged:
Pilot Officer Winskill claimed two CR.42s destroyed (one in flames, one in sea).
Sergeant Andrew Darling (P7324) claimed two CR.42s destroyed (both in sea).
Flying Officer MacNamara claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in flames).
Flying Officer Pinckney (P7529) claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in sea).
Pilot Officer Berry claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in sea) and one probably destroyed CR.42 (out of control).
Flight Lieutenant John Boulter (P7597) claimed one probably destroyed CR.42 (clouds of smoke and thinks it caught fire).
Pilot Officer David Scott-Malden (P7278 (?)/D) claimed two damaged CR.42s (1 bits of rudder, 1 tracer entered fuselage).
Squadron Leader George Denholm (P7550), CO 603 Squadron, described the combat:
The Italians looked quite toy-like in their brightly-coloured camouflage, and I remember thinking that it seemed almost a shame to shoot down such pretty machines. I must have been wrong, for the pilot who saw six going down at the same time said afterwards that it was a glorious sight. But I must say this about the Eye-ties: they showed fight in a way the Germans have never done with our squadron.Denholm chased one Fiat halfway across the Channel but had to let it limp home as his own engine started to splutter.
In December, he was posted to Singapore, initially to 243 Squadron, but then to 67 Squadron, where as a Flying Officer he was acting commanding officer when this unit formed in March 1941.
He then moved with the unit to Burma, becoming a flight commander.
During the initial attack on Rangoon by the Japanese in December 1941, he was in action flying Brewster Buffalos W8190 and W8191.
Japanese aircraft attacked Rangoon on 25 December 1941. The units of the 7th Hikodan were off first, 27 Ki-21s from the 12th Sentai and 36 more from the 60th Sentai, escorted by 25 Ki-43s from the 64th Sentai. The 10th Hikodan followed with eight Ki-21s from the 62nd Sentai and 27 Ki-30s of the 31st Sentai escorted by 32 Ki-27s of the 77th Sentai. Four Ki-44s of the 47th I F Chutai provided patrols over Don Muang in case of attack during take-off or landing. The commander of the 7th Hikodan, Wing Commander Kenji Yamamoto, flew in the leading aircraft of the 12th Sentai together with the 12th Sentai commander, Colonel Kumao Kitajima.
Before takeoff from Don Muang, the CO of 64th Sentai, Major Tateo Kato, told his pilots:
"We must drive away the enemy fighters from our bombers like a paper fan against flies."On the way the leading Ki-21 of the 12th Sentai with Yamamoto and Kitajima, suffered an engine failure and turned back. The other bombers followed, but realized something was wrong, resumed their original course and proceeded separately from the main force, but still escorted by some of the Ki-43s (from 64th Sentai).
"I saw another P-40 who was also leaving the scrap. By now we were 140-150 miles across the gulf from Rangoon. I joined the other ship and saw that it was Dupouy. We started back across the gulf at 17,000ft, and had only gone about 30 miles out off the shore of Moulmein when we spotted three Model Os in a V-formation below us, apparently heading home. We dropped down on their tails and surprised them. Dupouy was following me as I picked out the right-hand wingman. I fired from about 50 yards, and Dupouy fired behind me. The Jap exploded right in front of my face. I pulled sharply up to the right to avoid hitting him, and Dupouy pulled up to the left. In doing so, his right wing clipped the other Jap wingman's ship right in the wing root, and the Jap spun into the gulf, too."It seems that Reed and Dupouy had scored the first two P-40 victories over the Ki-43.
On 23 January 1942, the first three Hurricanes arrived to Mingaladon where they landed at 09:15. Within minutes of their arrival the approach of a Japanese raiding force was announced.
The first wave of the attack comprised 24 Ki-27s of the 50th Sentai but, before their arrival over Mingaladon, two Buffaloes had been scrambled when a reconnaissance aircraft had been sighted over Zayatkwin; before they could make an interception however, Flight Lieutenant Pinckney and Sergeant Christiansen ran into the Ki-27s, Pinckney (W8239) being shot down and killed near Pegu (the award of a DFC to this pilot would be announced the following June), while Christiansen claimed one of the attackers shot down. A further Buffalo (flown by Pilot Officer Cooper of 67 Squadron) together with five P-40s then joined the battle, followed by the three Hurricanes - still with the ungainly long-range tanks underwing - in the hands of Wing Commander Pennington-Legh (BG853), Squadron Leaders Stone (Z4726) and Elsdon (Z5334). The P-40s engaged the Ki-27s, Flight Leaders Hill and Lawlor of the 2nd AVG Squadron claiming two apiece, Hill adding a probable, while Bill Bartling of the 1st AVG Squadron claimed one and a probable. Pilot Officer Cooper also reported damaging one. The Hurricanes were attacked as they attempted to reach altitude; the one flown by Stone returning damaged.
During the fight, the 50th Sentai claimed two P-40s and one probable, one Buffalo, one ‘Spitfire’ and one probable, and one unidentified aircraft for the loss of two Ki-27s.
He was awarded a DFC posthumously, which was gazetted on 8 May 1942, the citation crediting him with four victories.
At the time of his death, Pinckney was credited 3 victories.
|Kill no.||Date||Time||Number||Type||Result||Plane type||Serial no.||Locality||Unit|
|1||29/08/40||1||Bf 109||Destroyed||Spitfire||R6753/G||Manston||603 Squadron|
|27/09/40||1||Bf 109||Probable||Spitfire||R6836||Canterbury||603 Squadron|
|10/10/40||1||Bf 109||Damaged||Spitfire||X4594||Dover Straits||603 Squadron|
|2||20/10/40||1||Bf 109||Destroyed||Spitfire||P7295||Maidstone area||603 Squadron|
|11/11/40||1||Bf 109||Probable||Spitfire||P7311||Thames Estuary||603 Squadron|
|17/11/40||1||Bf 109||Probable||Spitfire||P7529||E Herne Bay||603 Squadron|
|3||23/11/40||13:00 ca||1||CR.42 (a)||Destroyed||Spitfire||P7529||16km SW Dover||603 Squadron|
|25/12/41||1||Enemy fighter||Damaged||Buffalo||W8144/C||Rangoon area||67 Squadron|
|14/01/42||1||"Ju 52" (b)||Destroyed on the ground||Buffalo||W8239||Mesoht airfield||67 Squadron|
TOTAL: 3 destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, 2 damaged, 1 destroyed on the ground.
(a) Engagement with CR.42s from the 18o Gruppo.
(b) Japanese transport aircraft.
Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Aces High Volume 2 - Christopher Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-03-9
Men of the Battle of Britain - Kenneth G. Wynn, 1999 CCB Associates, ISBN 1-902074-10-6
RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims Of World War Two: Part One 1939-1940 - John Foreman, 2003 Red Kite, ISBN 0-9538061-8-9
Additional information kindly provided by Colin McCubbin.