Alan McGregor Peart DFC, thought to be New Zealand’s last surviving fighter ace, has died aged 96 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Spitfire pilot Alan Peart, who reached the rank of Flight Lieutenant, had served in 81 and 610 Squadrons, flying operationally in Europe, North Africa and Burma and having achieved a total of 9.5 confirmed victories and 9 aircraft claimed as damaged. He was thus classed has an ‘ace’ pilot after achieving five or more victories.
In 1944, while flying a Spitfire VIII in Burma, he took on 20 Japanese ‘Oscar’ fighters and survived – albeit with a damaged aircraft and after his section leader had been shot down and killed. The odds against survival during such a one-sided encounter were heavily stacked against him, but Alan flung his aircraft around the sky as he battled the Oscars. As he did so, he over stressed the wings and caused rivets to pop and the alloy skinning to buckle.
Described as a courageous and compassionate man, Alan Peart was awarded the DFC in June 1944 and, aged 92, he flew again in a two seat Spitfire and handled the controls of the aircraft he had mastered as what he called ‘the ultimate fighting aeroplane’. Alan McGregor Peart died on September 5.
All photos via SPITFIRE – A Very British Love Story