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Alan McGregor Peart 1922-2018

 

Alan McGregor Peart 1922-2018. All photos via SPITFIRE – A Very British Love Story

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.

A 610 Squadron unit photo, with Alan Peart standing 4th from right top row. This photo was taken at Ludham near Norwich around the time of the Dieppe raid – 19 August 1942. OC Johnnie Johnson is seated in the centre, with his dog.

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.

Alan Peart on Anzac Day 2006 in Hamilton, New Zealand.

All photos via SPITFIRE – A Very British Love Story

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