Spitfire AD540 Blue Peter

Carsphairn, Dumfries and Galloway













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: Supermarine Spitfire XVI at Duxford, September 2006.


spitfire mk xvi at duxford in september 2006


Photo: 2006 Taken by Chowells, Noise reduction and shadows lifted by Diliff. Original image here


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb / AD540



Aircraft Type Nickname: "The Spit".

Designed by R J Mitchell, the elliptical-winged Supermarine Spitfire was one of the most capable and effective fighters of WWII. It was produced in a number of variants, and with different power plants and armaments. The Spitfire was considered a high performing, agile and stable fighter platform. Ultimately, 20,000 Spitfires and Sea Spitfires (or 'Seafires'; the naval variant) were produced.

The Spitfire first entered service with the RAF at Duxford in August, 1938, and many subsequent variants were produced.

During the Battle of Britain, Mk I Spitfires were outnumbered by Hawker Hurricanes. Nevertheless, the Spitfires were usually considered as the most deadly aircraft in the skies above Britain.

The Mark II Spitfire was equipped with a Rolls-Royce Merlin XII engine of 1,175hp. The Mark IIA variant was fitted with eight .303in machine guns.



BELOW: RAF Spitfires in flight


raf spitfires in flight


Photo: As a work of the U.S. Federal Government, the image is in the public domain.






Aircraft Accident Details                      


In 1941, Spitfire AD540 had been presented to the RAF by the people of Newmarket. They had raised £5,100 towards the war effort which was used to fund this aircraft. (Many other communities elsewhere also presented the RAF with aircraft to help in the war effort.)



Spitfire AD540 ('Blue Peter') took off from RAF Ayr (Heathfield) to provide aerial protection for the RMS Queen Mary, then acting as a troopship. However, while en route, the pilot of 'Blue Peter' and of another Spitfire accompanying him received a message to alter course to intercept enemy aircraft inland. The enemy was not detected, but while flying at 20,000 feet P/O Blair's aircraft began to descend erratically. The pilot lost consciousness for a short time but recovered when the aircraft had reached a lower altitude. At this point, the pilot bailed out from the Spitfire. Sadly, however, his parachute failed to open fully.


The aircraft crashed 1km north-east of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. The pilot was found barely alive some distance north at Dugland Hill. Later, a memorial to the pilot was placed at this location.



Click here for story of the Spitfire called Blue Peter which crashed near Cairnsmore of Carsphairn in 1942. (External website.)






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who died in this incident was:


(Please click on the hyperlinked name above for further information at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)



Pilot Officer David Gasphard Hunter Blair was buried with full military honours in the family Cemetery at Blairquhan Castle, his ancestral home. Son of Sir James Hunter Blair.


David Gasphard Hunter Blair's name is among those engraved on the Straiton War Memorial.


The Memorial at Dugland Hill was where David Hunter Blair was found barely alive after abandoning the aircraft.


Crash site is 1km away at Roaring Cleuch. Recovery was on 12th July 1993.







Crash Site Photos



Wreckage Recovery Operation of Spitfire AD540 "Blue Peter" *


Recovery Date: 12 July 1993


* Blue Peter: Named after the winner of the 1939 Derby. Officially, The Blue Peter is an international maritime flag hoisted to signify that a vessel is about to proceed to sea.



BELOW: The recovery team, including members of the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group (from which was formed Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum).


Accompanying the recovery team was a film team from the BBC televison programme, "Blue Peter". The film team was present to record the recovery of their namesake aircraft.


wreckage recovery team with bbc team.


Photo © 1993-2014. Courtesy, Alan Thomson



BELOW: General overview of the excavation to uncover the remaining wreckage from AD540.


general overview of excavation.


Photo © 1993-2014. Courtesy, Alan Thomson



BELOW: The following photos show different stages of the recovery process.


preparing to recover wreckage.




recovery operation




recovery work progressing.



BELOW: John Leslie in cream trousers.


At this date (1993), John Leslie was the presenter of the BBC TV programme, "Blue Peter". Here, he is accompanying the BBC camera crew who are filming the recovery operation of the Spitfire fighter named "Blue Peter."


BBC Blue Peter's john leslie in cream trousers.












BELOW: The Spitfire's Merlin engine exposed.


merlin engine exposed.



BELOW (Centre of photo): A mud covered prop blade from the Spitfire's engine.


propeller blade on engine.



BELOW: Remains of prop blades.


remains of prop blades.



BELOW: Remains of the Spitfire's shattered wings.


remains of spitfire's wings.



BELOW: More wing parts.


more wing parts.



BELOW: Wing flaps, props and fuselage parts.


flap, props and fusealage parts.



BELOW (Foreground): Wing spar.


wing spar.



BELOW (Right foreground): General wing and fuselage remains.


recovered wing parts.


Recovery photos © 1993-2014.


All Spitfire AD540 recovery photos shown above were kindly made available by


Alan Thomson






Recovery Lift



BELOW The recovered Merlin engine.


recovered merlin engine.


Photo © 1993-2014 Alan Leishman.




BELOW The engine and other wreckage was removed from the crash site by an RN Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet (Prestwick).


helicopter lifting wreckage.


Photo © 1993-2014 Alan Leishman.



AD540 "Blue Peter" was last reported to be under restoration at Tyford, Buckinghamshire. The Merlin engine has been restored and was last known to be at Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.


























Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 23 May 1942


Accident Site:

Roaring Cleuch, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn


(NOTE: Roaring Cleuch is c. 1km NE of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.)


Nearest road: A713


Region: Dumfries and Galloway


Nearest town or village:



Nearest larger towns:

Maybole (NW), or Dalmellington (N).


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: Wreckage parts recovered by Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.


Merlin engine retained by DGAM. Remaining wreckage transferred to England for long-term rebuild of aircraft.



Other air crash site in this vicinity:


RAF Bristol Blenheim P4848 crash at Beninner.
(South of Roaring Cleuch, on same ridge line.)



Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: AD540 ("Blue Peter")


Operator:  RAF (242 Squadron)


Operating Station: RAF Ayr / Heathfield (Including also, RAF 44 Group Transport; RN HMS Gannett; HMS Wagtail.)


(Note: At this time, 242 Squadron was stationed at RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh. The Spitfires operating from Ayr may have been a detachment from the Turnhouse squadron.)


Station Location: Ayr (Heathfield) Aerodrome, Ayr, Scotland.


Current Station Status: Disused. Overbuilt partly by retail park and partly by extensions to Prestwick Airport


Nearest Current Airport Name:

Glasgow (Prestwick) International Airport (EGPK)


Nearest Current Airport Status:

Operational Civil Airport. Also, National Air Traffic Services (NATS): Scottish Area Control Centre (SACC), Oceanic Area Control Centre (OACC), Military Control, and Engineering.





Related Links


RAF and Related Links

242 Squadron



Museum Link

Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum. (Related group was involved in the recovery of Blue Peter.)



Other Links

Search for Blue Peter at Herald Scotland

Story of the Spitfire called Blue Peter

The Adventures of the Early Ooters: A Spitfire called Blue Peter.

The RAF in Newmarket (includes brief information on AD540.)




Hill Walking Links



(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)

WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)

Walking Scotland's Mountains




Emergency Services Link

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