A Second World War bomber is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month since its first outing. The Halifax LV907, which flew more successful missions than any other Halifax aircraft, got its name after the RAF 158 Squadron lost seven of the same bombers in succession, all bearing the registration letter ‘F’. When their newest aircraft, the LV907, arrived with the registration NP-F, some crewmen refused to fly in it, so Pilot Officer Cliff R R Smith gave it the superstitious name and decorated it with a grim reaper’s scythe, a skull and crossbones, and an inverted horseshoe, in an attempt to break the curse.
His efforts proved successful because in its very first mission, it saved the life of its pilot, Joe Hitchman, who was swapped from his regular aircraft onto the new one at the very last minute. His regular aircraft was shot down during a raid on 30 March 1944 along with 100 others, but Friday the 13th made it back to base safely. The plane went on to fly 128 missions, more than any other Halifax aircraft, making it one of the most successful bombers to fly during the war.
For its anniversary, the Yorkshire Air Museum is telling the story of the aircraft and displays an exact replica of Friday the 13th. The museum’s spokesperson, Ian Richardson, claims it is “drawing visitors from all over the world.”