Did You Know?
William Lidstone “Willie” McKnight (1918-1941), an original member of the RAF’s No. 242 (All Canadian) Squadron, was perhaps the most outstanding Canadian fighter pilot of the Battle of Britain and the first eighteen months of the Second World War with 17 confirmed kills, two shared kills, and three unconfirmed/probables credited to him, although Willie boasted of, and newspapers routinely reported of, “at least 23 Nazi planes downed.”
From 9 June 1940, McKnight’s regular mount was the Gloster-built Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, P2961, which would carry his personal markings on each side of its fuselage beneath the cockpit opening; the upper body and head of a skeleton brandishing a sickle from one of its hands – the Grim Reaper. At least nine of McKnight’s confirmed victories were won while flying Hurricane P2961. On 12 January 1941, McKnight and Hurricane P2961 were lost without trace while on a low-level sortie over the coast of France.
Today, the Gatineau, Quebec-based Vintage Wings of Canada is restoring its Canadian Car and Foundry-built Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII project in the colours and markings worn by Hurricane P2961 during the period immediately following the Battle of Britain when flown by Flying Officer William Lidstone “Willie” McKnight, DFC and Bar, of the RAF’s No. 242 (All Canadian) Squadron from RAF Stations Coltishall and Martlesham Heath during December 1940 and January 1941.
(Grim Reaper Artworks provided courtesy of Terry Higgins of Aviaeology / SkyGrid Studio.)
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