The Red Lichtie
The distinctive round window high in the ruins of the south transept of Arbroath Abbey was originally lit up at night as a beacon to guide the fishermen in to harbour. It is known locally as the ‘Round O’, and from this tradition, inhabitants of Arbroath are colloquially known as ‘Reid Lichties’ (Scots reid = red)
During WWII The people of Arbroath started a ‘Spitfire Fund’ to raise £5,000 and purchase a Spitfire to help with the war effort.
They succeeded in this and a MkVb Spitfire was built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. On 24th May 1942, Spitfire EP121 was delivered to the RAF at Burtonwood and it was named the ‘Red Lichtie’ after the people of Arbroath who purchased it.
Replica ‘Red Lichtie’
Similar to the wartime Fund the Heritage Centre started its own ‘Spitfire Fund’ in 2012 to raise money for the purchase a full size replica Spitfire. Additional funding from Angus Council enabled the purchase of the Spitfire that now sits at the front of the main building. The Aircraft, made by GB Replicas, stands as a monument to the many people who served there during two World Wars. It is in the colours and markings of the 602 Squadron (City of Glasgow) Red Lichtie Spitfire. On 26th July 2013 HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex visited the Heritage Centre and unveiled the Spitfire and commemorative stone.
To see photographs of the Spitfire arriving at the Heritage Centre on 17th July 2013 and its assembly please click the button below.
EP121 Service History
In 1942 a Supermarine Spitfire MkVb number EP121 and fitted with a Merlin 46, 1415 hp engine, was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham. It was named the ‘Red Lichtie’ after the people of Arbroath who had raised the money to build it.
24th May, 1942, EP121 was taken on charge by the Royal Air Force at Burtonwood.
30th May, 1942, the aircraft moved to No.50 (County of Gloucester) Squadron engaged on convoy patrols, Rhubarb and Roadstead operations from Ibsley.
24th July, 1942, it was damage when Sergeant W.N. Strang landed on the wrong runway and the port wheel collapsed.
29th July, 1942, It was allocated for repair in works on , being sent to Westland at Ilchester on August 1. Ready for collecting on 19th September, the aircraft was delivered six days later to No.39 MU Colerne, then went to Phillips & Powis at South Marston on 10th October to be flown to No. 38 MU Llandow on 23rd November, 1943.
29th December, 1942, EP 121 joined No. 131 (County of Kent) Squadron at Westhampnett to fly sweeps, Circus and Rhubarb operations.
20th January, 1943, No. 610 (County of Chester) Squadron transfer in from Castletown taking over EP 121, now coded DW-B.
13th February, 1943, the commanding officer, Squadron Leader J.E. Johnson, flying ‘Red Lichtie’, probably destroyed a FW 190 southwest of Boulogne.
7th March, 1943, the aircraft joined No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron at Perranporth to be engaged mainly on shipping patrols.
18th April, 1943, damaged on April 18 when the radiator shield was torn away during a high-speed dive.
24th April, 1943, returned to flying duties with No. 412 (RCAF) Squadron on April 24 at Perranporth.
10th June, 1943, EP 121 transferred to No.416 (RCAF) Squadron at Digby.
26th June, 1943, an engine cut on approach caused the aircraft to stalled and spin into the ground. The pilot, Sergeant W.H.Palmer (Canada) was injured but survived the crash. The aircraft was unrepairable and later scrapped.