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Air Vice Marshall James ‘Johnnie’ Johnson
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From March 10th 15:00 GMT to March 11th 15:00 GMT  

Requirements to unlock camouflages for Spitfire F.Mk.IX and Spitfire LF.Mk.IX are reduced by 50%

Camouflages price for Spitfire F.Mk.IX and Spitfire LF.Mk.IX are reduced by 50%

Born on March 9th 1915 at Barrow-upon-Soar, James Edgar Johnson was educated at Loughborough School. At the age of 17 Johnson bought his first shotgun and took to hunting rabbits for extra income. With regular practice Johnson’s marksmanship and deflection shooting skills rapidly improved, setting the foundations for the skillset he would soon require in war. He graduated from Nottingham University in 1937 as a Civil Engineer and tried to join the Auxiliary Air Force and the RAF Volunteer Reserve: he was rejected from both. He was, however, accepted into the ranks of the Territorial Army but with war on the horizon he was finally accepted for pilot training in the RAFVR in 1939.

Excelling during his Basic Flying Training, Johnson was selected for single seat fighters and in summer 1940 trained on the Miles Master and Supermarine Spitfire at Hawarden airfield. Despite a pre-war rugby injury to his collarbone causing him difficulties whilst flying, Johnson persevered and was qualified for posting to the front line as a Pilot Officer with No.19 Squadron in August 1940. However, No.19 Squadron had been involved in the thick of the fighting during the opening stages of the Battle of Britain and were not in a strong position to offer tutoring to a freshly qualified pilot. As a result, Johnson was moved to No.616 Squadron which had only recently moved from RAF Leconfield to RAF Kenley to be closer to the fighting. Although Johnson did manage to fly a small number of sorties during the Battle of Britain he was troubled by the same rugby injury which was only becoming more severe with each flight. Realising that he could not continue flying and against accusations of LMF (Lack of Moral Fibre, or cowardice) Johnson agreed to have a repeat operation on his collarbone. He made a full recovery but only had his medical category fully restored in the closing days of December 1940.

Returning to operational sorties in early 1941, Johnson was excited to discover that No.616 Squadron was now part of the Tangmere Wing under the command of the legendary Douglas Bader. Johnson often found himself flying directly under Bader’s command in the legless fighter ace’s section of four Spitfires. Throughout the spring of 1941 the Tangmere Wing was often employed in ‘Rhubarb’ ground attacks sorties over occupied France; it was not until June when Johnson shot down his first aircraft – a Messerschmitt Bf109. However, now nearly a year since he first qualified for front line service, Johnson rapidly set about making up for lost time with engaging enemy aircraft; any previous accusations of LMF were quickly dismissed as his aggression and gunnery skills saw a growing list of German aircraft destroyed.

However, in August Johnson was present in the mission over France where his mentor Bader was forced to jump from his stricken Spitfire and was captured. Shortly after, Johnson was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. By the end of the year Johnson, now a section leader himself, was withdrawn from the front line along with the rest of his squadron to rotate a fresh squadron through to replace them.

Returning to offensive operations in the spring of 1942, Johnson received a bar to his DFC in June and was promoted to Squadron Leader in the next month

Now as CO of No.610 Squadron, Johnson spent much of autumn 1942 flying from RAF Ludham in Norfolk, but was still equipped with the Spitfire Mk.V which was now markedly inferior to the Spitfire Mk.IX which had entered service with RAF Fighter Command. His squadron was involved in flying cover for the disastrous Operation Jubilee – the Dieppe Raid – where he succeeded in shooting down an FW190 and damaging a second German fighter. In September his squadron was moved to RAF Castletown in the very far north east of Scotland to protect the Royal Naval anchorage at Scapa Flow. He was married whilst on leave in November. At the end of the year, Johnson was promoted to Wing Commander and took command of No.144 (Canadian) Wing at RAF Kenley near London, equipped with the Spitfire Mk.IX. Now with more autonomy in a more senior position Johnson pushed for his wing to be involved in more fighter sweeps and bomber escort missions and less ground attack sorties. Now involved in more air-to-air combat, the Canadian wing earned the nickname the ‘Wolfpack’. In September 1943 Johnson was removed from front line duties and employed in a staff appointment with HQ of No.11 Group before returning to flying duties in March 1944. No.144 Wing were heavily involved in the build up to D-Day and the Normandy campaign, relocating to operate from air strips in France shortly after the invasion. Johnson also flew in support of Operation Market Garden; the airborne assault of Holland. In September 1944 he shot down his last aircraft, a Bf109, over Nijmegen. Whilst Johnson continued to fly operationally through 1945 there was next to no opposition as the Luftwaffe had been all but completely crippled. Johnson continued to fly after the war, serving as an exchange officer with the USAF and flying during the Korean War. He retired from the RAF in 1966 with the rank of Air Vice Marshall, and succumbed to cancer in 2001 at the age of 85. He is credited with between 34 and 38 enemy aircraft destroyed, all of which were single seat fighters.


The Aircraft – War Thunder has included already the skins for EN398 and MK392. Both were Spitfire Mk.IXs which Johnson flew during his time as Wing Leader of No.144 (Canadian) Wing. It is this link to Canada which accounts for the maple leak below the cockpit on both aircraft; Johnson’s initials (JE-J) are also painted in the aircraft in lieu of squadron codes – one of the perks of being a Wing Leader. MK392 is also painted in the black and white conspicuity stripes which were used to aid identification of friendly aircraft during several notable actions, most famously D-Day and the Normandy campaign.  

Decal to be added in one of the future updates:


"Flt Lt 'Johnnie' Johnson, No.616 Sqn RAF: 'Bader's Bus Company Still Running' in honour of the recently shot down and captured Douglas Bader, summer 1941"

Credits for decals going to: CharlieFoxtrot

The author:

Mark Barber, War Thunder Historical Consultant
Mark Barber is a pilot in the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. His first book was published by Osprey Publishing in 2008; subsequently, he has written several more titles for Osprey and has also published articles for several magazines, including the UK's top selling aviation magazine 'FlyPast'. His main areas of interest are British Naval Aviation in the First and Second World Wars and RAF Fighter Command in the Second World War. He currently works with Gaijin Entertainment as a Historical Consultant, helping to run the Historical Section of the War Thunder forums and heading up the Ace of the Month series.
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