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SQNLDR Kenneth E James 408021

Squadron/s457 SQN
79 SQN
Rank On Discharge/Death Squadron Leader (SQNLDR)
Mustering / SpecialisationPilot
Contributing Author/sSteve McGregor
The spitfire Association

Skeeta James served with the RAAF from September 1941 to Feb 1944.

Skeeta was a native of Victoria. He succeeded R.C.H. Sly as B Flight Commander between 28 April 1942 and 18 June 1942. He replaced D.H. Maclean before taking command of the unit.

Later he was Commanding Officer (CO) of No 85 Squadron RAAF, from September 1944 to March 1945, then No 790 Squadron RAAF from May 1945.

Skeeta had three confirmed victories, one being shared with No 457 Squadron, Europe, and Darwin 1942-1943.

Ken (Skeeta) James was also one of the members of the founding committee of the Spitfire Association, which in 2021 celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Here's an excerpt of Skeeta James memories of flying a Spitfire for the first time in Australia.

As R.A.A.F. Laverton Squadron Leader Ken James reached forward and pushed the starter and booster coil buttons. As the prop started to turn, he vigorously worked the priming pump. One, two, three, four blades, the engine coughed and then with a belch of exhaust smoke burst roughly into life. Soon the Merlin settled down into its familiar rough idle and staccato crackle from the exhausts. Ken released the buttons and stowed the primer pump as the engine warmed up. All the vital signs looked good, oil pressure and temperature in the green, coolant temperature well within limits, brake pressure up to 120 psi and time for the power and magneto checks.

Ken ensured that he had two men on the tail. He then opened up to maximum boost with weak cruising fuel mixture and exercised the constant speed propeller. No problems there. He then applied full throttle and checked that he was able to attain maximum take-off power of 12 inches of boost at 3,000 rpm. Then, coming back to 7 inches of boost and 2,650 rpm, he cut each magneto in turn and observed the drop in revs. Less than 150; that's OK. As he throttled back to idle, he again checked temperatures and pressures. All were within limits. It was time to fly.

As he taxied out, Ken did his final checks. Trim, elevator one division nose down, rudder full right; flaps up; radiator shutter open; mixture rich; pitch fine. He turned on to the runway and slowly opened the throttle. Countering any tendency to swing with a boot-full of rudder, he held the Spitfire VC straight until, he gently lifted off the runway and retracted the undercarriage as the aircraft accelerated to 170 mph.

As he pulled into the climb, the thought passed through Ken James' mind that it was three months since he had last had the joy of flying a Spitfire. That had been halfway around the world in the United Kingdom, and he had been flying operations against another enemy. Now he was back in Australia to help save his homeland from the Japanese.

Ken "Skeeta" James with mascot Spitty

Learn more about the squadron/s in which Kenneth served.

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