Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron

Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron


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Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron

Here we see a Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron, which the squadron operated from Italy and Corsica. The squadron can be identified from the SW code seen above the wing. The model can be identified from the MK247 serial number, which makes it a Mk.IX produced at Castle Bromwich.

This picture comes from the collection of Jim Tucker, who served with No.293 Squadron. Many thanks to his son-in-law Roger Bruton for sending us these pictures.


Recent Comments / Questions * hourly refresh

Hi Kevin, after researches, its confirmed that this Tony is not "my Antony". Thanks and bravo for your work ! M .

on: pilots, 2021-06-03 . details

MV239 markings

pitfire HF Mk.VIIIc MV239 (VH-HET). At Temora Aviation Museum in Temora, New South Wales. Flew with the RAAF as A58-758, it now wears the ma .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-22 . details

Tony ? which Tony ?

Dear Kevin, I'm in contact with the son of Tony Bryan. He thinks the man on my picture is not his father. Even the details are matching. I .

on: pilots, 2021-05-21 . details

Additional detail from 'WW2 in Colour' page

The EP751, one of the two Spiftire VBs converted in floatplane by Folland, after his arrival in Egypt. The only three Spit floatplanes, prot .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-20 . details

SM411

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe (Serial No. SM411), c/n CBAF.IX3495. This aircraft was assigned to RCAF No. 421 Sqn in 1944. It is curren .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-19 . details

Additional history

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. IXc (Serial No. JL361), A-CD (later FN-D/AH-D). This aircraft was the oldest of the Spitfires brought to Norway .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-19 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Hi Micka. It sounds like a really interesting story. I can't tell you much more than what's in the Operational Record Book which says (21st .

on: pilots, 2021-05-18 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Hello Kevin ! Regarding Anthony John Adrian Bryan, would you have more details ? Because Ive some for you ! .

on: members, 2021-05-18 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Anthony stayed months with my family close Saint André de l'Eure (Batigny). I do think the picture I've posted is the right one. None of .

on: pilots, 2021-05-18 . details

Thank you

Dear Kevin, Thank you for adding Blag (Blagdon Cecil Britton, 145 Squadron DAF)! I have only just found this site and now my spare time is .


116 combat missions and flown by two Aces, BR601 is arguably one of the most significant surviving Allied fighters in the world.

Surviving World War II aircraft are unique artifacts from a conflict that truly changed the world. How many are left? There are perhaps one hundred bombers remaining of the over one hundred thousand made by all nations. Approximately five hundred single engine fighters of the quarter million fighter and attack aircraft produced by all sides survive. Of these fighters, fewer than 10% are actual combat veterans. Most planes that remain are either training aircraft or had seen no use at all. Many brand new airplanes were cut up months after construction. A true Allied combat veteran aircraft is very rare, and Spitfire Mk. IX BR601, with its history of 116 combat missions, flown by two Aces, is arguably the most significant surviving Allied fighter aircraft in the world.

The early days of 1942 are hard to imagine. Japan was running unchecked through the Pacific in a new war against the United States. Great Britain was fighting for its very survival against Germany. The new Spitfire Mk. V (“Mark five”) had her late 1941 combat debut on the same day the Luftwaffe introduced the Fw 190. The superiority of the Fw 190 shook the RAF to its core as their “new” fighter was second best the day she was introduced. The Air Ministry took immediate steps to remedy the situation, introducing an experimental engine, the Rolls Royce Merlin Mk. 61. The two-stage supercharged engine had to be in front-line fighters as soon as possible. This program was so important that both Supermarine (the aircraft builder), and Rolls Royce were tasked to convert 50 of the new air-frames (Mk. Vb and Vc) to the interim Mk. IX standard. The immediate need for one hundred Mk. IX Spitfires was of the greatest importance. Painstakingly the larger, wider and different back end of the Merlin 61 engine was shoehorned into a new mount that would hold the fury of almost 1,600 horsepower. Ancillary systems were removed, modified or replaced and then refitted by hand. Radiators, coolers, lines and fittings all had to be replaced with larger parts to allow the full measure of the Merlin 61 to be unleashed. It must have been a thrilling time for those aircraftsmen working in secret on this new and improved Spitfire.

Within months the first aircraft, AB505, was completed and tested by the Air Fighting Development Unit. Immediately after completion pilots found the aircraft was significantly improved. The report read…

“The performance of the Spitfire IX is outstandingly better than the Spitfire V especially at heights above 20,000 feet. On the level the Spitfire is considerably faster and climb is exceptionally good. It will climb easily to 38,000 feet and when leveled off there can be made to climb in stages to above 40,000 feet by building up speed on the level and a slight zoom. Its maneuverability is as good as a Spitfire V up to 30,000 feet and above is very much better. At 38,000 feet it is capable of a true speed of 368 mph and is still able to maneuver well for fighting.”

“Outstandingly better!”
The excitement felt by those in the know would have been hard to contain. The first allotment must have been awaited by anxious fighter pilots looking to get even
for heavy losses. Each early Spitfire Mk. IX was a conversion from a new Mk. V. These hand built airplanes were the only chance to regain control of European skies.

It’s difficult to truly understand the significance of the Spitfire Mk. IX and BR601’s place in history without a look at what Fighter Command and the Air Ministry were seeing at that time. In Early 1941 the Spitfire V was being introduced. It enjoyed increases in armament, protection and performance. Expectations for the aircraft were high. So much so that when Rolls Royce let the Air Ministry know about the successful test of the new Merlin 61 during mid 1941 and the promise of its revolutionary new two-stage supercharger design, the Air Ministry was unimpressed. Their belief was that Rolls Royce’s new Griffon engine, developed from the type R motor of Supermarine S6B fame, would be on time to fly successfully in the near future and create the “Super Spitfire.” Further, the Mk. V was considered to be slightly better than the Me 109 currently being met over France and there was no reason to delay production of the Mk. V to test a new aircraft. The Air Ministry and Fighter Command were completely unprepared for the introduction of the Fw 190 in August 1941, when the new Mk. V and the radial engine fighter met, the Spitfire was clearly second rate.

Soon it was clear that control of the air over the continent had been lost. Like the Fokker scourge of World War I, the Spitfire Vs began falling in unprecedented numbers. After the Pearl Harbor attack and the American entry into what was now a worldwide conflict, the RAF knew it needed to find its own answer to the problem as incoming types of aircraft from the US were inferior to the Mk. V! Losses of over 300 Mark V Spitfires in the next few months caused Fighter Command to withdraw from the skies over France, and ultimately to prohibit RAF Spitfire operations unless they were “essential” for defense. The Air Ministry initiated the push to re-engine the Spitfire with the Merlin 61 and with data from a pair of Merlin 61 re-engined Spitfire IIa’s as a baseline, the “interim” Mk. IX was created. The importance of the Fighter Sweep on July 28 is not only that it was the first offensive RAF fighter sweep in many months, but if it had failed every other offensive air mission of the RAF was doomed until the advent of the Griffon Spitfire.

For BR601 to be a survivor of that historic mission, and extant today in her converted configuration, reminds us that for the previous 10 months the RAF was fighting a losing battle in the air. Those first Mk. IX Spitfires saved not only the lives of their pilots, but those of bomber crews and others who once again could operate with some protection over a hostile continent. However, the Mk. IX was only “as good” as the Fw 190, so it was a parity that saw fully half of the first hundred Spitfire IX’s listed as “failed to return”, and thirty percent more written off from “combat related damage” upon return.

Spitfire Mk. IX BR601 History –
Born into conflict as few aircraft are, the sixth Mk. IX conversion was BR601. Once completed, it flew for the first time on June 16th, 1942. BR601 was flown to 45 Maintenance Unit (MU) at RAF Kinloss, Scotland by a Polish female ATA ferry pilot. She served with the RAF’s Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Another Polish ATA pilot, Stefania“Barbara” Wojtulanis (picture left), flew BR601 from Scotland on July 9th to Hornchurch, a base 14 miles ENE of London, arriving on July 11th. (Picture on right shows Stefania preparing BR601 for the flight to 64 Sqn on June 17th) This Squadron would be the first to test the new fighter in combat. On July 28th, 1942, (three weeks before the first 8th AF mission) twelve new and secret Spitfire Mk. IX’s from 64 Squadron flew a Rodeo mission (fighter sweep over enemy territory) to Le Havre. This was to be the first combat mission ever for a Mk. IX Spitfires and the first of 116 for BR601. Two days later during a diversionary Rodeo to St. Omer at 11:40 am on July 30th, there was a Circus (bomber escort mission) over Abbeville, St. Omer, and Le Torquet. Sgt. Johnsen was flying BR601. Over the target they pounced on nine Fw190s. Just before engagement the controller radioed in and told them a Typhoon had been shot down and to make sure they were Fw 190s before engaging. At that point all the pilots erred on the side of caution and only F/Lt ‘Kingo’ Kingsby destroyed a Fw 190. Later, BR601 was being flown by P/O Withy and the mission was a Ramrod over Dunkirk, St. Omer and Calais. At 15,000ft over St. Omer the squadron saw fifteen Fw 190s below. Confident in their new aircraft, the eleven pilots of 64 Sqn pounced on the Fw 190s with some success. Five Fw 190s were destroyed with the corresponding loss of eight Spitfires. The Mk. IX went on to act as escort to 8th AF bombers at high altitude, and would fill that role in the pivotal early days of the air war.

October 11th, 1942, Tony Gaze (picture right) was piloting BR601 on a Rodeo mission to St. Omer when he came upon an Fw 190. Gaze said, “Bloody near rammed it! If I’d had a gun-camera it would probably have confirmed this as there were more than a dozen strikes on the wing roots and fuselage, but I broke away too sharply to watch it go down as his number two was too near for comfort.” In Gaze’s biography Almost Unknown he further explains, “As he had flown through the 190’s condensation trail his Spitfire was covered with ice. He was completely blinded, was on instruments and in enemy skies. For all Tony knew there could have been other 190s around him and he would have never known what had hit him if he was attacked. He climbed to 35,000 feet, weaving all the way and flew blind towards home before doing a fast and straight ‘downhill run’ until the ice melted. He says he had never been more frightened in his life.” Very bold words from a man who was shot down over Nazi Europe and escaped with the help of the underground! A bit of a reversal for the plane came on October 21st when BR601 departed Farlop heading for Bolt Head. At the controls was New Zealand’s highest scoring ace, S/Ldr Colin Gray. On landing, BR601 burst a tire, resulting in the wing striking the ground and the undercarriage collapsing. Damaged BR601 was listed as Cat B damage from a flying accident. Ironically this is the only time that BR601 sustained heavy damage, and it was not from combat!

On February 26th, 1943, she was sent to 39 MU at RAF Colerne in Wilshire to be stored and then prepared for reissue to a front line squadron. On April 2nd, BR601 was finally sent to her second assignment, 453Sqn, Royal Australian Air Force based at RAF Hornchurch. On April 4th, BR601 flew her first mission with 453 Sqn and remained there for a month. BR601 was moved to 129 Sqn on July 17th. Then she possibly went off for a major service or modification upgrades before being reassigned to 316 (Warszawski) Sqn on the August 28th. The plane was renamed as SZ-H. BR601 eventually ended up with 165 (Ceylon) Sqn in Stanton. 165 Sqn was detached to fly cover for damaged Allied aircraft and engage enemy fighters up through the end of 1943. By the end of BR601’s combat career, she had flown an incredible 116 combat missions! These missions included fifty-eight flying escort and fighter cover for B-17s, B-24s, B-26s and other bombers, fighter sweeps, strikes and even shipping protection. BR601 was just another Spitfire during 1945, albeit an early one with a life of hard use.

By war’s end an amazing 5,656 Mk. IX Spitfires had been produced, the greatest number of any one variant of the Spitfire. Total Spitfire production was over 20,000 aircraft. Interestingly, the fates of these first one hundred Spitfire IXs tells much about the hazards of being a front line fighter aircraft in 1942. Nearly ¾ of these planes were destroyed as a result of combat operation. Failed to Return from enemy territory, Fighter Operations: 48 aircraft, most lost during 1942-43. Category E damage, Fighter Operations: 23 aircraft, loss dates from 1942-1945. Unknown or lost during other operations: 5 aircraft. 24 aircraft remained. Late 1945, 11 were sold to other Air Forces and 13 scrapped postwar. BR601 was one of three sold to the South African AF and now the sole survivor of the original group of 100.

Post War Survival –
On October 11th, 1949, BR601 was allocated to the SAAF (South African Air Force) and was packaged up and shipped to South Africa. Two other survivors of the “first hundred”, BS125 and BS200, were shipped there as well. On March 13th, 1949, Spitfire IX BR601 arrived in South Africa and became 5631 of the South African Air Force. In 1952, BR601 was grounded and used as an instructional airframe. Sold for scrap on October 19th, 1955, she sat in a yard with the chunks of several others before being used as a pattern and parts source for the restoration of Spitfire MA793 (now in Brazil). As payment she was “restored” to static display and placed on a pole in the yard during 1976. Oddly, the early history of the Mk. IX was not appreciated at this point, as the plane was considered “just another Spitfire.” Removed from the yard in 1986, she was shipped to England and then auctioned and sold into further storage. Several museums and groups began to consider restoration of BR601, but the size and scope of the project caused the job to stagnate. In 2008, Jeff Thomas had BR601 transported to New Zealand to finally begin restoration to airworthiness. Soon after, Peter Monk took over the project with Avspecs Ltd. in Ardmore, New Zealand.

Now, 72 years since BR601 was manufactured, and with her true place in history appreciated, this legendary British fighter aircraft has landed in the care of the Collings Foundation. This Spitfire was transported back to England in early 2014. Biggin Hill Heritage has taken on the task of finishing the last phase of restoration. We hope this iconic fighter will take to the skies again in 2016 and join the Collings Foundation’s flying collection in the United States. Restoring this incredible aircraft to flying condition preserves the memories and legacy of our allied forces in an air-frame that was actually there at a pivotal moment in history.

Aces who flew Mk. IX BR601 –

Tony Gaze flew BR601 when he commanded No. 64 Squadron RAF. Frederick Anthony Owen “Tony” Gaze received a DFC & Two Bars, and was a decorated Australian World War II flying ace credited with 12.5 confirmed victories (11 plus 3 shared). After the war he went on to become one of the best-known race car drivers and Australia’s first Formula One driver.

Tony won his first Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for shooting down 2 Messerschmitt 109s with 610 Squadron during a dogfight on July 10th, 1941. Tony flew with 616 Squadron until the August 29th, 1942, by which time he had destroyed at least 4 enemy planes.

Tony became Commanding Officer of 64 Squadron RAF where he was assigned to BR601. On Saint Valentine’s day 1945, Tony became the first Australian pilot to shoot down a German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. Tony scored several more victories before he was shot down over Le Tréport after downing a FockeWulf 190. Gaze crash-landed 20 miles from Dieppe with slight injuries. He evaded capture and made his way, with help from the French Resistance, to neutral Spain.

After the war, Tony became the first Australian to drive in a World Championship motor race when he competed in the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix. He went on to participate in four World Championship Grand Prix, numerous non-championship Formula 2 races across Europe, and competed in the Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix in the early 1950s.

Colin Falkland Gray was the top New Zealand fighter ace of WWII (picture on right.) Colin flew BR601 when he was Squadron Leader of No. 64 Squadron in September 1942. During the “Battle of Britain” Colin shot down 14 aircraft and had a half share in another by September 1940. He later added another 13 kills while leading fighter squadrons and wings in the North African and Italian Campaigns, finishing the war with an incredible confirmed 27½ kills.

*The Spitfire is currently being operated out of Worcester airport in Massachusetts. Check our website or call for schedule of operation.


Contents

Below is the list of surviving Spitfires and Seafires, organised by where they are based in the world and the condition that they are in. Airworthy denotes the aircraft currently flying with museums or private owners. Static Display denotes aircraft on display at a museum or other public location. Restoration and Stored denote aircraft undergoing restoration for static or airworthy display, or aircraft in storage possibly awaiting restoration for display.

Totals
Condition as stated below Number listed below
Airworthy 70
Static Display 65
Restoration / Stored 63
Total 198

  • Spitfire HF Mk.VIIIc MV239 (VH-HET). At Temora Aviation Museum in Temora, New South Wales. Flew with the RAAF as A58-758, it now wears the markings of the mount of Robert 'Bobby' Gibbes DSO DFC as A58-602, RG-V (RAF serial MV133). Gibbes was Wing Commander 80 Wing RAAF, Morotai, 1945. [3][4] Ownership was transferred to the RAAF in July 2019 and it is operated by the Air Force Heritage Squadron (Temora Historic Flight). [5]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe PL344. Served with 602 Squadron, 442 Squadron and 401 Squadron during the war then 130 Squadron and finally No. 129 Squadron RAF before suffering a wheels-up landing in 1946. Rebuilt to airworthy condition in 1991 with the registration G-CCIX. Kermit Weeks acquired the Spitfire in 1992 and was rebuilt again to near-original condition. Completed in 2000 and registered as N644TB [6] as a birthday gift for Tom Blair from his wife, Alice Blair, who bought it from Kermit Weeks. Airworthy until it was exported to the UK in 2007. Rebuilt for a third time including the fitting of fuel tanks in the wings before a post-rebuild first flight in 2007. Returned to America some time after, [7] UK registration was cancelled in September 2020 with the reason listed by the CAA as "Exported to Australia". [8]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TB863 (VH-XVI). At Temora Aviation Museum in Temora, New South Wales. It wears 453 Squadron RAAF codes FU-P, which it wore in the UK during 1945. [9] Ownership was transferred to the RAAF in July 2019 and it is operated by the Air Force Heritage Squadron (Temora Historic Flight). [5]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE392 (VH-RAF). Owned by Fighter Pilot Adventure Flights in Australia. Was a gate guard at a number of RAF airfields, including RAF Kemble and RAF Hereford, between 1952 and 1984. Originally built as a low-back airframe with a 'bubble' canopy, it was restored into high-back configuration and flew again in Florida on 24 December 1999 with the FAA register N97RW. [10] It was owned by the Lone Star Flight Museum (LSFM) in Galveston, Texas and was in storage following damage sustained during Hurricane Ike. [11] It wore the markings and colours ZX-Z to represent the aircraft of Sqn Ldr Lance C. WadeNo. 145 Squadron RAF, a Texan who flew with the RAF from 1940 to 1944 and went on to become an ace. [12] The FAA tail number was cancelled on 19 December 2018 and was sold to Fighter Pilot Adventure Flights in Australia who restored the aircraft back to airworthy condition. [13] It made its first post-restoration flight on 13 January 2020 registered as VH-XWE (now VH-RAF), and now flies in their 'Fly with a Spitfire' event once a month. [14]
  • Spitfire Mk.IIa P7973. This Spitfire was flown on 24 operations by several Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons in 1941. Assigned to No. 452 Sqn (RAAF) (RAF Kenley and RAF Hornchurch), it was flown by a number of pilots, including Australian pilot Keith "Bluey" Truscott. In July 1945 it was shipped to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia for display. The aircraft has not been repainted since WWII and bears the markings of the RAF's Central Gunnery School (coded R-H). One of the few Spitfires still in its original paint, it has been displayed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra since 1950. [15]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc/Trop BS231. Partial airframe on display at the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, Darwin, Northern Territory. Former Australian Spitfire A58-92 was recovered in 1983 at low-tide from wartime water crash-site, Point Charles NT. Display incorporates parts from both BS178 / A58-70 & JG731 / A58-172. [8][16]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc/Trop EE853. Displayed at the South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide, South Australia. This aircraft was manufactured in 1942 by Westlands in the UK. It was shipped to Australia as A58-146 and became part of No. 79 Squadron RAAF at Milne Bay. On 28 August 1943, it crashed on Kiriwina Island and was transported back to Goodenough Island. In 1971 Langdon Badger found the aircraft and in 1973 he had it shipped to Adelaide. After four years of restoration at Parafield Airport, Langdon displayed the Spitfire at his Adelaide home. In August 2001 the aircraft was put on display in the museum. [17]
  • Spitfire F Mk.22 PK481. Displayed at the RAAF Association Aviation Heritage Museum, Bull Creek, Western Australia. The aircraft was acquired from the Brighton & Hove Branch of the Royal Air Force Association in the UK in 1959 and was initially displayed outside on a pole before being brought into the museum and refurbished in 1977. [18]
  • Spitfire F Mk. Ia X4009 (G-EMET). Under restoration to fly by Ross Pay. It was built in 1940 and was sent to No. 234 Squadron RAF on 18 August 1940 as AZ-Q. It was flown by Paterson Clarence HughesDFC , who was credited with 9 kills and 1 probable in X4009. He was killed in this aircraft while attacking a Dornier Do 17 and unsuccessfully bailing out on 7 September 1940. The remains were recovered years after and was later on registered G-EMET. Ross Pay acquired the aircraft wreckage in 2021 to restore to airworthiness in Australia [19]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc/Trop BR545. Owned by the Royal Australian Air Force Museum and in storage at Point Cook, Victoria. Served with the RAAF as A58-51. Former No. 54 Squadron RAF machine, marked DL-E. Force landed on mudflats at low tide, Prince Regent River, near Truscott WA 22 December 1943. The wreck was recovered by the RAAF Museum in November 1987. Merlin engine and sections of airframe recovered. [8][16]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc/Trop BS164 (VH-CIP). Under restoration by Vintage Fighter Restorations. Delivered to the RAAF as A58-63 with No. 54 Squadron RAF in Australia in 1942 as DL-K before being wrecked in a collision with Spitfire LZ845/A58-214 in 1944 while in service with No. 452 Squadron RAAF. The wreckage was recovered in 1975 and later acquired by Peter Croser and Michael Aitchison in 1982 before Michael G. Aitchison solely acquiring it in 2008, who had it registered as VH-CIP. Ross Pay of Vintage Fighter Restorations acquired the wreckage in 2019, who is restoring it to airworthy condition. [20]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc/Trop MA353 (VH-CIQ). Under restoration by Vintage Fighter Restorations. Delivered to the RAAF as A58-232 with No. 54 Squadron RAF as DL-A before joining No. 452 Squadron RAAF as QY-Z. The aircraft disappeared in 1944 during operations which took the life of its pilot, Sergeant Colin William Dunning. The aircraft was found in 1946, which was when the pilot's remains were recovered from the wreck and buried. The aircraft was recovered in 1969, with the fuselage going to John Haslett while the Merlin engine and wings were put on display at the Darwin Air Museum. The wreckage eventually came together in the hands of Peter Croser and Michael Aitchison from Melbourne in 1982 before becoming Michael Aitchison's sole ownership in 2006, being registered as VH-CIQ. Vintage Fighter Restorations later acquired the wreck in 2019 [20]
  • Spitfire F Mk.IX MH603 (VH-IXF). Owned by Ross Pay (son of Col Pay) and registered to Pay's Air Service Pty Ltd. Ex. South African Air Force machine MH603 is under active restoration to airworthy condition at Scone, NSW. When completed the Spitfire will wear 331 (Norwegian) Squadron colours as based at North Weald (UK) in early 1944. [21][22]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXb MJ789. Owned by the Royal Australian Air Force Museum and in storage at Point Cook, Victoria. Ex. 453 (RAAF) Sqn machine, wore the markings MJ789 / FU-B. Crashed in River Orne, near Caen, France on 11 June 1944 as a result of anti-aircraft fire, claiming the life of pilot Flight Lieutenant Henry 'Lacy' Smith. Both F/L Smith and MJ789 were recovered from the riverbed in November 2010. Subsequently, F/L Smith was buried with full military honours in Normandy and the wreckage of MJ789 was transferred to the RAAF Museum and transported to Australia for conservation with a view to eventual display. [23]
  • Seafire F Mk.XV SW800 (VH-CIH). In storage, Adelaide area, South Australia. Recovered from Brownhills scrapyard in the UK circa 1991, and shipped to Melbourne VIC. [8]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe SL721 (OO-XVI). Owned by Vintage Fighter Aircraft. Refinished in the markings of AU-J from No. 421 Squadron RCAF and was part of the Gatineau, Quebec based Vintage Wings of Canada's collection, registered as C-GVZB. [24] It was sold to Vintage Fighter Aircraft in Belgium [25] in airworthy condition and is registered as OO-XVI. [26]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe MJ783. Served in Belgium as SM-15. Painted as MJ360 / GE-B from Royal Air Force349th (Belgian) Squadron, on display at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels . [27]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XIVc MV246. on display at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels . Delivered to the Belgium Air Force with the Belgium tail number SG-55. Restored in 1951 with parts from other written-off Belgian Spitfires and displayed with the squadron codes GE-R. [28]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XIVc RM921. on display at the Musee Spitfire in Florennes. Delivered to the Belgium Air Force with the tail number SG-57 in August 1948. Written off in a taxiing accident after a partial landing gear collapse in November 1951. Used as a gatekeeper at the Florennes Air Base, mounted on a pole. Restored to static display between 1987 & 1992, displayed as TX995 / RL-D, the personal plane of Raymond Lallemant, though the original TX995 had a bubble canopy. [29]
  • Spitfire HF Mk.IXe MA793. In storage after display at Wings of Dreams Museum. MA793 served with the USAAF (believed to be the only surviving Spitfire to have done so) in 1943 before joining the SAAF with the serial 5601 in 1948. It became part of a playground in 1954 at a children's hospital in Pretoria until 1967. The aircraft was rebuilt in the markings of PT672, another SAAF Spitfire. The aircraft was regularly flown at airshows around South Africa until it was sold to a purchaser in California in 1986 with the register N930BL, and repainted as EN398, codes JE-J, one of Johnnie Johnson's Spitfires. In 1999, it became the possession of Rolls Royce who sold it to the TAM/Wings of Dreams at São Carlos International Airport in Brazil for public display. [30] The Museum closed in 2016 with plans announced in 2018 to have a new location for the museum at São José dos Campos Airport, near the Embraer plant. [31]
  • Spitfire HF Mk.IXe TE294 (C-GYQQ). Previously under restoration to flying condition at Comox, British Columbia, for Vintage Wings of Canada, it arrived at their main base at Gatineau, Quebec in late September 2014 for continued restoration back to airworthy condition. Finished to represent MK304, codes Y2-K. First flight after restoration took place at Gatineau, Quebec, 7 June 2017. [32]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XIVe TZ138 (C-GSPT). Was built early 1945 and served in the RAF before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force later that year for cold weather tests, even at one point fitted with skis that came off a Tiger Moth. [33] After military retirement, it was exported and registered in the United States with various registrations and participating in many air races. By the 1970s it became a restoration project and was rebuilt to airworthy condition in the US in 1999 before being exported to Canada with the registration C-GSPT. [34]
  • Spitfire F Mk.IIb P8332. Battle of Britain veteran, on display at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa. It wears the markings and codes P8332 / ZD-L of 222 Sqn to replicate the scheme it wore when serving with the Squadron during 1941. Presentation aircraft, "SOEBANG N.E.I.", funded by the Netherlands East Indies. [35]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXc NH188. Served with the Royal Netherlands Air Force as H-109 (later H-64) from 1947 to 1952 and with the Belgian Air Force as SM-39 from 1952 to 1954. Privately owned, it was flown in Belgium as OO-ARC and was later imported to Canada where it flew as CF-NUS. After being donated on 7 June 1964, it is now on display in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Rockcliffe, Ontario as NH188 / AU-H. [36]
  • Spitfire Mk.XVIe TE214. On display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, in Mount Hope Ontario, on loan from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. It was built by Vickers at Castle Bromwich, UK, in 1945 and it flew post-war with RAF No. 203 Advanced Flying School until it was damaged in an accident. The British Air Ministry presented it to the RCAF in 1960 and it was transferred it to the Canadian Aeronautical Collection, now the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in 1966. [37]
  • Seafire F Mk.XV PR451. On display at The Military Museums, Alberta, Calgary. It was delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1946 and was struck off charge in 1949. In the 1980s, PR451 was restored for static display at Naval Museum Of Alberta, Alberta, Canada. Now the museum is known as The Military Museums[38]
  • Spitfire F Mk.XIVe RM747[39] In storage at Vintage Wings of Canada, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. RM747 served with No.322 (Dutch) Sqdn, No.350 (Belgian) Sqdn, No.451 (Australian) Sqdn, before serving with the Royal Thai Air Force as serial number Kh.14-5/93. During the 1980s it was part of a playground at Sawankalok, Thailand. [40]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE330. Displayed at the China Aviation Museum, Datangshan. Acquired in 2008 from New Zealand where it underwent restoration to static display condition by the Subritzky family of North Shore and sold to China via auction. [41]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXE TE565. Served with No. 310 (Czech) Squadron as A-712. Transferred to Czech Air Force in 1945 and put on display in the National Technical Museum from 1950 to 1970 when it was loaned to the Kbely Aviation Museum. In 2008 it was moved back to the National Technical Museum and put on static display as TE565 / NN-N. [42]
  • Spitfire Mk.IX MJ271 (G-IRTY) Built in 1943 at Castle Bromwich and flew 51 combat missions. Restored as 'The Silver Spitfire' by Historic Flying Limited, the first post-restoration flight took place in late June 2019 at Duxford. Finished in polished aluminium, the owners, Boultbee Flight Academy, circumnavigated the world in the aircraft. [43]
  • Spitfire HF Mk.IXe MA298. After the German occupation, the Royal Danish Air Force acquired 38 HF Mk.IXe and 3 PR Mk.XI Spitfire aircraft. The Spitfires were phased out and replaced by jets between 1951 and 1955. All but two were scrapped. For a number of years, one was placed in a children's playground. MA298 is the last of the Danish Spitfires to survive, it was delivered to the Danish Air Force in 1947 and was refurbished for display at the Danmarks Flymuseumz, Stauning Airport after it was retired. [44][45] The aircraft carries the markings of 41-401, which was originally carried by NH417. [46]
  • Spitfire F Mk. Vc Trop BR491. BR491 served with 92 Squadron and crashed in 1942 in Alexandria, Egypt with the loss of its pilot, Warrant Officer Class I Lloyd George Edwards. The aircraft was recovered in 1999 by the El Alamein Military Museum and put on display in 2001 without the rear tail (presumably deteriorated away while underwater). [47][48]
  • Spitfire PR.XIX PS890 (F-AZJS). Entered service 1945. To Royal Thai Air Force as U14-26/97, in service until 1952. Donated to Planes of Fame Air Museum in 1962. Restored to airworthy condition in 2002 as N219AM. Sold to French owner in 2005, re-registered F-AZJS. [49] Damaged in a take-off accident at Longuyon-Villette Airfield, Meurthe-et-Moselle on 11 June 2017. Currently at Duxford, UK, under restoration to flight. [50] The Spitfire was rebuilt and flew again on 6 August 2020. [51]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe RR263. Built in 1944 and delivered to the RAF that year with 2nd Tactical Air Force. The Spitfire was loaned to Vickers Supermarine for experimental reasons in 1949 before moving to storage. Used as a static backdrop for the Reach for the Sky movie and later was on a plinth at RAF Kenley as TB597, codes GW-B. Later overhauled and repainted again as TB597 as GW-B before being put on display at Musée de l'Air, Le Bourget. [52]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe SM845 (G-BUOS). Imported from Sweden in 2012 following a fatal incident on 21 August 2010, it flew once again at Duxford on 17 December 2013. Owned by Spitfire Ltd and operated from both Duxford and Humberside. It wears the markings of Post-War (July 1950) 28 Squadron based in Hong Kong of overall silver with a red spinner and coded SM845 / -R. [53][54] SM845 was flown to its new home in Germany with Meier Motors in December 2020. [55]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe TP280 (D-FSPT). Airworthy with the Hangar 10 Collection. Delivered to India as HS654 in 1947 and brought back as a hulk in the 1970s. It was rebuilt to airworthy condition in 1992 with the UK registration of G-BTXE before being sent to the United States later that year as N280TP. In 2015 it was acquired by the Hangar 10 Collection in Germany as D-FSPT. [56]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XIVe MV370. On display at the Luftfahrtmuseum, Hannover. Ex-Indian Air Force instructional airframe (marked T.44), wears the codes MV370, codes EB-Q to represent a machine from No. 41 Squadron RAF. [57]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXc MJ755 (G-CLGS). Built at the Castle Bromwich factory and delivered to No. 43 Squadron RAF in August 1944, which at the time was covering operations in Southern France. In 1947 it was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Air Force and later retired to The Hellenic Air Force Museum. [58] In 2018, the aircraft went to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar in the UK to be restored to fly. [59] The Spitfire made its first flight after restoration on 19 January 2020. [60] Over the course of 25 to 27 May 2021, MJ755 was ferried via France and Italy back to Tatoi, Greece, where it was previously displayed. [61]
  • Spitfire Mk.VIII - MV459. On display at the Ambala Air Force Station. [62]
  • Spitfire LF Mk. VIIIc NH631. On display at RIAF Museum Palam. It was delivered to the Royal Indian Air Force in 1945 and was airworthy with the Air Museum in India from the 1960s until they stopped flying it in 1989. Plans were announced in 2018 for it to be restored to flying condition by an external company. [63]
  • Spitfire F Mk.XVIIIe - SM986. Former Indian Air Force with the serial HS986. On display at the Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, New Delhi. [64]
  • Spitfire F Mk. XVIII TZ219. Delivered to the Indian Air Force in 1947 as HS683 and was retired in 1962 and became an instructional airframe. It was brought into the ownership of the Indian Air Force Museum in 2019. The plan is for it to be on static display, but an airworthy restoration is possible. [8][65]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe TE554. The Black Spitfire, and former Israeli Air Force20-57. The personal mount of former Israeli Air Force Chief of Staff and president Ezer Weizman, it is used for ceremonial flying displays and based at the Israeli Air Force Museum in Hatzerim. [66][67]
  • Spitfire F Mk.IXe EN145. Built at Chattis Hill, it first flew in 1942 and was delivered to the USAAF in 1943. [68] It was later delivered to the Italian Air Force in 1946 as MM4116 before being delivered to the Israeli Air Force as 20-78. EN145 was acquired by the IDFAF Museum in 1990 and has been on display ever since. [69]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe SL653. Delivered to the Czechoslovakian Air Force before being delivered to the Israeli Air Force as 20-28. It was later acquired by the IDFAF Museum in 1973 where it is on display. [8] This Spitfire was once believed to have been TE578 (it has parts from TE578), but it was confirmed later on during restoration through parts with stencils: 425 (it was given the Burmese number UB425, but never left Israel and the number went to SL633) and the number "28" from the IDFAF 20-28 that it actually is SL653. [70]
  • Spitfire F Mk.IXe EN199. On display at the Malta Aviation Museum, Ta Qali, Malta. First flown at Eastleigh on 28 November 1942. The aircraft was restored by Ray Polidano, the Museum's Director, in 1992. The aircraft is named 'Mary Rose' in honour of Ray Polidano's wife and carries the code R-B in memory of the highest-ranking officer who flew it - Wing Commander Ronald Berry D.F.C. [72]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe TE513. Burmese number UB421. On external display at the newly opened (2016) Defence Services Museum which is North-East of Myanmar's capital city, Naypyidaw, in the Zeyathiri Township. [73]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe TE527. Burmese number UB431. Rear fuselage and tail-section suspected to be from this aircraft on display within the newly opened Defence Services Museum on the outskirts of Naypyidaw. [73]
  • Seafire F Mk.XV PR376. Burmese number UB409. On external display at the newly opened (2016) Defence Services Museum on the outskirts of Naypyidaw. [73]

In 2012 a great deal of media attention was given to rumours that the RAF had buried a number of Spitfire Mk.XIV aircraft in Burma, unassembled and in their packing crates, during August 1945. However, no documentary or other evidence has been uncovered that this actually happened and some have dismissed the whole story as implausible, including military archaeologist Andy Brockman [74]

During April 2012 the UK government announced they were working with the post-junta Burmese government to locate and potentially return a total of 20 aircraft to flying condition. On 16 October 2012, the Burmese government signed an agreement with David Cundall, a British farmer and aviation enthusiast who was leading the search along with his Burmese business partner Htoo Htoo Zaw, allowing them to begin excavations. [75]

Leeds University experts, and an academic from Rangoon, used sophisticated geophysical techniques to produce evidence consistent with buried metal at what is now Yangon International Airport, the former RAF Mingaladon airfield. In addition to the 20 aircraft thought to be at this site, other sites with buried Spitfires were claimed, one with as many as 36 aircraft interred. [76] [77]

In January 2013, following investigations at both Yangon International Airport and Myitkyina, archaeologists led by Andy Brockman concluded that there were no aircraft buried at the sites. [78] Despite this, David Cundall continued his search. [79] However, on 16 February of the same year, it was reported that Cundall's sponsors, Wargaming Ltd, no longer believed any Spitfires were ever buried and that any aircraft in the area had been re-exported in 1946. The search was called off. [80] Despite the withdrawal of the major sponsor, David Cundall said at that time that he remained confident and the search would continue. [81]

  • Spitfire LF Mk IXc MK732 (PH-OUQ). Operated by The Historic Flight of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht) and based at Gilze-Rijen. Built in 1943, it saw action during D-Day. Following the restoration to flight, it initially carried the air force (Klu) markings H-25. Following this it was painted in the scheme it wore when serving with No. 485 Squadron RNZAF as OU-U, named 'Baby Bea V', but now wears an all-over silver scheme 3W-17 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. [82]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TB885 (PH-FVE). Ex 322 (Dutch) Squadron. Cut into sections and buried at RAF Kenley in 1958. Salvaged 1982. Restored to airworthy status by The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill). Returned to the air on 4 August 2018. Now wearing original markings of 3W-V of 322Sqn, she is owned by Dutchman Frits van Eerd, CEO of Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo, who intends to base it with the RNLAF Historical Flight at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. [83][84] The Spitfire is now registered in the Netherlands as PH-FVE [85]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXc MJ143. On display at the newly opened National Military Museum sited on the former Royal Netherlands Air Force Base at Soesterberg. Previously in storage after being on display for many years at the now closed Militaire Luchtvaart Museum also at Soesterberg. Displayed as H-1, Royal Netherlands Air Force. [86]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe TP263, Displayed at the National War & Resistance Museum, Overloon. Ex-Indian Air Force HS649, rebuilt to represent a Mk.XIVc. Wears the spurious serial NH649, with the codes 3W-F of No.322 (Dutch) Squadron. [87]
  • Spitfire Tr.9 MH367 (ZK-WDQ). Owned by aerobatic pilot Doug Brooker and arrived in New Zealand on 11 September 2008. It wears RAF desert colours with the markings of FL-A, a Mk IX EN520 flown by the New Zealand Squadron Leader Colin Gray, C/O of 81 Squadron when based in Tunisia in mid-1943. [88] On 15 January 2009, during a transit flight from Auckland, the Spitfire suffered a heavy forced landing on Hood Aerodrome, near Masterton. The propeller, undercarriage and some fuel lines were damaged but the aircraft was repaired. [89] A second landing accident at Ardmore Airport on 2 December 2009 resulted in damage to the undercarriage and propeller. [90] On 12 June 2011 the aircraft suffered yet another landing accident, this time tipping onto its nose after landing at Ardmore, damaging the propeller [91]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXc PV270 (ZK-SPI). Owned by businessman Brendon Deere and restored to an airworthy condition over five years at Feilding, New Zealand, it flew again on 18 March 2009. [92] The aircraft is based in a purpose-built hangar at RNZAF Base Ohakea along with Brendon Deere's North American Harvard. [93]
  • Spitfire FR Mk.XIVe NH799 (ZK-XIV). Owned by 'The Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection' and based at Omaka airfield, New Zealand. Post restoration first flight 2 April 2015, with John Lamont at the controls. Purchased by the Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection, who are based at Omaka, in 2010. Restored to airworthy condition by Avspecs Limited at Ardmore Airport, Auckland. [94]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE288. Taken on charge by the RAF on 1 June 1945, the aircraft served with 61 OTU, 501 Squadron RAuxAF (coded RAB-D), and 102 and 103 Fighter Refresher Schools, until placed into storage in 1951. Also used as a prop in the movie "Reach for the Sky", it then spent time as a gate guard at RAF Rufforth, Church Fenton and finally Dishforth, before it was sold in 1963 to Canterbury Brevet Club, Christchurch, New Zealand. For many years it was mounted on a pole near the entrance to Christchurch International Airport. In 1984 it was donated to the RNZAF Museum and was restored by RNZAF staff at RNZAF Woodbourne. It is displayed at Wigram, without the serial number, as OU-V of 485 Squadron. [95]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE456. Taken on charge by the RAF on 8 August 1945, the aircraft initially went into storage at 6 MU at Brize Norton. It was issued to 501 RAuxAF Squadron at Filton in March 1946 (coded RAB-J), and then to 612 RAuxAF Squadron at Dyce in May 1949, coded 8W-?. In August 1955 it was used in the movie Reach for the Sky. It has been on static display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand, since 1956 when New Zealander Sir Keith Park, wartime commander of No 11 Fighter Group, arranged for it to be donated. [96]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe RW386 (LN-BSP). Built and delivered to 604 Squadron as NG-D but quickly was removed from service and became a gate guard. Restoration began in 1992 and after a halt, its restoration continued in 2002 with a new owner and was rebuilt to flight in 2007 wearing the original 604 Squadron markings. Initially flying with the register of G-BXVI, it was registered SE-BIR when it was exported to Sweden. [97] In 2020, the owner, Biltema Nordic Services, moved to Norway and the aircraft was subsequently re-registered as LN-BSP. [98]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IXe MH350. On display at the Norwegian Aviation Museum (Norsk Luftfartsmuseum), Bodø. [99]
  • Spitfire PR Mk.XI PL979. On display at the Norwegian Armed Forces Aircraft Collection, Gardermoen, Oslo. [100]
  • Spitfire Mk IX, MJ785, Ex Royal Norwegian Air Force, crashed in the summer of 1945. Under consideration for restoration to flying condition for Norwegian Flying Aces. [101]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.IX MK997. Ex Royal Norwegian Air Force, which crashed into Samsjøen Lake in August 1950, killing the pilot. Wreckage raised on 13 August 2018. To be restored to flying condition for Norwegian Flying Aces. [101]
  • Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe SM411. Assigned to RCAF 421 Sqn in 1944. On display in the Polish Aviation Museum, Kraków. [102] It wears the spurious markings TB995 / ZF-O of 308 (City of Kraków) Sqn RAF. In 1977, this aircraft was sent from the United Kingdom to Poland as part of an exchange between the Polish Aviation Museum and the Royal Air Force Museum. It was swapped for a World War I Airco DH.9A bomber, the only survivor of its type, which is now on display at the Royal Air Force Museum London. Difficulties caused by the then ongoing Cold War meant nearly nine years were spent negotiating the swap. [103]
  • Spitfire HF Mk.IXc ML255. Delivered to the South African Air Force in 1948. After being damaged in a collision at AFB Ysterplaat, it ended up derelict in Snake Valley, Pretoria until it was recovered and restored to static display for the SAAF Museum. It was later transferred to the Museu do Ar, at Sintra in Portugal, wearing the Portuguese Air Force markings ML255 / MR+Z. [104]
  • Spitfire F Mk.Vc Trop JK808, ser.no. 17-545, [105] While others were scrapped or turned into instructional airframes, 9489 (ex JK808) was handed over to Military Museum in Belgrade. It was put on static display first at Kalemegdan (Belgrade fortress) as a part of the outdoor museum exhibition. There it received a new coat of paint and an incorrect YAF number 9486. After that it was displayed at Belgrade International Airport, as a part of Belgrade Museum of Aviation exhibition, in a purely fictional paint scheme and markings. [106] This caused confusion about aircraft true identity. Spitfire with YAF number 9486 was ex-RAF MH592, which ended as instructional airframe at Rajlovac Air Force Technical Training Center. [106] Aircraft 9489 (JK808) was thoroughly restored during 1973 by Tehnička direkcija JAT ( JAT Tehnika ) at Belgrade International Airport. After detailed investigation and several paint schemes applied (JK448 code name "W" notably) the true identity of this aircraft was confirmed, based on serial numbers found and archive material as JK808, airframe s/n 17-545, built at Castle Bromwich. [105] An article about restoration and the search for true identity was published in 2004. [107]

Aircraft on display contains several non-original parts: engine from another aircraft, Soviet-made camera, landing gear parts, re-manufactured instrument panel, standard RAF instruments and other parts from YAF or JAT stocks. [106]


Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron - History

Your 'Spitfires' in Action - Thank You, Leeward Islands!© IWM (Art.IWM PST 8261)

The Spitfire would of course would become the design most associated with R.J. Mitchell but the design and initial production period were far from successful or straight forward compared with its later legendary following of pilots and public alike. The origins began with the Type 224 of 1931, unfortunately it lacked the streamlined presence of the Schneider Trophy seaplanes and struggled to achieve the performance parameters set by the Air Ministry. After the aircraft&rsquos rejection in 1934, Mitchell and his team revised the designed under the designation Type 300 which would result in a whole Ministry specification based around it and become known as the Spitfire. The prototype K5054 took off for the first time from Eastleigh on 5 March 1936 under the control of Chief Test Pilot (Mutt) Summers. Both performance and production would remain troublesome up until the Battle of Britain but its advanced features meant that it could be continuously improved during the War to counter competition from Luftwaffe fighters. It should also be remembered that Mitchell was diagnosed with cancer in 1933 and was in considerable pain up until his death on 11 June 1937.

The Battle of Britain would become the engagement that would solidify the iconic name, mythology and depiction of the Spitfire in the public imagination. Its speed and manoeuvrability enabled the aircraft to gain the upper hand with the Luftwaffe Me 109 and in combination with the Hurricane, radar and defence system won the Battle and laid the seeds for the future Allied victory. The Spitfire Fund was widely donated to by the British public and from around the world and films such as the First of the Few and Battle of Britain cemented its reputation as a war winning weapon.


By RKO Radio Pictures - Source, Public Domain, Link

The Mk IV would be the first Spitfire to be installed with the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine. It didn&rsquot go into full production but rather served as a development aircraft to sort out the airframe changes required to incorporate the additional weight and power of the new engine. The prototype first flew on 27 November 1941. The Mk V started operational service from early 1941 and were mostly constructed at Castle Bromwich. The Mk Va again was fitted with eight Browning machine guns. The Vb version once again incorporated two Hispano cannons and four Browning machine guns. As a result of the introduction of the FW 190 in August 1941, the Vb had the option of clipped wings to improve speed and handling at lower altitudes. The Mk Vc incorporated the universal wing which allowed a number of permutations in armaments to be carried in the wing and was also easier to manufacture. These versions of the Mk V included a Vokes air filter under the nose of the aircraft and many had a modified air filter which was more streamlined compared with the standard Vokes. Mk Vb and Vc (Trop), these were required for operation in North Africa, Middle East, Far East and Australia to cope with climatic and ground conditions associated with these areas. The mark of Spitfire would also be connected with the defence of Malta from the Italian and German air attack and represented in the film Malta Story.

The Spitfire Mk IX, an interim mark designed to counter the FW 190 in 1942, it actually became the most produced version of the Spitfire. The use of the two stage supercharger provided a quantum leap in performance particularly over 20,000ft and provided effective opposition to the latest German fighter. Almost identical to the Mk IX but utilised the Merlin 266 produced by Packard in America. All these aircraft were used for low altitude roles and featured clipped wings.

PR IX and FR IX aircraft were modified Mk IXs created as an interim measure before the introduction of the PR XI. They were involved in reconnaissance missions that included Operation Chastise and Market Garden, capturing seminal images of these iconic events. The Type 387 as the PR X was an amalgam of a Mk VII airframe and PR XI wings, with the pressurised cockpit it could sustain heights of 40,000ft for photographic sorties. It operated in small numbers from May 1944 and led to the ultimate Spitfire photo reconnaissance Mk XIX. Types 365 and 370 (tropicalised) as the PR XI were an amalgamation of the Mks VII, VIII and IX. Produced from 1942 it was designed for tactical reconnaissance but could climb high to avoid enemy fighters but did not have a pressurised cockpit. PR XIII, photographic version created for low level sorties ahead of the D-Day invasion in 1944, including an armament of four Browning machine guns. Camera equipment fitted included one oblique F24 and two vertical F24s all in the fuselage. The Mk XIX became the ultimate photographic reconnaissance version of the Spitfire which incorporated a pressurised cockpit and the Mk XIV Griffon engine. It entered operational service in May 1944 and would only retire from frontline service with the RAF until April 1954.

Spitfire MK XIV, incorporated the two stage super charged Griffon engine which substantially improved performance at high altitudes but required considerable airframe changes to cope with the weight and power of the new engine. This included more fuel storage to deal with the higher fuel consumption, five blade propeller and greater cooling facilities. This mark of Spitfire would destroy more V-1s than any other Spitfire and German fighters avoided combat with it due to its performance. 610 Squadron was the first to operate the aircraft from December 1943.

Marks 21, 22 and 24, In order for the Spitfire to handle the increased power of the two stage supercharged Griffon engine, the wings were entirely re-designed and could handle speeds approaching the speed of sound. The first prototype first flew in July 1943 and the production example in March 1944. Initially it suffered from handling problems but these were smoothed out and entered squadron service in January 1945, fitted with four Hispano cannons. Mark 22 aircraft had the tear drop canopy and cut down rear fuselage. Only one regular squadron of the RAF operated the aircraft but did serve in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force until 1951. Mark 24, largely identical to the Spitfire 22 it had increased fuel capacity and had the ability to carry rocket projectiles and bomb armaments. Operational from 1946 and continued with the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force until 1955. It was twice as heavy and had twice the performance of the original Spitfire and represented the ultimate mark of this pedigree.

The success and affection of his final creation is commemorated principally through the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, the Science Museum in London, Tangmere Aviation Museum and The Spitfire Society.


Francis Stanley Gabreski (28 January 1919–31 January 2002)

28 January 1919: Colonel Francis Stanley (“Gabby”) Gabreski, United States Air Force, was born at Oil City, Pennsylvania. He was the second child of Stanislaw Gabryszewski, a railroad car repairer, and Jozefa Kapica Gabryszewsky, both immigrants from Poland. He attended Oil City High School, graduating in 1938.

Francis Gabreski, 1940. (The Dome)

After two years of study at the University of Notre Dame, on 28 Francis S. Gabreski enlisted as a Flying Cadet, Air Corps, United States Army, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was 5 feet, 8 inches (172.7 centimeters) tall and weighed 146 pounds (66.2 kilograms). After completing flight training, on 14 March 1941, Gabreski was commissioned as a second lieutenant, Air Reserve.

Lieutenant Gabreski was assigned as a fighter pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, at Wheeler Army Airfield, Territory of Hawaii. He flew Curtiss P-36 Hawks and P-40 Warhawks. While at Wheeler, Gabreski met his future wife, Miss Catherine Mary Cochran. They planned to marry, but this was delayed when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Hawaii on 7 December 1941.

On 1 March 1942, Gabreski was promoted to first lieutenant, Air Corps, Army of the United States (A.U.S.), and then to captain, 16 October 1942. Captain Gabreski was sent to Britain with the 56th Fighter Group.

Because of his Polish lineage and his fluency in the language, Gabreski requested assignment to a Polish fighter squadron fighting with the Royal Air Force. His request was approved and he was assigned to No. 315 Squadron, based at RAF Northolt, London, England, where he flew the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX. (One of those Spitfires, Spitfire Mk.IXc BS410, is currently under restoration at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.)

Captain Francis S. Gabreski, U.S. Army Air Corps, in the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX, PK E, BS410, with No. 315 Squadron, Royal Air Force, at RAF Northolt, England, 1943. This airplane was shot down 13 May 1943. It is currently under restoration. (Royal Air Force)

As American involvement in the European Theater increased, “Gabby” returned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, and flew the Republic P-47C Thunderbolt. He was promoted to the rank of Major, 19 July 1943.

Major Gabreski was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, 23 January 1944. He took command of the 61st Fighter Squadron on 13 April 1944.

Lieutenant Colonel Francis S. Gabreski, commanding 61st Fighter Squadron, in the cockpit of his Republic P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt, 42-26418, 1944. The marks indicate 28 enemy aircraft destroyed. (American Air Museum in Britain)

By July 1944, he had shot down 28 enemy fighters in aerial combat and destroyed another three on the ground, making him the leading American fighter ace up to that time.

Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski’s Republic P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt, 42-26418, RAF Boxted, Essex, England, 1944. (U.S. Air Force 68268 A.C./American Air Museum in Britain UPL 33594) Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski, at right, with the ground crew of his Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, circa July 1944. Left to right, crew chief, Staff Sergeant Ralph H. Safford,of Ionia, Michigan assistant crew chief Corporal Felix Schacki, Gary, Indiana and armorer Sergeant Michael Di Franza, East Boston, Massachussetts. (American Air Museum in Britain) Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski (standing, just left of center) with the pilots of the 61st Fighter Squadron, July 1944. (American Air Museum in Britain)

Having flown 193 combat missions and awaiting transport to the United States, on 20 July 1944 Gabreski decided to take “just one more.” As he made a low strafing run across an enemy airfield near Bassenheim, Germany, the tips of his propeller blades hit the ground, causing a severe vibration. He put his Thunderbolt down on its belly, climbed out and ran to avoid being captured. He evaded the enemy for five days before he was caught. Gabreski was held as a Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft I until April 1945.

Two German officers stand on the wing of Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski’s P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt, 42-26418, near Bassenheim, Germany. (Luftwaffe) Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski’s P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt, 42-26418, near Bassenheim, Germany. (Luftwaffe)

Gabreski was promoted to the rank of Colonel, Army of the United States, 24 October 1945. He was released from active duty in September 1946. He then joined the Air National Guard with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, 6 December 1946.

Gabreski resumed his college education, enrolling as one of the first students at the School of General Studies of Columbia University in 1947. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) in political science, in 1949.

During the the Korean War, Lieutenant Colonel Gabreski served with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing and commanded the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. He is credited with shooting down 6.5 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 15 fighters netween 8 July 1951 and 13 April 1952, while flying North American Aviation F-86A and F-86E Sabres. (The “.5” represents credit shared with another pilot for one enemy airplane destroyed, 20 February 1952.) Gabreski flew 100 combat missions over Korea.

Colonel Gabreski in the cockpit of a North American Aviation F-86E Sabre, Korea, 1952.

After an assignment as Chief of Combat Operations, Office of the Deputy Inspector General, at Norton Air Force Base in southern California, Colonel Gabreski attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. He was then assigned as Deputy Chief of Staff, Ninth Air Force.

He went on to command two tactical fighter wings, the 354th and the 18th, flying North American Aviation F-100 Super Sabres.

Colonel Gabreski’s final fighter command was the 52nd Fighter Wing (Air Defense) based at Suffolk County Airport, New York, which was equipped with the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo interceptor.

Colonel Francis Stanley Gabreski, United States Air Force. (Imperial War Museum FRE 13934)

Colonel Gabreski retired from the Air Force 1 November 1967 after 27 years of service and 37.5 enemy aircraft destroyed. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more combat missions than any other U.S. Air Force fighter pilot.

Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Francis S. Gabreski, 11 June 1945. (andrezejburlewicz.blog)

Gabby Gabreski married Miss Catherine Mary (“Kay”) Cochran, 11 June 1945, at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Campion College, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. They would have nine children. Mrs Gabreski died in a car accident in 1993.

Two of their sons graduated from the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado, and became U.S. Air Force pilots. His daughter-in-law, Lieutenant General Terry L. Gabreski, USAF, was the highest-ranking woman in the United States Air Force at the time of her retirement.

Colonel Gabreski was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in combat on 26 November 1943, when he shot down two enemy Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters. His other decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster (two awards), Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with two silver and bronze oak leaf clusters (thirteen awards), Bronze Star, Air Medal with one silver and one bronze oak leaf cluster (seven awards), and Prisoner of War Medal. He was awarded the Royal Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, France’s Légion d’honneur and Croix de Guerre with Palm, Poland’s Krzyż Walecznych and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm.

In 1991, Suffolk County Airport, New York, was renamed Francis S. Gabreski Airport in his honor.

Colonel Gabreski died 31 January 2002 at the age of 83 years. He is buried at Calverton National Cemetery, Long Island, New York.

Lieutenant Colonel Francis Stanley Gabreski. Fighter Pilot. (U.S. Air Force)


Spitfire Mk.IX of No.253 Squadron - History

Date:29-APR-1944
Time:15:15 LT
Type:
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IX
Owner/operator:132 Squadron Royal Air Force (132 Sqn RAF)
Registration: MJ170
C/n / msn: FF-
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Krimweg road, Hoenderloo, Gelderland - Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Ford, West Sussex
Narrative:
The Spitfire was on a Ranger operation to Deelen airfield, when suddenly a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 appeared in the skies over Deelen airfield, flown by the highly experienced night fighter pilot Major Hans-Joachim Jabs of the Stab/NJG 1.

The following is taken from Wikipedia:
On 29 April 1944 Jabs paid a visit to fellow night fighter pilot Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer and his Gruppe at St. Trond, Belgium. In mid-afternoon through cloudy and foggy skies Jabs made the short trip back to his home base at Deelen. As Jabs approached Deelen he could see a small group of single engine fighters low over the airfield, which he took to be German. The aircraft, in fact, were from No. 132 Squadron RAF, led by Squadron Leader Geoffrey Page, who had taken a flight of Spitfires on a low level mission looking for enemy aircraft. The approaching twin engine fighter was just what Page was looking for. As Jabs continued his approach he saw the aircraft turn toward him. Realizing his mistake, he flew toward his attackers and through some cloud. Emerging on the other side he found himself approaching head on the Spitfire of New Zealander John Caulton. As the two aircraft rapidly closed both began firing, but Jabs' twin 30 mm cannon took effect first, ripping open the Spitfire's drop tank and putting hits on the engine and wing. Flying past, the undamaged Spitfires regrouped and turned to attack again. Jabs attempted to reach the cover of his airfield. As the Spitfires approached from behind, Jabs surprised them by turning into them again. Both sides were firing as they closed. For a brief moment one of the Spitfires was caught by the heavy forward guns of the Bf 110. It was engulfed in fire and crashed to earth. Jabs' aircraft had also taken several hits, and was losing power in one of the engines. He made an abrupt hard landing, and with the aircraft still rolling he and the crew scrambled for cover while the airfield's Flak batteries attempted to drive off the attackers. Despite the fire from the field's defenses, the Spitfires strafed the Bf 110, setting it ablaze.

Ranger - usually a deep penetration flight to a specified area, to engage targets of opportunity


Cockpit

Most Spitfire Mk. IX were fitted with the same type of canopy, a Malcolm Hood with bulged sides, as shown in this view. Only the few earliest examples were equipped with a flat-sided model known from the Mk. V. Another change introduced during the production run was a round rear-view mirror replacing the earlier rectangular type.
Note that the supporting bar connecting the top of the armored plate with the fuselage spine is located on the inside of the plexiglass. Photo: Phillip Treweek

The canopy featured an integrated bullet-proof windscreen. The windscreen part was mated to the cockpit cutout with an additional bit of metal skin which is clearly visible from this angle. Photo: Phillip Treweek

Close-up on the pilot headrest mounted to the protective armour plate. Photo: Phillip Treweek

Details of the cockpit entry door with the prominent escape crowbar fitted to its inner surface.
Photo: Phillip Treweek

Look into the cockpit, almost in original condition except for the modern seat cushion and some radio wiring stuck beside it. Note that there is no solid cockpit floor, but only two moving circular bars connected to the rudder pedals in the front. Photo: Phillip Treweek

Another view showing the spade grip-style stick so typical for the British fighters of the era. The button on top of the grip is the compound gun trigger, serving both the cannon and machine gun armament.
Mounted to the horizontal fuselage frame on the cockpit sidewall is the throttle control (the item with the red handle). The colors of this cockpit are matching the original factory finish, with Interior Green sides and black instrument panel and other equipment. Photo: Phillip Treweek

Instrument panel in original condition. The round item on the bottom side of the photo is the undercarriage control unit. Photo: Phillip Treweek

View of the sizeable reflector gunsight. The headphones are of modern variety. Photo: Phillip Treweek

This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in December 2001.