announcement of Open Days at the Brockworth Tithe Barn Arts and Crafts
Centre over Easter 2010 gave the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection an
opportunity to display many items rarely or never seen in public in the
21st Century. These were arranged in national themes and are
SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE G-AIDN
As discussed in the
article on C.B.
Collett's Air Force,
the Supermarine Spitfire has a special place in the annals of British
aviation and the 1/48 scale model of an overall-yellow two seat
Spitfire with the civilian registration G-AIDN has provoked particular
comment among museum visitors. And, considering the story
it, rightly so!
There are more Spitfires flying in 2010 than there has been since the
early 1950's. The current number in airworthy condition - and changing
hands for around £ 2 000 000 apiece - is
around the half century and a substantial industry has built up around
restoring and maintaining the elliptical wing fighters.
Indeed is true to say that with the exception of parts of the engines,
it is possible to build a new Spitfire from scratch. Consequently, the
amount of viable aeroplane needed to allow a restoration has decreased
to the point where the number of restoration projects is considerable.
Whether, with the wide use of any available parts and owner
customisation, many of these Spitfires can be truly labelled as being
accurate to any one Mark is debatable, but given the rapid
rate of Wartime progress, in-service upgrades, extensive repairs after
damage, and sheer force of necessity it is probable that the same
problem was also true of many service Spitfires! A significant number
of Spitfires are also recorded as having flown in a number of different
although relatively rare in World War Two service, the two seat
Spitfire is now much more commonplace among the ranks of flyable
preserved Spitfires and the airframe that is represented as
overall-yellow G-AIDN was the original official - and unique
- Trainer Mark VIII development of the Spitfire built by
In the absence of an official two-seater variant, a number of Spitfires
had been crudely converted in the field. These included Mk VB ES217 owned
by 4 Squadron South African Air Force in North Africa, where a second
seat was fitted instead of the upper fuel tank in front of the cockpit by
Catalina, Sicily, based 118 Maintenance Unit. However, this was not a dual control aircraft and is thought
to have been used as the squadron "run-about."
The only unofficial two seat conversions that were fitted with dual
controls were a small number of Russian lend/lease Mk IX aircraft.
These were referred to as Mk IX UTI and differed from the Supermarine
proposals by using an in-line "greenhouse" style double canopy rather
than the raised "bubble" type of the T Mk VIII.
VE Day, the two seat trainer idea was revived by Supermarine and a
number of two-seat Spitfires were built by converting old Mk IX
airframes with a second "raised" cockpit featuring a bubble canopy. Ten
Trainer IXs were ordered by the Indian Air Force, six by the Irish Air
Corps (numbered 158 to 163 to fulfil Department of Defense
specification 499/502 for an advanced flying training aircraft), three
by the Dutch Air Force and one by the Egyptian Air Force.
will return to the Trainer IX and subsequent two seat conversions later
in this article but first to be told is the remarkable story of G-AIDN
818, G-AIDN, N58JE
built as a Type 359 Spitfire F.Mk.VIII and allocated to the Controller
of Research and Development at High Post in June 1944, the airframe
carrying the Royal Air Force serial number MT818 and
number 6S/729058 was purchased by Vickers in February 1945 and was
converted to the Type 502 Spitfire T.Mk.VIII two-seat demonstration
trainer at Chilbolton, first flying in September 1946.
full set of instruments was installed in the front cockpit for the
student and four .303 Browning machine guns were retained for weapons
training. Power came from a Rolls Royce Merlin Mark 66
4 bladed propeller and flight testing was undertaken by Supermarine
pilot Mike Lithgow.
At first 6S/729058 carried the civilian 'Class B' marking N32
but was later was registered as G-AIDN.
flew in its demonstration - and sometimes racing - role with Vickers
from 1947 to 1952. During this period G-AIDN was sent to RAF
Boscombe Down for handling trials and although found to have similar
performance to a single seat fighter Spitfire the visibility from the
rear cockpit was poor.
Type 502 Spitfire
T.Mk.VIII stored at Chilbolton from 1952 to 1956, again
active for a number of air races, before being moved to the Hampshire
Aeroplane Club in August 1956 and owned by Vivian Bellamy at Eastleigh
September 1956 to 1963. During Viv Bellamy's ownership, G-AIDN took
part in several cross
country air races - including the 1961 King's Cup Air Race -
blue colour scheme with the racing number 99. In another competition
- in which G-AIDN was sponsored by Sir Billy Butlin of holiday camp fame
- the Spitfire became the fastest piston engined aircraft to travel
between Marble Arch in London and the Arc D'Triomphe in Paris.
G-AIDN was also displayed outside a hangar at Upavon during the 50
Years of Military Flying display in June 1962. During this
event a typed placard which said "This aircraft not to exceed
400 mph." was noted in the rear cockpit.
1963 G-AIDN was sold to John Fairey - an instructor at
Aero Club and the son of Richard Fairey, founder of Fairey Aviation
- for £ 2 000. The two seat Spitfire then became
aircraft that John Fairey ever used for display flying in a career that
was to last four decades.
19 September 1964 G-AIDN was noted at RAF Gaydon still in its light
colour scheme with the number 99 emblazoned on its tail.
share of John Fairey's G-AIDN was sold to Tim Davies in 1967 , after
which G-AIDN was based at Andover, and in 1976 the whole aircraft was
sold to Mike S. Bayliss of Baginton, Coventry.
On 31 March 1968,
G-AIDN took part in a Skyfame
Air Display and
flew in formation with the Skyfame Museum's own Anson 1,
Oxford V3388/G-AHTW. This required
John Fairey, a
long time supporter of Peter Thomas's Skyfame, to fly his Spitfire as
slowly as possible while the Oxford - containing photographer Adrian M.
Balch - tried to keep up. Both these
Skyfame owned twin engined machines are now static exhibits at Duxford.
2 July 1969 G-AIDN was noted at Middle Wallop in a dark blue livery
with a white horizontal line along the fuselage although by the air
show at RNAS Yeovilton on 21 September 1974 the two-seater had been
painted in the overall yellow depicted in the model.
From 1978 to 1983
G-AIDN was the property of
George F. Miller of Baginton and later Dinas Powys and during his
ownership the two seat Spitfire was damaged while landing at Baginton
on 6 February 1978. The Supermarine trainer was then
RAF St Athan in 1980, emerging as MT818/G-M as pictured below by R.
rebuild began under George Miller's ownership in 1982 and the newly
marked MT818/G-M was shipped to Houston Texas before transferring to
Jack Ericson of Medford, Oregon.
two seat Spitfire left the British civilian register on 3
July 1986 and was registered N58JE on 13
It was operated by Tillamook NAS Air Museum in Oregon from
to 2002 and then passed into the hands of Provenance Fighter Sales in
Murrieta, California. The Supermarine trainer was then sold to
Paul Andrews for the G2 collection, dismantled at Tillamook and was
subsequently shipped back to West Sussex in October
Restoration at Kemble,
Gloucestershire - including the installation of a Mark 266 Merlin engine - has
since been completed and MT818 appeared from 30 June to 5 July at the
Masterpiece London 2011 event at the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital,
Of the 20 examples of the
Supermarine Spitfire Type 509 Trainer IX produced seven now fly,
one ( MJ772 ) has returned to single seat status another more recent
conversion ( PT462 ) from single seat Spitfire have been added to the
was discussed when reviewing the life of G-AIDN, even the high bubble
configuration of the instructor's cockpit only offered a limited view
of the student cockpit and the lower bubble mainly characterising the
Trainer IX was even less suitable for the role. Nevertheless,
most recent restoration of PV202 to flying condition has included a
high domed rear cockpit with the express intention of using the
aircraft to train potential pilots of today's precious and expensive
delivered to 65 Squadron as an F Mk IX in August 1943, single seat
MH367 also served with 229 and 312 Squadrons. After a period with the
Empire Flying School, it was written off after a landing accident in
July 1948. The airframe, as seen today, is largely a new build started
by Dick Melton, into which some of the original structure (and thus
identity) of MH367 has been incorporated. The final work was completed
in Bartow, Florida, for Peter Godfrey.
Built in December
1943 as a standard Mk IX and operated by 441 Squadron, MJ627 was sold
back to Vickers-Armstrong and became the first production two seat
trainer conversion Trainer IX. It remains in the original high dome
rear cockpit configuration and after service with the Irish Air Corps
it was purchased as a source of spares for MH434, but was returned to
the air in its own right in November 1993. It is owned and operated by
Maurice and Peter Bayliss, as part of their collection at
Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Leicestershire, UK. In May 1998 G-BMSB
suffered an undercarriage failure and sustained damage in the
subsequent wheels-up landing. Restored to the air in
2002, G-BMSB has been moved to East Kirby, Lincolnshire.
/ G-AVAV / N8R
Delivered to RAF
Lyneham as a single seat Mk IX in December 1943, MJ772 served with 340
and 341 Squadron RAF, and was converted for the Irish Air Corps to
Trainer IX configuration in July 1950, numbered as IAC 159. The Irish
Air Corps sold it to Film Aviation Services Ltd and then to COGEA as a
target towing aircraft. It appeared in the 1969 Guy Hamilton film "The
Battle of Britain", for which it was extensively restored, and after a
couple of sales, was acquired for the Champlin Fighter Museum, Mesa,
Arizona, USA in 1974. It remains airworthy, but as a slightly
odd-looking single seat Spitfire, as the rear cockpit has simply been
Delivered to 33 Maintenance Unit in April 1944
as a single-seat Mk IX, ML407 flew 176 operational sorties and over 200 combat
hours. Its first operational owner was 485 ( New Zealand ) Squadron
based at Selsey airfield, West Sussex and was flown to join this unit by Air
Transport Auxilliary (ATA) pilot Jackie Sorour. With Johnnie Houlton at
the controls however it was the first Allied aircraft to shoot down an enemy
machine on D-Day. Pilot Houlton who helped shoot down another Ju 88 over
Normandy on 6 June 1944 - later recalled:
"The engine disintegrated,
fire broke out, two crew members baled out and the aircraft dived steeply to
crash on a roadway, blowing apart on impact."
ML407 later flew with 341( Free French) , 349 (Belgian) , 308 (Polish) , 345(
Free French) , and 332 (Norwegian)
332 Squadron was one of two Norwegian Squadrons based at North Weald, Essex,
from 1942 and its ranks eventually included Lt Rolf Kolling, the son of a
railway engineer who had joined his nation's merchant marine as a teenager in
1939. Jumping ship in Melbourne in 1941, Rolf made his was to Canada to
join other Norwegians learning to fly and by the war's end was credited with
destroying a Focke Wulf and half an Me 109 during 120 sorties as well as a
German armoured patrol vehicle. This was attacked by Lt Kolling and his
comrade Eigel Stigset - flying ML407 - on the afternoon of 21 April 1945 near
Amsterdam. Pressing home their attack from 500' at 400 mph "..there was no
way", as Rolf later commented "anyone was driving that vehicle again."
In June 1951 Vickers delivered ML407 converted to Trainer IX
standard to the Irish Air Corps.
Having made its last IAC flight on 8 July 1960, ML407 was retired to
instructional airframe status and was stored disassembled at Baldonnel from 1962
to 1968 when it was sold on 4 March to NAW Samuelson for use in the film "The
Battle of Britain" - although it did not appear. The still-crated aircraft was
sold in 1970 to Sir William Roberts and moved to Shoreham, from where it moved
several times before it became part of the Strathallan Collection near
Auchterardar in Scotland from August 1971 to 1979. ML407 was acquired by
Cornish based design engineer and pilot Nick Grace for restoration on 9 August
1979, and registered as G-LFIX on 1 February 1980.
After years of restoration, ML407 made its first flight in nearly a quarter
of a century at St Merryn airfield, Cornwall, on 16 April 1985. Tragically
Nick Grace died in a car accident in 1988 but since then his widow Carolyn has learned to fly, and now display, the Spitfire:
becoming the first woman to train as a Spitfire pilot since the ATA women of
World War II.
ML407 is based at Duxford Aerodrome, Cambridgeshire, and flies in its wartime colours as
OU-V of 485 Squadron. It is pictured here, complete with
invasion stripes, at the Walney Air Show near Barrow in Furness in 2005.
More recently, on 2 March 2011, Carolyn Grace marked the 75th anniversary of
the first Spitfire flight at Southampton Airport, opening the throttle of ML407
at precisely 1529 and 50 seconds and taking off ten seconds later.
as a single-seat HF IX to 39 MU in July 1942, PT462 operated with 253
Squadron in the Mediterranean and, after the War, by both the Italian
and Israeli Air Forces. It was discovered as a derelict shell and its
restoration for Charles Church included conversion to Trainer IX
standard, flying again in July 1987. After the death of Charles Church
flying another Spitfire, PT462 moved to Florida, but has now returned
to the UK. G-CTIX is owned and operated by North Wales based
Anthony Hodgson. It was pictured here, complete with a Welsh
on the fin, at the Walney Air Show near Barrow in Furness in 2005.
PV202 was built at
Castle Bromwich as a single seat LF IX as part of contract No. B981687/39 and delivered to 33 MU
at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, on 18 September 1944.
Initially delivered to 84 Group Support Unit, it spent time with 33
Squadron - part of the 135th Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force based at
Merville in France. 33 Squadron flew ground support and offensive
operations as the Allies pushed further into Europe and PV202 logged 20
operational sorties with ten pilots from Britain, Denmark, Holland and South
Africa, shooting down a Meserschmitt Bf109 and a Focke-Wulf 190.
PV202 then transferred back to 84 GSU, then 83 GSU, then 412 (RCAF)
Squadron, where it had a busy service life before a final operational flight on
4 May 1945. Placed into storage in July
1945, it was sold to Vickers-Armstrongs for conversion into a Trainer
IX configuration for the Irish Air Corps identified as IAC-161.
PV202 was downgraded to being an instructional airframe in 1960 and
sold on in March 1968 to NAW Samuelson, but after four years in storage was
acquired by Sir William Roberts for his Strathallan Collection.
PV202 was sold to Nick Grace along with ML407 in 1979, but was soon to pass
to Steve Atkins, who had also tried to buy the aircraft from the Strathallan
Collection. Following her restoration with a low domed rear cockpit, PV202 was
returned to her 412 Squadron markings, and took to the air from Dunsfold on 23
February 1990, with Pete Kynsey at the controls.
Once airworthy PV202 was sold to Richard Parker as G-TRIX, who then sold her
to Rick Roberts.
Sadly, PV202 was involved in a tragic accident at Goodwood
on 8 April 2000 that left pilots Norman Lees (a former
Falklands War Sea King pilot) and Greg McCurragh dead.
The second restoration of PV202 was undertaken by Historic
Flying Limited in mid 2002, the first time they had restored
a crash damaged airframe, as the impact of the crash had left
the airframe badly twisted.
The aircraft was fitted with a
Data Analogue Analysing
System, the second to have such a system fitted, the
first being Spitfire Mk XIV RN201. Engine and flight data
are monitored by computer, providing the engineering team
with information which can provide advance warning of
potential problems. A cockpit carbon monoxide sensing system
was also installed, to warn both pilot and engineers if the
gas level goes beyond safe limits.
An original Rolls Royce Merlin 66 was sourced, overhauled
and rebuilt to zero time condition by a team of engineers at
Universal Airmotive, Chicago and the aircraft's original IAC
raised rear bubble canopy, which had been found, was
restored. The aircraft returned to its former 1950s Irish
Air Corps colours as IAC-161, and was re-registered as G-CCCA
to give it a new identity in 2004. IAC-161 returned to the
skies on 13 January 2005.
A new scheme was applied in April 2007 with the markings
of 'H-98' of the Dutch Air Force, which operated 3 aircraft
of the same type from 1946 until 1954. However PV202
suffered a landing gear collapse whilst taxying to the apron
at Lelystad Airport, Netherlands in May 2008, but it was not
serious and the two seat Spitfire was back flying again
within two weeks. The Aircraft retained it Dutch livery
until mid-2010 when it was painted in an RAF Duxford based
92 Squadron Battle of Britain scheme with the Squadron code
SM520 / G-ILDA
SM520 was built in the Castle Bromwich factory in 1944 as
single seat Mark H.F.IXe high level fighter, with firewall construction number
CBAF 10164. It was delivered to the RAF on 23 November 1944 at 33 Maintenance
Unit at RAF Lyneham but with the European conflict tapering off it was retained
in storage until being either shipped or flown with 135 other Spitfires to the
South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1948.
Of the 136
Spitfires exported to South Africa by the UK Government 80 were gifted and the
remainder sold at £2000.00 apiece. Very little is known of its history after
that but the SAAF Spitfires were used mostly for training, being issued to
various Bombing, Gunnery and Air Navigation Schools and latterly to the Air
Operations School to train pilots en route to Korea to operate with the SAAF
Clearly involved in a major flying
accident, the aircraft was recovered to AFB Ysterplaat until its wreckage was
disposed to the scrap yard of SA Metals in Cape Town. Here it languished for
many years until recovered to the SAAF Museum store compound at Snake Valley and
identified by Spitfire historian Peter Arnold as SM520 in 1981.
SM520 then passed through various owners
before being purchased by Paul Portelli in 2002. It was Paul who decided it
should be restored and converted to a TR 9 two seater. He commissioned Airframe
Assemblies to convert the fuselage and build the wings and Classic Aero to
undertake the fitting out of the project.
The aircraft was subsequently registered
as G-ILDA after Paul’s granddaughter but Paul's untimely death meant that on
completion the aircraft was put up for Auction at Bonhams where it was purchased
by the current owner Steve Boultbee Brooks, Managing Director of Boultbee, in
April 2009. It is now operated by Spitfire Display Limited and proudly sponsored
On completion of its rebuild the aircraft was delivered in
the colours of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, one of only three air forces to
order and take delivery of the Spitfire TR 9 after the war. Steve however wanted
to return the aircraft to a British wartime paint scheme and to create a
provenance that best reflected its short known history. He enlisted the help of
Peter Arnold who suggested a WWII South African scheme to reflect its South
African origins, the SAAF Wing then operating in RAF livery and rotating its
aircraft with RAF Spitfires within the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force
and Desert Air Force.
The squadron code markings used for 4
SAAF were ‘KJ’ and the letter used for this specific aircraft was ‘I’. SM520 now
wears those same code letters. No. 4 SAAF squadron had traded in its old Mk V’s
for Mk IX’s at Sinello, Italy, in May 1944 having fought through Africa and up
into Italy where it was engaged until the end of the war flying ground attack
missions against enemy communications and giving air support to the Allied
Armies in the battle area. Once in Italy the squadron was switched from a desert
to the European Standard Day Fighter camouflage grey/green scheme as represented
by the livery SM520 carries today.
was built as a single seat "low back" Mk IXe on a production
assembling both Mk IX and XVI Spitfires - the Mk XVI being distinguished
by a Packard- built Merlin engine - and delivered to 39 MU in 1945
where it spent the next 5 years in store. It was converted to Trainer
IX standard by Vickers Armstrongs and sold to the Irish Air Corps (163)
in July 1951 before being "demobbed" in 1968 and joining the mass of
airframes at Elstree Airfield for "The Battle of Britain".
many of its fellow "extras" in the Guy Hamilton epic, TE308 made a
practical contribution to filming with a camera mounted in the front
seat to take all the forward-looking aircraft shots. After a short
period with the rear cockpit blanked off, it was reinstated to Trainer
IX standard, complete with large rear bubble canopy and is currently
owned and operated by Aspen, Colorado based Bill Greenwood.
TWO SEAT SPITFIRES
mighty moment in the modern history of two seat Spitfires was broadcast
by BBC Television on 27 July 2008 when the presenters of "Top Gear"
arrived in Belgium to challenge presenters from an equivalent German TV
show. Jeremy Clarkson arrived in MJ627 flown by Paul Day,
May in the back seat of PT462 piloted by John Romain and Richard
Hammond was the passenger of Carolyn Grace in ML407.