Round-the-world Spit­fire

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

The Boult­bee Flight Acad­emy’s Spit­fire LF IXE MJ271/G-IRTY and pi­lots Matt Jones and Steve Brooks have an epic fly­ing ad­ven­ture ahead of them. As has been widely re­ported, they will leave the UK in sum­mer 2019 for a circa 27,000-mile cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion, ex­pected to take four months. Their pro­posed round-the-world route will take them west­bound, through the Arc­tic and North Amer­ica, to Alaska and Rus­sia, then south­wards to Asia, the Mid­dle East and fi­nally back to Europe. For­sak­ing its pre­vi­ous Royal Nether­lands Air Force scheme with se­rial MH424, Spit­fire MJ271 will be­come the un­painted ‘Sil­ver Spit­fire’ G-IRTY. Prepara­tory work for this, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of ex­tra fuel tanks and nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment, is now un­der­way with the Air­craft Restora­tion Com­pany at Dux­ford. The project’s main spon­sor is Swiss watch­maker IWC Schaffhausen.

“The de­ci­sion to fly the Sil­ver Spit­fire around the world was an in­stinc­tive one to hon­our the plane’s his­tory, the peo­ple who built, main­tained and flew it through more than fifty mis­sions, and we want to com­mem­o­rate those who lost their lives in the pur­suit of free­dom”, said Jones. “It’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing to bring the Spit­fire back to many of the places it has served and to fly it for au­di­ences who will see this beau­ti­ful and his­toric ma­chine for the very first time”.

Cas­tle Bromwich-built by Vick­ers-su­per­ma­rine, MJ271 was de­liv­ered to the RAF on 24 Oc­to­ber 1943. It served with Nos 118 and 132 Squadrons and then was trans­ferred to No 401 Sqn RCAF based at Volkel in the Nether­lands. Post-war, MJ271 served out its fly­ing days with the Royal Nether­lands AF un­til May 1954. For al­most twenty years there­after it was with the Delfz­ijl War Mu­seum, be­com­ing in­creas­ingly derelict as an out­door ex­hibit. Two rounds of restora­tion−one by the Fokker Tech­ni­cal School in the mid-1970s, the other by the Lucht­vaart­mu­seum Avi­adome at Schiphol the fol­low­ing decade−brought it up to static dis­play con­di­tion and into its MH424 mark­ings.

His­toric Fly­ing Ltd brought ‘MH424’ to IWM Dux­ford in Au­gust 2006 and placed it on the flight­line along­side air­wor­thy ex­am­ples for its UK pub­lic de­but at the fol­low­ing month’s Spit­fire 70th An­niver­sary Air Show. Stored for the next decade, a full re­build, un­der­taken by the Air­craft Restora­tion Com­pany, be­gan in late 2016/early 2017. Sil­ver Spit­fire test flights will be­gin in late spring 2019.

ABOVE: Spit­fire IX MJ271 is be­ing trans­formed into the 'Sil­ver Spit­fire' G-IRTYBE­LOW: Rud­der­less ‘MH424’ in Royal Nether­lands AF mark­ings at Dux­ford in 2015

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