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