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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1
G-AIST Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia c/n WASP/20/2 - RAF 'R9632''LC' - Hoogeveen airfield in Holland - 15 July 2016 Hoogeveen airfield (EHHO)

The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia is a British single-seat fighter aircraft built by Supermarine, Morris Motors and Westland. The Spitfire was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries before, during and after World War II. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. The Spitfire was originally designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong. The fighter plane was designed at Southampton's Supermarine seaplane factory following urgent requests from the Ministry of Aviation because of the looming conflict with Germany. Construction of Prototype K5054 (Supermarine Type 300) started in December 1934. Powered by a 990 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin C with DH two-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller, the unarmed prototype K5054 flew first at Eastleigh on 5 March 1936. The Air Ministry placed a first order for 310 units on 3 June 1936. It took two years for Supermarine to prepare for full scale production thanks to the complex design. The initial production version was the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I with te first aircraft flown 14 May 1938, with 1,030 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin II, a liquid-cooled V-12 piston aero engine. Early aircraft had a two-bladed Airscrew Co wooden propeller. From the 78th aircraft the two blade wooden propeller was replaced by a de Havilland two-speed 3-blade propeller. From the 175th aircraft the engine was changed from the Merlin II to the similar Merlin III, which could take either the de Havilland propeller or a more advanced Rotol propeller. The Spitfire Mk.I entered service August 1938 with No 19 Sqn at Duxford and nine squadrons operational by September 1939, with ten more by mid-1940. The designation Supermarine Spitfire IA was adopted in 1940 after 30 aircraft designated Supermarine Spitfire IB when fitted with two Hispano 20-mm cannon each in place of four of the machine guns. Total Mk I production (excluding conversions to prototypes of later marks), 1.519 by Supermarine and 50 by Westland. During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was a succesfull RAF fighter against the Luftwaffe (the Nazi German Air Force). The Hawker Hurricane squadrons were directed against enemy bombers while the Spitfires dealt with the fighter escorts. The Spitfire was a match for the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 and superior to it at lower altitudes. Over the years the design was further developed and refined by Supermarine's engineering team. This would lead to 24 marks of Spitfire, and many sub-variants within the marks. When production ended in 1948, 20.351 Spitfire aircraft were built. The aircraft remained in British military service until 1955. As many Spitfires remained in flying condition it made them available for theatrical use in movies like Battle of Britain; Eagles over London; Malta Story and Dunkirk.

On 15 July 2016, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia G-AIST was seen at Hoogeveen airfield in the Netherlands as RAF 'R9632/LC' together with Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia G-CGUC 'R9612/LC' and Hispano HA-1112 M1L Buchón acting as Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf.109 'Black 2'. These WWII fighters were used for the World War II action thriller Dunkirk above the former fishing island of Urk in the Netherlands. Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia s/n WASP/20/2 AR213 was built in 1941 as part of contract B124305/40 by Westland Aircraft at Yeovilton. On 24 July 1941, Sptfire Mk.Ia AR213 was delivered to RAF No. 12 MU (Maintenance Unit) at Royal Air Force station Kirkbride in Cumbria. On 31 July 1941 she was transferred to 57 OTU (Operational Training Unit) first at RAF Hawarden and from 2 November 1942 at RAF Eshott. On 20 February 1943, the aircraft was transferred to 53 OTU at RAF Llandow. On 19 April 1943, the Spitfire was involved in a landing accident resulting in damage categorie Ac (Repair is beyond the unit capacity, but can be repaired on site by another unit or a contractor). On 17 August 1944, the aircraft went to 8 MU at RAF Little Rissington for storage, until it was struck off charge on 30 November 1945. On 25 October 1946, the airframe was registered G-AIST as Vickers Supermarine Spitfire I s/n A.R. 213 with Group Captain Allen Henry Wheeler, London. On 4 July 1949, registration G-AIST was cancelled. From 1949 till 1963, the aircraft was stored dismantled at Oldwarden. The Spifire was reassembled in 1963 and till 1967 displayed at RAF Abbingdon. In 1967, the aircraft was moved to RAF Henlow, the headquarters of Spitfire Productions, the organisation responsible for the flying and airfield sequences of the Battle of Britain Film. At RAF Hellow the Spitfire was restored to flying condition for use in the making of the 1968 film “Battle of Britain” and painted as Spitfire Mk.V N3311 'AI-B'. On 17 April 1968, the Spitfire Mk.1a was restored to the register as G-AIST with Allen Henry Wheeler as Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mark I s/n AR-213. Most of the filming was carried out at Duxford. Other locations were Northolt, Kenley and North Weald, all of which were operational RAF stations during the actual Battle of Britain. After making of the film the G-AIST was based at Booker Airfield and restored in the RAF 53 OTU scheme, as AR213/QG-A. On 18 May 1974, the G-AIST was sold and registered with Patrick Lindsay on 14 June 1974 and after his death in 1986 the plane was registered to the heiress. On 22 January 1990, the Booker-based Spitfire Mk.I G-AIST was registered with Proteus Petroleum Aviation later Proteus Holdings. In the period the G-AIST was flown the RAF scheme, as AR213/PR-D. On 10 May 1996, Spitfire G-AIST was registered with Sheringham Aviation UK. Her permit to fly expired in March 2002 and the Spitfire underwent a major overhaul and reconstruction at Personal Plane Services (PPS) at Booker, High Wycombe. The first post-restoration flight, in yellow primer, on 12 November 2007. She was finally repainted in authentic R.A.F. 57 OTU markings as 'AR213 / JZ-E'. On 20 June 2006, the G-AIST was registered as Westland Aircraft Spitfire Mk.1a with Spitfire The One, Barnet, and based at Duxford. On 19 May 2016, the CAA permitted flying in Royal Air Force colours with Code:LC and Serial:R9632 on the aircraft.

page last updated: 27-08-2016
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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