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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1
G-CGUK Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I c/n 6S-75531 - RAF 'R9612''LC' - Hoogeveen airfield in Holland - 15 July 2016 Hoogeveen airfield (EHHO)

The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I 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.I G-CGUK was seen at Hoogeveen airfield in the Netherlands as RAF 'R9612/LC' together with Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia G-AIST 'R9632/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.I s/n 6S-75531 X4650 was built in 1940 as part of contract 19713/39 by Vickers Armstrong's (Supermarine) Ltd. at Woolston and was first test flown at Eastleigh on 23 October 1940. The X4650 was delivered to the RAF No. 24 MU (Maintenance Unit) at Royal Air Force station Ternhill in Shropshire, England, on 25 October 1940. On 14 November 1940, the aircraft was taken on charge by 54 Squadron at Catterick, Yorkshire. On 28 December 1940, Spitfire X4650 and Spitfire X4276 of 54 Squadron were undertaking a training exercise when they collided at 12,000 feet, the X4650 cut through the tail section of the other aircraft. The pilot of Spitfire X4650 was new to the squadron, he made a practice attack on the other aircraft but struck the tail of the other aircraft slicing it off. Spitfire X4650 had damage to it's canopy and had flattened it's tail fin where as Spitfire X4276 went into a spin, Spitfire X4650 remained in level flight for a time allowing the pilot to bale out. The aircraft then crashed into the bank of the River Leven at Red Hall Farm, Kirklevington. The pilot landed at Kirklevington Hall, North Yorkshire. Following the crash Cat.W/FA damage (Write-off/ Flying Accident) was recorded and Spitfire X4650 was struck off charge on 4 January 1941. The wreckage of the X4650 was discovered in the long, hot summer of 1976 when low river levels exposed the metal embedded in a clay riverbank on farmland near Kirklevington. The wrecked plane came into the hands of a North Yorkshire collector and in 1995 the remains were acquired by Peter Monk, who runs The Spitfire Company at Biggin Hill. Soon after restoration work on the Spitfire commenced. The project was given a huge boost when the Spitfire was bought by Texan businesssman Dan Friedkin. Peter Monk was kept on to supervise the restauration. On 10 February 2011, the Spitfire Mk.I was registered G-CGUK in the UK with Peter Monk Ltd as Vickers Supermarine Spitfire I s/n 6S-75531. First post restoration flight of the Spitfire in the Royal Air Force colours 'X4650/KLA' was from Biggin Hill in March 2012. On 11 September 2012, the aircraft was registered as chartered with Comanche Warbirds Ltd, Barnet. The Spitfire Mk.I is owned by Comanche Fighters, Houston, Texas, and is based based at Duxford. On 17 May 2016, the CAA permitted flying in Royal Air Force colours with Code:LC and Serial:R9612 on the aircraft.

page last updated: 26-08-2016
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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