Things are looking up Spitfire-wise in Australia. In addition to the two airworthy aircraft now owned by the RAAF but operated by the Temora Aviation Museum (see https://www.airforce.gov.au/news-and-events/news/air-force-and-temora-alliance-historic-military-aircraft), the former Lone Star Flight Museum’s Spitfire XVIe TE392 is now again airworthy in Australian skies. Fighter Pilot Adventure Flights, an Archerfield, Queensland-based flight experience company is offering flights in their P-51D ‘Flying Undertaker’ (amongst other options) alongside TE392. TE 392 was built at the Castle Bromwich Vickers Supermarine plant in 1945 as a LF Mk.XVIe bubble canopy low back aircraft and delivered to the RAF in 1945. In 1992, it was acquired by Mike Araldi of Jet Cap Aviation Corp and converted to a high-back configuration. Both TE392 and the P-51D are seen in the attached photos refuelling at Kingaroy Airport recently, taken by one of the members of my local gliding club there, Neil Dunn.
Still in work are Mk IX MH603 (registered VH-IXF) and LF Mk.IXb MH415, which was used in the Battle of Britain movie and subsequently used as payment to Connie Edwards for his work in the movie. MH415 has completed ground runs and taxi trials and is ready for flight. It was sent to the UK earlier this year for the airshow season but COVID-19 has put a stop to its displays there. By the time you read this, perhaps some of you will have seen it in the air.
Great news is F Mk.Vc (Trop) BS164, RAAF serial A58-63 is also making good progress to flight. This aircraft is that flown by Squadron Leader E. M. Gibbs, the Commanding Officer of No. 54 (Spitfire) Squadron RAF in which he scored five and a half Japanese aircraft shot down. It is the most significant Spitfire currently in Australia and will be great to see flying in a few years’ time. Fortunately, the Pays intend to keep this aircraft in their collection, so we have a good chance of seeing at least five Spitfires in the air together. The Pays are also working on another F Mk.Vc (Trop) MA353, RAAF serial A58-232, for Paul Bennett to be completed in its 54SQN scheme, marked as DL-A as well as a rare Seafire XV, SW800. Not significant to Australian operations (the Australian Defence Force never operated Seafires), SW800 is for sale, if you have deep pockets! Personally, I’d love to see it flying here as it’s my favourite of the Griffon-powered Spitfire variants.
Sadly, the only airworthy Hurricane in Australia, Canadian-built Mk XII Serial No 5481, VH-JFW, is being advertised for sale. Having seen this and Spitfire Mk.VIII A58-758 flying together recently at the RAAF Edinburgh Air Show, I do hope it will stay in Australian hands.
As always, I’m keen to hear from other Australian members of the Society. So far, only Peter Waterhouse has contacted me – come on you Aussies; there must be more of you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring or SMS me on 0408 219 268.
All the best,
The Spitfire Society