BM597 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb, Duxford 2011 ©Nigel Key
Supermarine Spitfire BM597 was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered to 37 Maintenance Unit on the 26th May 1042.
Initially allocated to 315 (Polish) Squadron in May 1942, after just 4 months of service she was transferred to fellow Polish 317 Squadron where she carried the code JH-C.
She was involved in a landing accident and declared Cat B on the 13th February 1943 and required extensive repair at De Havilland’s and modifications at Vickers-Armstrong before passing through 33, 39, and 222 Maintenance Units and issued to 58 Operational Training Unit in April 1945.
In October 1945 she was converted to an instructional airframe at RAF St Athan and issued with the serial 5718M. Relegated to display duties it paired with AR614 at RAF Hednesford where she was gate guardian from 1952-54, and then to RAF Bridgenorth before transfer to RAF Church Fenton.
Recalled to service for the 'Battle of Britain' film in 1967 it provided the master model for the fibre glass replicas.
Back at Church Fenton in 1969 for a further 20 years where she was gate guardian, with 4 years at Linton on Ouse from 1975-79, it was sold by the MoD to the Tim Routsis Organisation Historic Flying Ltd, moving firstly to Braintree then onto the new facility at Audley End.
Sold on to the Historic Aircraft Collection of Jersey in October 1993, work continued at Audley End culminating in a first flight on July 20th 1997, with the registration G-MKVB.
BM597 was temporarily in a new paint scheme in 2000 for the movie Pearl Harbour film with markings AR352 (RF-C).
Along with Hurricane 'Z5140,' it flew to Malta as part of the 'Merlins over Malta' project in September 2005 and was painted dark blue and coded U-2.
In June 2010 BM597 made an emotional journey to Poland and was greeted there by two of her old pilots Squadron Leader Franciszek Kornicki and Flight Lieutenant Jerzy Mencel.
BM597 is currently painted in camouflage scheme and coded JH-C.
|SPECIFICATION (Mk Vb)|
|Length - 29ft 11in (9.12m)|
|Wingspan - 36ft 10in (11.23m)|
|Height - 11ft 5.5in (3.48m)|
|Engine - Rolls Royce Merlin|
|Power - 1,470 Hp|
|Max. Speed - 371 mph (597 km/h)|
|Range - 470 mile (756 km)|
|Cannon - 2 x 20mm Hispano|
|Machine Guns - 4 x 0.303" Browning|