MK356 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXe, RIAT 2015 ©Nigel Key
Supermarine Spitfire MK356 was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered to 9 Maintenance Unit Cosford on the 4th February 1944.
Allotted to 443 Squadron on the 11th March 1943, it carried the code 21-V and was used extensively on operations leading up to D-Day. It was then assigned to 83 Group Support Unit on August 8th 1944.
In October 1945, MK356 was converted to an instructional airframe at No 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton with serial 5690M.
In 1951 it was transferred to RAF Hawkinge for gate display duties carrying the serial M5690.
After some restoration work at 71 MU RAF Bicester in 1961 it was erected on a pole at RAF Locking for some years before allocation to the 'Battle of Britain' film unit at RAF Henlow in October 1967.
Carrying the spurious serials and codes N3328/AI-R & N3317/BO it was filmed at North Weald and Duxford.
Temporarily stored at RAF Henlow after the film on August 8th 1969 it joined the RAF Museum Reserve Collection based at RAF St Athan. Over an 8 year period it was restored to flight on November 7th 1997.
MK356 Joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) on November 14th 1997. The aircraft is presented as a clipped wing LF Mk IX and carries the only markings it ever wore operationally as 21-V of 443 Squadron RCAF.
MK356 was flown in to Duxford in October 2007 for 6 months maintenance to be carried out by the Aircraft Restoration Company and will include a repaint, replacement of the MK500 Merlin engine with a M266 Merlin engine to return the aircraft to build standard, and a re-spar of the wings will be necessary (Major maintenance of the BBMF fighters will be carried out by the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo) based at Duxford near Cambridge, for the next 5 years with an option to extend to 7 years).
The new paint scheme will depict a 601 Squadron aircraft based in the Italian theatre in 1943. Presented as UF-Q, MJ250 of No 601 (County of London) Squadron the aircraft of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Ibbotson DFC.
Mk356 was then painted in a silver paint scheme used during late 1944 when the Squadron carried out fighter bomber missions over the Balkans from bases in Southern Italy.
It is now painted to represent Spitfire Mk IXc ML214, coded ‘5J-K’, the personal aircraft of Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Plagis, the Commanding Officer of No 126 Squadron from July 1944.
|SPECIFICATION (Mk IXe)|
|Length - 30ft 6in (9.3m)|
|Wingspan - 36ft 10in (11.23m)|
|Height - 11ft 8in (3.56m)|
|Engine - Rolls Royce Merlin 66|
|Power - 1,720 Hp|
|Max. Speed - 408 mph (656 km/h)|
|Range - 434 mile (699 km)|
|Cannon - 2 x 20mm Hispano|
|Machine Guns - 2 x 0.5" Browning|