Hispano HA-112 MIL Buchon
Operator: Aircraft Restoration Company
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin 500-45
Colour Scheme: Luftwaffe ‘Yellow 10’ (Battle of Britain movie)
The Buchon is essentially a Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined Messerschmitt Bf109. The Luftwaffe-manned Condor Legion left around 40 Bf109B/E’s for the Spanish Air Force to use upon its return to Germany in 1939.
In 1943 the Spanish government agreed a licence production with Messerschmitt to produce 200 Bf109G’s. A total of 25 dismantled airframes were sent to Spain in 1943 as pattern aircraft for future production, although engines, propellers, tailplanes and armament failed to arrive. As the war worsened, Germany was unable to supply the remaining components for the airframes, the technical drawings or appropriate jigs. By late 1944, when neither missing parts nor engines were available from Germany, Hispano Aviacion modified the airframes and tried two different engines, the second French built engine being the more successful.
Improving relations between the Spanish government and the West from 1952 onwards, saw a more powerful engine sourced from Britain, the two-speed Rolls Royce Merlin 500-45. The combination of ex-German airframe and British powerplant was successful and the first prototype flew its maiden flight on 30 December 1954. This particular aircraft was given the construction number 223 when built by Hispano Aviacion in Seville in 1959. Its service history has yet to come to light but unit code 7-54 stamped into a panel on the wing indicates that the Buchon served with Ala 7 at Tablada and El Corpero, although it remains uncertain whether the aircraft saw combat in the Spanish Sahara
This aircraft was one of 27 purchased at auction from the Spanish Air Force by Spitfire Productions for use in the making of the 1968 film “Battle of Britain”. Wing tips were squared off, tail struts added and dummy machine guns fitted to the wings to more visually represent the Messerschmitt BF109E of the Battle of Britain period. Filming started in Spain, but later the 17 airworthy aircraft were flown via France to Duxford, UK. Throughout the summer of 1968, the 17 Buchons, 2 Heinkel Bombers and 9 Spitfires engaged in mock dogfights above East Anglia and The Wash. Upon completion of filming, the aircraft were returned to their owners or in the case of the Buchons put up for disposal.
By now registered as G-AWHK, this particular Buchon was one of eleven taken by Texan pilot and aircraft collector Wilson C “Connie” Edwards as payment for flying services during the filming. It was shipped to his ranch in Texas where it flew briefly as N9938 before being placed on static display in 1971 with the Confederate Air Force in Detroit. Acquired by the Old Flying Machine Company, it arrived at Duxford In May 1996, re-registered as G-BWUE and sold on to The Real Aircraft Company at Breighton in Yorkshire, who initiated a full rebuild to airworthy condition. The aircraft was marked up as Hauptmann Werner Schroer’s Bf 109G-2/trop ‘Red 1’, which he flew whilst serving on the Greek island of Rhodes in early 1943.
Purchased by Spitfire Ltd. in November 2006, G-BWUE moved back to Duxford to be maintained by the Aircraft Restoration Company. The aircraft appeared regularly at airshows in the UK and was also used during the filming of ‘Valkyrie’ starring Tom Cruise. Now owned by Historic Flying Ltd, G-BWUE has been assembled and painted as Messerschmitt ‘Yellow 10’ as seen in the Battle of Britain film.
During the summer of 2016, staying true to her movie star roots, the Buchon spent extensive time filming for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk movie.
Image Credit: George Lewis Romain