Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
(The Silver Spitfire)
Operator: The Silver Spitfire
Year of Manufacture: 1943
Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin
Colour Scheme: Silver
On October 24th 1943 MJ271 is delivered from Castle Bromwich to 33 Maintenance Unit at RAF Lyneham.
From there she’s sent to 411, a Polish Repair and Salvage unit tasked with harmonising the guns and performing test flights before passing the aircraft on to an operational unit 118 Squadron.
118 was a fighter Squadron that spent much of its time flying fighter sweeps and escorting bombers over occupied Europe.
Delivered to the Squadron in February 1944 the aircraft saw action in 16 operational sorties from RAF Detling near Maidstone in Kent which included withdrawal cover and escort for B-24, B-17 and B-26 bombers attacking V1 launch sites as well as fighter sweeps over France.
She moved on to 132 Squadron which was formed in 1941 as a day fighter unit equipped with Spitfires. 132 Squadron moved between defensive duties in Scotland and offensive duties in France from bases in the south of England. MJ271 moved to 132 Bombay Squadron and followed the Squadron to RAF Ford in Sussex in April/May 1944. She saw action in 28 operational sorties which included close escort for B-25 and B-26 bombers as well as dive bombing of targets on the French coast, before having a ‘wheels-up’ landing at RAF Ford during the night of May 9th 1944.
On May 15th she is moved to Hamble for repairs and readied for collection on July 24th. The Silver Spitfire then transfers to 39 Maintenance Unit at RAF Colerne on August 19th, 83 GSU at RAF Bognor on September 19th and lastly to RAF Westhampnett (home today to the Boultbee Flight Academy and known as Goodwood Aerodrome) with 83 GSU on November 4th.
She moves to 401 Squadron which were heavily involved in D-Day and the European offensive in 1944 operating in fighter-bomber, ground attack and armed reconnaissance operations.
The Spitfire moves with the Canadian pilots of 401 RCAF (City of Westmount) Squadron to the Netherlands on November 23rd at Volkel. After performing ten dive-bombing missions she is ‘over-stressed’ on December 24th and sent to RCAF 410 – a repair and salvage unit.
On June 21st 1945 MJ271 is delivered to 29 Maintenance Unit at High Ercall before passing on to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) on November 25th the following year with the designation H-8, later becoming 3W-8, the designation she would wear for some 70+ years before rolling into a hangar at Duxford to begin the restoration which transformed her into airworthy condition once again, ready to begin her next adventure as the Silver Spitfire.
Images: The Silver Spitfire