Supermarine Spitfire Mk LFIXb
Operator: Air Leasing Ltd
Year of Manufacture: 1943
Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin 70
Colour Scheme: Royal Air Force, 222 Squadron
Supermarine Spitfire MH415 was constructed in 1943 at Castle Bromwich UK. The aircraft was delivered to RAF No.129 (Mysore) Squadron at Hornchurch in August 1943, and wore the squadron codes ”DV-G” and was often flown by the C.O. Sqn Ldr Gonay. Records show that MH 415 was in the thick of the action with 129 Sqn, regularly participating in missions over Europe.
In October 1943, the Spitfire moved on to No. 222 (Natal) Squadron in October 1943 where she continued to participate in more sweeps across the continent.
The Spitfire was retired in 2 January, 1944 to a role with the Air Fighting Development Unit at RAF Wittering. Then in September 1944 MH415 was delivered to No. 126 Squadron at Bradwell Bay, Essex.
The aircraft was next noted at Vickers Armstrong’s at Oxford in January 1945 for rectification and repair. On completion it went to No.6 Maintenance Unit (MU) at Brize Norton for storage. On 6th February MH415 went to De Havilland’s at Whitney in Oxfordshire for a complete rebuild, following which it ended its RAF service with No.9 MU at Cosford in storage again.
Post War, the Spitfire was sold to the Dutch Air Force in 1946 and in 1947 was shipped to Java as Dutch AF H-108 and H-65 with 332 Sqn. The Spitfire returned to Holland and was re-serialed B-12. MH415 passed to The Belgian Air Force in 1953 as SM-40, but only served a further 3 years before being retired in 1956.
Following Military service MH415 was converted and utilized by a Belgian company as a target towing aircraft for a contract to the Belgian and other air Forces. The Spitfire wore the civil registration OO-ARD and an attractive blue and white paint scheme.
In the early 1960’s the Spitfire appeared in various Motion Pictures including “The Longest Day” and at some Airshows. The aircraft was by now in the ownership of Rousseau Aviation of Dinhard in France and was not utilized for a number of years.
During 1966 aircraft were being gathered to participate in the “Battle of Britain” (BoB) movie and MH415 was acquired and overhauled. The Spitfire was utilized in filming of the BoB movie both in the UK and Spain flying 125 hours and wearing identities, N3312/AI-C, N3311/CD-B, N3321/AI-M, N2210/CD-A, N3310/AI-A, N3322/AI/N, N3319/DO-K and N3314/AI-E.
Following the BoB movie, the Spitfire along with another and a number of Messerschmitt’s (actually Spanish built Merlin engined Hispano Buchons) were taken in lieu of payment for film flying duties by USA pilot Wilson ‘Connie’ Edwards and moved to Texas USA in 1969 where it was registered N415MH.
The Spitfire was repainted in 222 squadron codes ZD-E. MH415 only flew sparingly in the USA and totalled just 36 hours there until it was stored on Edwards Farm in 1973.
In 2014, the Spitfire was purchased from Platinum Fighter Sales and shipped to Vintage Fighter Restorations at Scone, NSW.
MH415, registered G-AVDJ, flew for the first time on 8 April 2021 from Sywell, Northamptonshire, UK with Peter Kynsey at the controls. Refurbished jointly by Australia-based Vintage Fighter Restorations and Richard Grace's Air Leasing Ltd in the United Kingdom
MH415 is one of the most authentic Spitfires to fly today.
Images: Richard Paver