In April 1944 an order was placed for 1,844 Spitfire Mk IXs. As part of that order TA805 was rolled out of the Castle Bromwich factory with the construction number CBAF IX 10372 in the autumn of 1944 and allocated to 39 Maintenance Unit at Colerne on January 3, 1945.
On 24th June 1945 TA805 joined No.183 Squadron based at Chilbolton. In August it was transferred to No. 234 Squadron at Bentwaters.
On 15th September 1945, TA805 took part in the mass fly-past over London commemorating the Battle of Britain and it was subsequently placed in storage until being sold to the South African Air Force.
In April 1949 the aircraft sailed to South Africa aboard the SS Clan McLeod and served with the SAAF until the mid 1950s when it was sold for scrap to a metal company at Salt River.
In 1989 the remains of the Spitfire were returned to the UK and kept, for a few years in storage in Essex.
1992 saw the remains of TA805 being moved to Airframe Assemblies at Sandown on the Isle of Wight. Four years later In 1996, work was started on a restoration to flying condition. It was always intended to use as much of the original aircraft as possible. If because of corrosion or damage, original parts were deemed unservicable, new parts would be manufactured, strictly to the original specification and drawings.
By August 1997 all parts necessary to complete the fuselage were on hand and final assembly in the jig commenced at the end of the month.
By November 1997 new skins had been cut and drilled and by July 1998 the fuselage was completed. Airframe Assemblies then moved to larger premises a short distance away and the newly completed fuselage was towed through the narrow streets of Sandown to the new facility.
The next major step was the building of the wings, installation of hydraulic and pneumatic pipework, installation of cockpit instruments and fixtures and the completion of the tailplane.
Meanwhile the engine was rebuilt to zero-time condition at Retro Track and Air.
By 2003, the fuselage and wings were ready for the move to the ARCO hangar at Duxford for engine fitting and final assembly.
By August 2003 the wings had been fitted and over the next two years the restoration was finished, all systems checked and engine run ups and paperwork completed.
On 5th December 2005, 10 years after the restoration began, TA805 finally took to the air at Duxford on its first test flight.
After completing its flight testing and final adjustments TA805 was flown to Biggin Hill in Kent.
The owners wanted the aircraft to be based at this famous wartime airfield in the south of England to pay tribute to the pilots who operated from there and fought in the skies over Kent.
It was decided to name the aircraft 'Spirit of Kent' in memory of No.131 (County of Kent) Fighter Squadron which was a squadron of Spitfires purchased with donations sent in by the people of Kent. Kent was the first county in Great Britain to raise money for an entire squadron. In recognition of this, the Air Ministry allowed the name of a Kent town or city to be emblazoned on the fuselage of each aircraft, just below the cockpit together with the 'prancing horse’ symbol of Kent. The Commanding Officer’s aircraft carried the marking 'Spirit of Kent'.
In 2012 the team behind TA805 acquired Hangar 528 at Biggin Hill which was renamed 'The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar' and this became the permanent home for TA805 and the growing collection of wartime aircraft housed within.
Built as a Hurricane I by the Canadian Car and Foundry in Spring 1941.
Delivered to the RAF shortly after, it was transferred to the Royal Navy and converted to a Sea Hurricane by July 1942. It was badly damaged in a mid-air collision at RNAS Yeovilton with the airframe being written off and placed in storage. From 1960 till 1970 it remained in storage until the remains were purchased by Jim Pearce of Shoreham in September 1992.
Taken on by Hawker Restorations an indepth restoration to flying condition began during 1994/2000. Registered as G-TWTD, its post restoration flight took place on June 7, 2000 when it was painted in the scheme of Gp Capt Douglas Bader, CO of 242 Squadron in 1940.
Further marked as AE977 LE-D, it became the property of Tom Friedkin/Chino Warbirds Inc in 2001 and was shipped to Galveston from Southampton. It returned to the UK and to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar during 2012 where it joined the ever expanding fleet of warbirds. AE977 is Currently painted to represent Hurricane Mk.I P3886 from 601 ‘County of London’ Squadron, flown from RAF Tangmere in 1940 by Flg Off Carl Davis. Davis was one of a handful of American pilots to fly in the Battle of Britain and he became the first American-born ace of the Second World War before sadly being killed in action during September 1940.
This MkIXc Supermarine Spitfire has an illustrious history, including being a veteran of D-Day and being the first Allied aircraft to land on the continent after the invasion on D-Day +1.
Built in 1944 at Castle Bromwhich, '912 was fitted with a Merlin 66 and allocated the construction number CBAF 8185. Delivered to the RAF on 24th March 1944 at no. 8 MU, it then moved to no. 84 Suppoirt Group at Aston Down on 17th May, before joining 312 (Czech) squadron at Appledram in Sussex. In the hands of pilot M.A. Liskutin, MK912 was active on D-Day, but achieved its claim to fame on D-Day plus one when a flak explosion under the aircraft caused the radio to fall off its shelf inside the fuselage and land on the control cables. Liskutin chose the nearest available field to put the aircraft down, which, fortunately, turned out to be an unfinished Allied airfield being prepared at Bazenville, Normandy. With the help of Army engineers, the radio was lashed into place and Liskutin took off again, flying over German positions and receiving bullet strikes, some of the repqired holes from which are still visible on the airframe to this day. M.A. Liskuitin has been back to Biggin Hill to revisit his old Spitfire and remarked on sitting back in the cockpit "it's just the same," and described the reunion as like "meeting an old friend." After shooting down a V1 in '912 over Maidstone, Liskutin and the other 312 Squadron pilots converted on to H.F.IX Spitfires and '912 found itself back at Aston Down, before going to 64 Squadron and escorting bombers attacking troop concentrations at Arnhem on 1st October 1944.
MK912 went into storage and in 1946 was sold to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, seeing service against terrorists in the Dutch East Indies in 1947.
In 1952, '912 was sold again to the Royal Belgian Air Force, seriving until an accident on 1st July 1953 put paid to its service career.
In 1955 '912 was placed on a concrete plinth as a gate guardian at the Belgian Air Force Technical School at Saffarenberg, sitting there in all weathers for the next 35 years.
After rescue in August 1988, ten years of storage and changing hands followed before restoration began in 1998 by HFL at Audley End.
The first flight after restoration was made on 8th September 2000.
The aircraft was purchaed by a Canadian collector and shipped to Canada arriving on 3rd October 2003.
Finally, in 2011, '912 was brought back to the UK and is now resident at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, where this much-travelled survivor met up with her former pilot. MK912 had come full circle.
TE184 was built as a low-back MK XVI Spitfire with a Packard Merlin 266 engine and delivered to no. 9 MU at Cosford on 30th May 1945.
In September 1946, '184 was prepared for loan to the Belgian Air Force. After being returned, the aircraft was issued to no. 203 Advanced Flying School at Chivenor - which subsequently became no. 226 Operational Conversion Unit. in 1950 it was transferred to 607 RAF Auxilliary Squadron at Ouston.
After a period of storage, '184 was sent to the Central Gunnery School at Leconfield, where on 30th January 1951 it suffered a partial undercarriage collapse - the damage was sufficient to relegate the aircraft to a ground instructional airframe and was given the serial 6850M.
In 1952 '184 was moved to 1855 squadron ATC at Royton in Lancashire, who looked after it until February 1967, when it was taken to Henlow for evaluation for use in the film "The Battle of Britain". It was deemed unusable due to corrosion in the engine bearer and by 1968 had been transferred to the museum colletion at RAF Finningley.
A move to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in 1972 saw a period of storage, after which '184 then went on display outside once again but it's deterioration saw it moved back into storage from where it was aquired by Nick Grace in 1986. A restoration began but Nick was tragically killed in a car accident in 1988 and the work was put on hold.
After the project was sold it's conversion to a high back fuselage was carried out at Trent Aero and on 23rd November 1990 it flew for the first time in it's new configuration. Another period of storage and infrequent use followed but in 2009 '184 was recommissioned and in 2011 it was aquired by Stephen Stead who now bases the aircraft at the Heritage Hangar and also for periods at Bremgarten in Germany.
In 2014 it was given 312 (Czech) Squadron markings and was flown at the Pardubice Air Show in the Czech Republic to rave reviews.
RW382 was ordered in 1944 and built in 1945 as a low-back L.F.XVIe powered by a Packard Merlin 266, and delivered from Castle Bromwich to No.6 MU at Brize Norton on 20th July. It's first unit was No. 604 squadron RAuxAF, where it arrived on 1st April 1947, serving until 14th April 1950, when it was retired to No.33 MU Lyneham. '382 then Joined No.3 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit at Exeter (coded “A”) on 11th June, transferring to the Control and Reporting School at Middle Wallop on 17th October.
Retirement came on 14th July 1953, when it flew to No.45 MU at Kinloss, moving on to No.29 MU at High Ercall two weeks later. It was struck off charge on 14th December 1954. '382 was allocated to No.609 squadron at Church Fenton as an instructional airframe with the serial 7245M on 28th November 1955, then spending 1957-1973 at RAF Leconfield on external display as a gate guard.
Use in the Battle of Britain film followed in 1968 where it was only used for static scenes. After filming was completed it was refurbished and was taken to RAF Uxbridge where it was mounted on a pole for the next fifteen years. In August 1988, '382 was removed and taken to Audley End for restoration to flying condition. Just under three years later RW382 took to the air once more. In 1994 '382 was sold to an American owner, who's son tragically lost his life when the Spitfire crashed in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The wreckage was recovered and returned to the UK in 2001 for storage as a possible rebuild project. 2008 saw the aircraft begin a second rebuild. The completed fuselage was then moved to Biggin Hill for assembly by The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Limited. The first flight after its second restoration was carried out by Clive Denney on 18th September 2013. The aircraft flies in the colours of 322 (Dutch) Squadron - the only Dutch Squadron to be based at Biggin Hill.
Harvard II CCF3064 G-CTKL (1941)
North American Harvard Mk. IIB G-CTKL (RCAF:3064)
23.07.1941Date completed by the Noorduyn Aircraft company at Cartierville, Montreal.
G-CTKL was the 30th Harvard Mk.IIB to be produced by Noorduyn and unlike the majority of the 3400 Mk.IIB’s that were built by this company for Lend-Lease use, this example and the first 200 machines were supplied directly to the RCAF. G-CTKL is the second oldest Mk.IIB surviving today, the oldest being CF-NDB, which was RCAF 3039, the first Mk.IIB to be built.
05.08.1941Taken on charge by the RCAF
10.08.1941On its delivery flight from Upland to Aylmer, the Harvard suffered aileron lockup over Trenton, where the pilot F/Lt ‘Bitsy” Grant made a precautionary landing there.
??.08.1941Entered service with the 14th Service flying Training School at Aylmer, Ontario, where it served with both A and C flights with the buzz number ‘59’.
21.09.1941Suffered a category ‘C’ groundloop.
08.11.1941Len Morgan who is a regular contributor to America’s FLYING magazine with his ‘Vectors’ column, past his “Wings Test”, at Alymer. That was his final flying examination before he received his wings. After landing his instructor sent him up solo. “Do anything you like!”, he said. The aircraft he flew for the next 40 minutes was RCAF 3064. Even after 55 years, he still remembers that flight.
08.03.1942Taxied into a caravan on the edge of the runway.
25.06.1942Suffered another category ‘C’ accident at R-1 (St. Thomas Relief Field). This time, the Harvard was being flown by a J. Kerman, who allowed the aircraft to strike the ground heavily when landing. Cause of the accident was put down to pilot error.
23.11.1942Yet another Category ‘C’ taxing accident. The Harvard was then placed into storage pending a rebuild.
03.05.1944Transferred to Noorduyn for complete rebuild and overhaul.
20.10.1944Placed into storage.
20.12.1947Transferred to the Canadian Car Foundry Ltd at Cartierville (This company took over Noorduyn’s interests in 1946) for an overhaul.
01.05.1948Transferred to the 1st Flying Training School at Centralia, north of London, Ontario.
15.08.1948Transferred to N. 424 Auxilliary Air Force Squadron at Hamilton, Ontario. Harvard wore the codes ‘BA-?’.
No. 424 Sqn was formed at Hamilton on the 15th April 1946 and the Squadron flew Mustangs in the fighter role until 1st September 1957, when it was re-assigned to a light transport and emergency rescue role and re-equipped with Expeditor and Otter aircraft.
20.12.1952A MN31 Radio Compass was installed, thus making the Harvard a Mk.2A. This was a RCAF only designation and should not be confused with
the Mk.IIA that was built by North American and supplied to Commonwealth countries.
Canadian Mk.2A’s were post-war conversions of standard MK.II’s and IIB’s to armament and radio wireless trained configurations.
15.11.1952Transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy at HCMS Shearwater, Nova scotia. When 3064 was here it would been in service with either VC920 Sqn (reserve) or VT40 Sqn Instrument Flying School and Operational Flying Training school.
??.03.1957Overhauled by Aircraft Industries of St. Johns, Quebec.
11.10.1957Struck off charge.
10.12.1957The first available logbook entry gives the flying hours to date as 7,284.
15.04.1957Taken on charge by the Italian Air Force (AMI) as a T-6H-2M and allocated the serial MM54137. The aircraft was accepted at Venezia.
06.07.1965On charge at Lecce and known to be serving with the Scuola Volo Basico Iniziale Aviogetti by September 1972 at the latest. In 1965 it would have been carried SL-?? Codes; in 1959 these would have been S-3-?? Codes.
??.10.1972On charge at Linate, with the Reparto Volo Regione Aerea No. 2, with the codes RM-12.
14.06.1974On this date, the Harvard made its last flight and was then placed into storage at Bergamo. Total time to date was 9,539 hours. Disposal was handled through the USAF, as this aircraft was supplied to Italy under MDAP.
21.11.1981The Harvard arrived at Southampton docks with three other airframes. These had all been purchased by Robs Lamplough and had been transported through France before being shipped across the Channel. All four machines were stored at Botley in Hampshire, after spending a few weeks at the old Supermarine works at Woolston.
22.04.1983Harvard acquired by Tim Lane and moved to Toller Porcorum, Dorset the following month.
22.11.1983The registration G-BKWZ was originally allocated to the airframe, but this was soon changed to G-CTKL, these being the owners initials.
21.04.1987First engine runs took place at Toller Porcorum. Wings were then detached and the Harvard was towed to Dunkeswell Airfield in Devon for final assembly and preparation for ‘first’ flight. The Harvard was painted to represent a SNJ-# of the US NAVY circa. 1941.
10.06.1987First flight with Norman Lees of the Harvard formation Team at the controls.
08.09.1987Acquired by Jeff A. CARR at Dunkeswell.
1911Acquired by Gavin Keegan at North Weald.
1998Acquired by A.P. Williams.
15.05.2001Acquired by Mike Simpson and based at North Weald.
2003-2004Moved to Rochester, Kent where it was overhauled and repainted by the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society ( MAPS)as FE 788, a Harvard IIB, which had been operated by A & AEE at Boscombe Down from December 1943 until it was struck off and scrapped on 04.09.54.
2011- present dayBased at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, Biggin Hill.
L4H CUB 11145 G-BMKC (1943)
L-4H Cub 43-29854 is a genuine warbird - it wears a most interesting WW2 colour scheme with the red triangle markings of the USAAC 381st Bomb Group (B17) from USAF Ridgewell, Essex.
Built in 1943, this L-4H Cub has made Biggin Hill its home since 2011.
LZ842 was built at Castle Bromwich in April 1943 with construction number CBAF 5056. With a Merlin 63 engine fitted it was deliverd on 17th April 1943 to no. 39 MU for radio and armament installation, before going onwards to no. 82 MU at Lichfireld on 29th April, where it was packed for overseas shipment. On 11th May it was loaded aboard the SS Fort Jersey, arriving at Casablanca on 30th May for service with the Middle East Air Force. After service with 93 and 232 squadrons, in Malta and Sicily, it joined 327 (Free French) Squadron. During its time with this squadron it was damaged when it struck a hidden bomb crater and overturned. Storage in Belgium and the UK followed, before being allocated to the South African Air Force in 1948. '842's South African service remains a mystery but she turned up at a scrapyard in 1952 at Salt River. '842 and a number of other Spitfire airframes were recovered in the 1970s by the SAAF museum, from whom's store it was purchased and repatriated to the UK in 1989. A period of restoration in Australia followed but by 2003 LZ842 was back in the UK and the restoration you see today was started in earnest.
Spitfire LF MkIXe (CBAF IX 558) G-JGCA (1945)
TE517 was delivered to no. 33 MU at RAF Lyneham on 2nd June 1945. Being too late to see action, '517 was issued to 313 (Czech) Squadron at RAF Manston on 25th July before the unit departed for Czechoslavakia on 7th August. A weather delay stranded the aircraft at Hildesheim, Germany for six days, the Spitfires finally arriving in Prague on the 13th. Czech service lasted until January 1949 when a number of Spitfires, including '517 were transferred to Israel. In 1956 its service career ended after serving with 101 and 105 Squadrons (the latter being the Spitfire O.T.U. at Ramat David. After a period in storage, '517 was given to a Kibbutz at Gaaton for children to play on. During the mid-1970s the now-dilapidated aircraft was discovered by an English collector, acquired and then dismantled for transport to the UK. Restoration to flying condition was commenced in 1978. In 1984 '517 was bought by Charles Church, losing its wings to another of his projects in the process. 1989 saw '517 change hands again, this time to Florida-based collector Kermit Weeks. The aircraft remained in the UK however and was offered at auction but failed to meet its reserve. Moving forward, it was 2005 until any significant events happened, it changed hands twice again and has been under restoration by The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Ltd since 2012.