The Warbird population at Scone, NSW continues to grow with the recent announcement that another Spitfire MH415 is soon to arrive there from the USA where it had been in storage for many years as part of the legendary ‘Connie’ Edwards collection in Texas. The aircraft is owned by Warbirds Flight Club, a newly formed Australian company which will specialize in sourcing and restoring Historic aircraft.
The aircraft in question is another of the desirable Mk IX version being Spitfire HF Mk. IXb MH415. This aircraft was built in 1943 by Vickers Armstrongs Ltd at the famous Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory in the UK, with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 as part of production batch with the serial range MH413-456.
The Spitfire hasn’t flown for 42 years and although complete will require a full overhaul at the experienced and capable hands of Pay’s Air Service at Scone NSW. However, given its regular maintenance and service history it should be relatively straightforward compared to the other Spitfire under restoration there, Mk IX MH 603.
MH415 is probably the most original remaining unrestored Spitfire in private hands in the world. As such, it is a real time capsule and it is the intention to restore it to flight, retaining as much of the original authenticity as possible.
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.
By now the Spitfire was becoming a little tired and 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 Armstrongs at Oxford in January 1945 for rectification and repair on completion of which 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 Id’s 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 gaggle of Messerschmitt’s (actually Spanish built Merlin engined Hispano Buchions) 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. It was repainted in 222 squadron codes ZD-E. MH415 and only flew sparingly in the USA and totaled just 36 hours there until it was stored on Edwards Farm in 1973.
In 2014, the Spitfire and the Buchions were advertised by Platinum Fighter Sales from whom it was purchased and is on its way to Scone, NSW.
Warbirds Online will be reporting on the arrival and rebuild of this new Spitfire at Scone along with the ongoing restoration work occurring there on the other Warbirds.
All images are courtesy © Platinum Fighters.
© John Parker 2015