Warbirds Online looks into the past of a Supermarine Spitfire restoration HF Mk.9 RR232 which was imported into Australia and then rebuilt to static standard and made its way to the UK where it was finally rebuilt to fly again.
It was fairly unusual in the 1980’s in that the aircraft was not an Australian sourced machine as most of the wrecks and restorations in Australia at that time were MkIIIV or MkV ex RAAF sourced aircraft. This aircraft was sold by Supermarine and delivered to the South African Air Force (SAAF) as 5632. It was brought on charge in May 1949 and served a quiet life until retired and scrapped in Jan 1954.
Peter Sledge of Sydney sourced the wreck of this aircraft (by then only a bare fuselage) from South Africa in 1976 from the famous South African Metal & Machinery Co., Salt River, and Cape Town, South Africa group of wrecks.
Peter spent the period from 1976 to 1984 completing a full static rebuild of the aircraft which was then placed on display at the FAA Museum Nowra, NSW from 1985-1986. Peter used parts sourced from many places to complete the aircraft including wings from Thailand. The engine was in fact not a Spitfire Merlin but was an RAAF Avro Lincoln unit which caused a little problem in the restoration process as it was a bit too long for the usual cowlings!
As is the case with many Australian based Spitfire projects, RR232 was purchased by UK interests and in 1986 it made its way to the collection of the late Charles Church, Micheldever, UK from 1986-1989. In 1989 RR232 passed to Sussex Spraying Services, Ltd, Shoreham, Nov. 22, 1989-1995.
In 2001 the aircraft passed on to Martin Phillips of Newton St Cyres, Devon UK and fully restored to flight as G-BRSF and flew on 18 December 2012, it then spent several quiet years but is believed to be again flying in the UK. Martin has in the meantime commenced the rebuild of a Tr.9 two seater.
Warbirds Online saw the restoration of this machine in Australia several times including when it was displayed at Nowra many years ago Today we present a few of our images of this great aircraft and of course one with Peter Sledge.
© John Parker 2016