A pleasant surprise for all Warbird enthusiasts in Australia was the recent announcement by Archerfield Qld based Fighter Pilot that they are importing a Supermarine Spitfire XVIe, RAF Serial TE392 from the USA.
The aircraft is a single seater and will be based at Archerfield for use as a display aircraft. Until recently the aircraft has been in the ownership of Lone Star Flight Museum, Ellington Field, Houston, Texas. The aircraft was shipped recently from the USA via New Zealand and its arrival in Brisbane is imminent. The Fighter Pilot organization is rapidly gaining a reputation for the acquisition of some excellent Warbirds including Yakovlev Yak-52, Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, North American P-51D Mustang, Yakovlev Yak-3 (SteadFast) and Waco Classic YMF-5. Fighter Pilot participates in many airshows across Australia and also has a successful business offering a wide range of “pay for ride” flights in their fantastic fleet of aircraft.
Once the Spitfire arrives it will be fully inspected and any required maintenance will be attended to. She will then be assembled and test flown prior to joining the Fighter Pilot fleet. The plan is then for the Spitfire to be displayed as much as possible.
The Spitfire Mk XVI was in fact almost identical to the Mk IX except for the use of a USA built Packard Merlin 266 instead of the Mk IX‘s Rolls Royce Merlin 66. The fuselage of the Mk XVI was produced as a conventional high back and later as a low back with a bubble canopy.
Supermarine Spitfire TE392 History
TE 392 was built at the main Castle Bromwich Vickers Supermarine plant in 1945 as a LF Mk. XVIe bubble canopy low back aircraft. Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE392 was delivered to the RAF in 1945. However its service history is not fully known and following WWII the aircraft served as a gate guard with different RAF bases including Wellesbourne Mountford, RAF Waterbeach, (Castle Bromwich) RAF Kemble and RAF Credenhill. Douglas W. Arnold, Warbirds of Great Britain Ltd, acquired the Spitfire in 1984 and it was stored a various UK sites until 1992 when it was sold to Mike Araldi of Jet Cap Aviation Corp, Bartow FL and restoration was completed including conversion to a high back configuration. B. D. “Buddy” Hunter of Houston Texas acquired the aircraft in 1996 and it was donated to Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston Texas and flew again on 24 December 1999. The Spitfire was repainted in what is believed to be its Second World War colors (TE392/ZX-Z) in commemoration of Texan Lance C. Wade, a volunteer who flew with the RAF from 1940 to 1944 and became an ace. The aircraft then flew with the LSFM until in 2008 the aircraft was subjected to being submerged in the floodwaters associated with Hurricane Ike. Following this the aircraft was again placed into storage but soon after was repaired and restored but has not flown since.
It is a goal of Fighter Pilot to have TE932 flying in time to appear at the Temora Aviation Museum’s Warbirds Downunder Airshow 2018 on October 12 – October 13 so that it can fly alongside Australia’s other Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI, VH-XVI Military S/N: TB863 of the TAM collection.
Fighter Pilot has also revealed their intention to acquire a second Spitfire, this time a Tr.9 two seater to allow for passengers to experience the Spitfire performance for themselves in 2019.
In other exciting news Fighter Pilot has also acquired a North American SNJ5 registered VH-USN, previously with the Archerfield based Flying Fighters Collection and it hoped to have this aircraft flying within the next 3 weeks.
Warbirds Online thanks Fighter Pilot for their assistance with this news article and we will continue to cover this Warbird as it takes to Australian skies for the first time.
Images courtesy of
- Air Britain Photographic Images Collection
- David A Ingham
- Brian Silcox
- RA Scholefield – AIRLINERS.NET
- Fighter Pilot
- Online Sources
- John Parker
© John Parker 2018