Project Description

Spitfire BM597 VB  G-MKVB | Historic Aircraft Collection Ltd

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Duxford
  • OWNER: Historic Aircraft Collection
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1942
  • LENGTH: 9.11 m/29 ft 11 in
  • WINGSPAN: 11.23 m/36 ft 10 in
  • ENGINE: Rolls-Royce Merlin 45
  • MAXIMUM SPEED: 374mph
  • RANGE: 756 km/470 miles
  • ARMAMENT: 2x20mm Hispano cannons and 4x .303 Vickers machine guns

Spitfire BM597

Combat veteran, Spitfire BM597 (G-MKVB) is one of 1000 Spitfires Mk.Vb built at Castle Bromwich against contract B981687/39. Delivered to No.37 Maintenance Unit at Burtonwood on 26 February 1942, she was assigned to 315 (Polish) Sqn on 7 May 1942 and on to 317 (Polish)Sqn on 5 September 1942, both at Woodvale.

On 13 February 1943, she suffered Cat B damage was repaired and back with No. 33 M.U. on 9 June before being allocated to Vickers Armstrong for an undisclosed purpose. BM597 returned to No.39 M.U. Colerne on 23 November before moving to No. 222 M.U.High Ercall (Packing Depot) on 4 January 1944 and then back to No. 39 M.U. on 14 April. BM597 was stored there for almost a year until issued to No. 58 OTU, its last operational unit from which it was retired on 16 October 1945. BM597 was then transferred to instructional airframe status at No. 4 S of TT, St Athan as 5713M.

Following St Athan, Spitfire BM597 was assigned to Hednesford (1950-1955, Bridgenorth (1955-1960) and Church Fenton (1960-1989) as gate guardian. On 23 January 1967 she was dispatched from Henlow to Pinewood where it was used as the master for the moulds that were made to cast the fibre glass replicas used in the film ‘Battle of Britain’. Remaining at Pinewood until August 1968 when it was returned to Henlow and finally to Church Fenton in 1969. Tim Routsis, the founder of Historic Flying, recovered the aircraft in 1989 as part of a deal with the RAF and sold it to HAC in 1993 with Historic Flying undertaking the complete restoration to original specification and flies now in the colours of 317 Squadron, though in an earlier camouflage paint scheme.

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