Supermarine Spitfire IX MH434 | Merlin Aviation Ltd

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Duxford
  • OWNER: The Fighter Collection
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1944
  • LENGTH:  9.95 m/32 ft 8 in
  • WINGSPAN: 11.23 m/36 ft 10 in
  • ENGINE: Rolls-Royce Merlin 66
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:  446mph
  • RANGE: 740 km/460 miles
  • ARMAMENT: 2 × 20 mm Hispano II cannon; 120 rpg, 2 × 0.50 in Browning M2 machine guns; 250 rpg

Supermarine Spitfire MH434 was built in 1943 at Vickers, Castle Bromwich and is in remarkably original condition. First flown in August 1943 by legendary Supermarine Test Pilot Alex Henshaw, she was allocated to 222 Squadron where South African pilot Flt Lt Henry Lardner-Burke achieved 3 and a half kills. After a brief period in 1944 with 350 Squadron at Hornchurch MH434 returned to 222 Squadron this time flown by Flt Sgt Alfred ‘Bill’ Burge who flew 12 operational sorties in her before the squadron’s Mk Ixs were exchanged for a rocket carrying variant. After over 80 operational sorties, MH434 was stood down in March 1945.

In 1947 Supermarine Spitfire MH434 was bought by the Royal Netherlands Air Force where she served with 322 Squadron as H-105 on mainly ground strafing and light bombing missions in Java where she crash landed and was put into storage. After Spitfire MH434 was repaired and shipped back to Holland she flew again on the 10th March 1953.

The Belgian Air Force became the next owner of this Spitfire and as SM-41 she served at the Advanced Pilot School at Koksijde and with 13 Wing at Brustem. Put up for sale, she was bought by airline pilot Tim Davies and brought back to the UK and registered as G-ASJV. Initially based at Stansted she was sent to Elstree for a full overhaul. Being flown purely for pleasure, MH434 stared in the film Operation Crossbow, a fictional account of the WWII mission of the same name followed by the ‘Battle of Britain’ as part of the air force of Spitfire Productions Ltd. Once filming was complete in 1968 MH434 was put up for sale again and bought by Sir Adrian Swire who was the Chairman of Cathay Pacific Airways. Swire had MH434 repainted in 1944 camouflage colour scheme with his initials AC-S, as squadron codes in which she made several film and TV appearance including ‘A Bridge Too Far.’

In April 1983 MH434 was sold at auction to Ray Hanna of Nalfire Aviation Ltd and became one of the founding aircraft of the Old Flying Machine Company. Her first major rebuild took place over winter 1994 before MH434 went on to star in further movies as well as numerous airshow performances in the authentic 222 Squadron colours.

MH434 is now based at Duxford, where she is maintained and operated by the Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC).

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