Supermarine Spitfire MK Vc AR501 was built by Westland Aircraft at Yeovil as a Mark VC and issued in 1942 to No 310 (Czech) Squadron based at Duxford. During 1942 and 1943 she undertook escort duties to USAAF bombers, including the famous ‘Memphis Belle’, of the 91st Bombardment Group. After WW2 AR501 was used as an instructional airframe at Loughborough College before being acquired by the Shuttleworth Collection in 1961, together with the Collection’s Sea Hurricane, in exchange for a Jet Provost.
In 1968 the aircraft was returned to flight for the Battle of Britain film. A major overhaul was carried out in the early 1970s. The aircraft was airworthy from 1977-2005, then removed from service for overhaul. AR501 was displayed for many years in the clipped wing configuration which further improved maneuverability at low levels, bearing the livery of No.310 (Czech) Squadron while on operations in 1942-43. In mid 2000 the elliptical wingtips were refitted when the aircraft took part in the filming of Pearl Harbor, in which it played a fictitious member of an Eagle Squadron. In 2005 the Spitfire was due for a major overhaul but, as the previous significantly major overhaul had been as far back as 1975, after careful inspection the decision was made to undertake a complete strip down and rebuild to original specification with areas of the structure still showed evidence of wartime repairs.
Following a 10 year in house restoration by Shuttleworth’s full-time engineering team and the collection’s skilled volunteers, Spitfire MK Vc AR501 made her first post restoration flight back on March 20th 2018 and wears the original livery of RAF 310 (Czech) Squadron, with whom she saw front-line service during 1942-1943.