Supermarine Spitfire XV TE184 | Stephen Stead

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Biggin Hill
  • OWNER: Stephen Stead
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1945
  • LENGTH:  9.60 m/31ft 6in
  • WINGSPAN: 9.93 m/32ft 7in
  • ENGINE: Packard Merlin 266
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:  415mph
  • RANGE: 724 km/449 miles
  • ARMAMENT: 4 x 0.303 machine guns and 2 x 20mm cannon

Spitfire TE184 was built as a low back canopy Mk XVIe at Castle Bromwich in May 1945. Derived from the Mk IX they were designed mainly as a low altitude fighter and fighter bomber with the essential difference from the Mk IX being the use of an American Packard built Merlin 266 instead of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66.

After delivery to 9 Maintenance Unit (MU) at RAF Cosford, Spitfire TE184 was put into a lengthy period of storage which included moves to 20 MU and 6 MU at Brize Norton. Spitfire TE184 finally found flying action when she was issued to No.203 Advanced Flying School at Stradishall, Suffolk in September 1948 followed by a stint with No 607 RAuxAF at Ouston Northumberland before being placed back in storage at 33MU, Lyneham in June 1950.

Returned from storage and issued to the Central Gunnery School, Leconfield in November 1950 she suffered a starboard undercarriage collapse on landing in January 1951 which brought her flying career to an end. Spitfire TE184 was then used for ground instructional use with No 64 Reserve Centre, Long Benton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with the maintenance serial 6850M. In 1952 she was moved to No 1855 Squadron Air Training Corps, Royton, Lancashire as a static exhibit where she remained until February 1967 when she was taken to RAF Bicester and used as a static airframe in the film ‘The Battle of Britain’.

Following completion of film work in 1968, Spitfire TE184 moved to RAF Cranwell as a gate guard before moving to RAF Finningley to join the museum collection there. In August 1970, TE184 was on the move again and transferred to 5MU, Kemble and then to 23MU, Aldergrove in 1971 for storage before going on display at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Holywood, in March 1977.

In 1986 Spitfire TE184 was sold to Spitfire restorer Nick Grace. Following his death in a car accident in October 1988, TE184 was acquired by Myrick Aviation Services with the civilian registration of G-MXVI in February 1989. With a complete restoration and rebuild to airworthy condition as a high back Mk XVI with Trent Aero Service, Castle Donington, a first post restoration flight was carried out on the 23rd November 1990.

Spitfire TE184 then moved to Hawker Restorations in December 1996 was then sold on to Alain de Cadenet in 1995. TE184 appeared at the Duxford Spitfire Air Show in May 1998 and May 1999 in the desert camouflage colours of the 308th Fighter Squadron, USAAF, Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, representing ‘Fargo Express’/HL-K as flown by Captain Leland.P.Holland. TE184 appeared at the Duxford 60th Anniversary Battle of Britain Air Show in September 2000 wearing Free French Air Force markings of French roundels and fin flash and the code letter D and invasion stripes on the lower fuselage before going into storage at RAF Halton in 2001.

Spitfire TE184 was flown to Duxford in March 2004 for maintenance work with the Old Flying Machine Company in Hangar 3. In October 2006, TE184 was sold to Paul Andrews/G2 Trust based at Booker, Bucks and the aircraft underwent a full refurbishment with Personal Plane Services at Booker. In February 2009, TE184 went for another post restoration flight in the hands of Jonathan Whaley, appearing at the 70th Anniversary Battle of Britain Air Show at Duxford on the 4th September 2010 in the personal markings of Wg Cdr Edward Francis John ‘Jack’ Charles with the code letters of EJC on the fuselage and red spinner as flown on Spitfire Mk IXe(PT396) by Wg Cdr Charles at Tangmere in March 1945.

In April 2011, Spitfire TE184 was sold to current owner Stephen Stead who flyes her throughout Europe from her base at Biggin Hill.

Photo Gallery