Vickers-Armstrong (Aircraft) Ltd. Spitfire MK XXII – PK624
PK624 was built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, nearBirmingham, in the UK during 1945. She was given the constructorsnumber CBAF189 and, on completion, was allocated to No33 MU who were based at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, on the 12th of December ’45.
The aircraft was to spend the first year of her existence in storage with 33MU, not being transferred to the Vickers Armstrongs South Marston works for modification work until the 5th of December the following year. Details of the work carried out are not available at the moment, but the machine remained with Vickers until the 29th of May 1947 before passing back into storage, this time with No 6 MU at RAF Brize Norton who recorded her arrival seven days after the completion of the mods at South Marston.
PK624 then remained in storage with 6MU for a total of fourteen months before an allocation to No 614 (County of Glamorgan) RAuxAFSquadron took her to RAF Llandow in Wales, where she arrived on the25th of August, 1948. Her duties, as yet unknown, with 614 sqn lasted for over two years,until she was removed from operational service and again placed in storage with her previous allocation, No 6 MU at RAF Brize Norton,where she arrived on the 31st of October 1950. Her stay was to be a short one this time as she staged through 9 MUat RAF Cosford before being recorded as being with Air Service Training(AST) at Gatwick from the 17th of January 1951 under a Vickers refurbishment contract which could have seen her become one of the number of Mk22 Spitfires to pass to the Syrian military authorities at about this time.
The refurbishment work was completed, the sale to Syria was not, andPK624 found her way back to No 9 MU at RAF Cosford, arriving there onthe 24th of July 1952. Her days with the RAF were numbered however, when the aircraft was declared non-effective on the 16th of June 1953, and then sold back toVickers Armstrongs on the 4th of February 1954. Quite what Vickers did with the aircraft after buying her back fromthe RAF isn’t clear, but it was to be early 1957 before she re-appeared again, this time on the strength of the Station Flight at RAF North Weald, home of No 604 RAuxAF squadron.It is likely that a member of 604 Sqn privately owned her at this time and that she was operating unofficially in military markings.When 604 Sqn were disbanded in November of 1964, the aircraft, without its Griffon engine, was displayed on the gate of the station for a time. It was moved to the gate at RAF Uxbridge during 1960 and repainted,somehow being given the Chipmunk serial WP916 in the process!In 1963 she was removed from Uxbridge, her correct serial was restored to her, and she was transferred to the gate at RAF Northolt where she was to remain, apart from some renovation work which took place in 1968, until the 23rd of July 1970. Abingdon was to be her new home from that point onwards, she guarded the gate in her newly applied 614 Sqn colours, which she still arrived wearing at TFC. She remained at Abingdon until the great Spitfire shuffle of 1988/89 took her along with a number of other historic gate guardian aircraft, to RAF St Athan in south Wales and some sort of protection from the elements. She arrived at St Athan on the 1st of August 1989.
In October of 1994, successful negotiations having been completed between The Fighter Collection and the MoD for her disposal, a small party from Duxford dismantled the aeroplane and transported the bits back to Cambridgeshire, arriving late in the afternoon of the 11th. Once unpacked, the aeroplane was placed in TFC’s extensive store and left until sufficient amounts time, money and manpower coincided.
In mid May 1997, the fuselage and wings were removed from store and, and the process of stripping the fuselage of both paint and its fixtures began.
The entire fuselage has been stripped of all its internal components, which have been stored for further attention, and the whole fuselage has been de-greased and cleaned to allow a closer inspection of the metal work underneath the paint and grime of the last 40 years.
Preparation for her restoration are in progress , and when she flies she will, being the first Spitfire Mk Twenty-something to have done so since Jack Malloch lost his life in his Mk22 in Zimbabwe in 1982.
|Manufacturer: VICKERS-ARMSTRONGS (AIRCRAFT) LTDMaximum
Take off Weight: —
Year Built: 1945
Engine: ROLLS-ROYCE GRIFFON 61