Spitfire T.IX PT462
Spitfire PT462 was originally part of a batch ordered on 17th July 1943 and built at Castle Bromwich as an H.F.IXe and powered by a Merlin 70 engine. It was delivered to 39 Maintenance Unit (M.U.) at Colerne, Wiltshire on 21st July 1944 but was soon moved to 215 M.U. at Dumfries, Scotland on 31st July for packing for shipping overseas. It was transported on board the Silver Sandal on 9th August and arrived for the Mediterranean Allied Air Force on 23rd of the same month. It is next noted as being issued to No.4 Squadron, South African Air Force on 19th November and coded “KJ-Z”, and was based initially at Bellaria, on the Italian Adriatic coast before moving to Forli in December.
Returned to the RAF on 5th January 1945 it may have seen further service in the hands of both 73 and 326 Sqns but by April 1945 it was being operated by 253 Sqn and coded “SW-A”. The Sqn spent time in Yugoslavia, Italy and Austria before disbanding on 16th May 1947. PT462 was stored at Treviso before being sold to the Italian Air Force on 26th June 1947 and later given the Italian serial number MM4100 when in service with 5 Stormo based at Orio al Serio, near Bergamo, to the east of Milan.
Later sold to the Israeli Air Force it was flown out to the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) plant at Lydda in April 1952. The aircraft was now given the identity of 20-67 and carried the call sign code “67” on its fuselage side and served with 105 Sqn at Ramut David Air Force Base. The Israelis retired their last 16 remaining Spitfires in 1956 and 20-67 was ferried to IAI Lod for storage bearing the civilian registration 4X-FOM. The IAF later donated a number of airframes to various Kibbutz for display and 20-67 was given to Kibbutz Kfar-Gaza.
In 1976 the now derelict airframe was discovered with its faded 4 Sqn markings of “KJ-Z” showing through its dilapidated paintwork. After a number of years the remains of the Spitfire were buried at the municipal rubbish dump until Duxford based collector Robs Lamplough tracked down its whereabouts and recovered it to his storage facility at Fowlmere, Cambridge on 10th May 1983. At this point it consisted of the propeller hub, engine and front fuselage section to just aft of the cockpit. There were no wings, aft fuselage or tail section. The remains were sold to upcoming Spitfire collector Charles Church and moved to his workshop in Hampshire in July 1984, where a return to flying condition was instigated.
Under Chief Engineer Dick Melton, the aeroplane was rebuilt into a two seat Spitfire and utilised the wings from another ex-Israeli Spitfire TE517. These wings were rebuilt to PRXI configuration and incorporated that specific marks large leading edge fuel tank, significantly increasing the available fuel tank capacity and giving increased range of operation as a result. The low two seat canopy modification pioneered by Nick Grace and Dick Melton was incorporated, giving the overall profile a more streamlined shape than the original Vickers-Supermarine factory built two-seat canopy arrangement. A new tail section was constructed by Air Repair at Bicester and an overhauled Rolls Royce Merlin 66 came from Aviation Jersey Ltd.
The rebuilt Spitfire, now registered as G-CTIX was first flown by Shuttleworth Collection Chief Pilot, John Lewis on 25th July 1987. Once its test flying was completed it was painted in an unusual green and Blue camouflage scheme at Little Staughton. During ground testing a catastrophic internal engine failure occurred and a replacement Packard Merlin 224 was fitted which is still with the aircraft today. Following the untimely death of Charles Church in 1989 the Spitfire was disposed of by his estate and moved to Florida in 1994, where it became N462JC with Mike Araldi’s Jet Cap Aviation at Bartow. It was during this ownership that the current paint-scheme was applied to represent its time as “SW-A” with 253 Sqn.
Jet Cap Aviation later changed its plans and the Spitfire was placed up for disposal and in February 1998 was sold to Anthony Hodgson of Towyn, Wales, reverting to its British registration of G-CTIX on 28th April. John Romain and John “Smudge” Smith of The Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC) joined Anthony Hodgson, his brother Jeff and his engineer Dave Budden and travelled to Bartow to dismantle PT462 for shipping back to Duxford where it arrived on 30th April 1998. After re-assembly and certification the Spitfire returned to the air on 5th August 1998 in the hands of John Romain. Once checked out in September of the same year, Anthony Hodgson based his Spitfire at his private strip in North Wales where he continued to fly and display it at a variety of shows. Ferried to ARC at Duxford on 6th August 2017 for its annual servicing, ARC acquired the aircraft on 9th October 2017 and it is now part of their fleet based at Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire.