Eighty years since the first flight. Which means it was twenty years ago this summer that I was sitting at Duxford with my late dad watching the Spitfire Diamond Jubilee Airshow. And what would he have thought about the return of the two Mark 1 Spitfires? He’d have loved it. I read somewhere years ago that there are more airworthy Spitfires now than there were in 1960. This number must be steadily increasing.
Personally I always thought there was something exotic about the so-called “low-back” or bubble-canopied mark IX and Mark XVI Spitfires. You saw them preserved all over the place. I even took a few pictures of TD248 while it was still on top of a pole at RAF Sealand in the 1980s. I never thought I’d see one flying around, and now we have three, at least since TE311 flies with the BBMF and RW386 is in Sweden. I was going to include RW382 but I’d forgotten it was restored from low-back to high-back configuration.
The influx of Mark XIVs and Mark XVIIIs from India have given us a couple more exotic models. I followed NH904 (now N114BP formerly G-FIRE) from England in the 1980s to Palm Springs, California and took its picture in 2010. It’s painted to look like a Mark 24 Spitfire of 80 Squadron for some reason. At some point I ought to travel down to Dallas and catch the Mark VIII MT719 since there aren’t many of those around at all.
The Seafires have been an amazing addition, and we have somewhere down the line the prospect of EN224, the prototype Spitfire Mark XII, and one of the Seafire FR46s that Peter Arnold recovered some time ago also taking to the skies. Anticipation is a wonderful thing.