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Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Walk Around Photo Feature

Subject: Spitfire FR Mk. XVIIIe

This is a Submarine Spitfire FR Mk. XVIIIe, it is one of the Griffin powered variants that were produced. The Rolls-Royce Griffon Engine was designed to Royal Navy Specifications for an engine capable of having good power at low altitudes. The Griffon-engined Spitfires were never produced in the large numbers as the Merlin-engined variants, they were still an important part of the Spitfire family, and in their later versions kept the aircraft at the edge of piston-engined fighter development. The Mark 18 was built in both the Fighter and Fighter Reconnaissance versions, and missed the war because they did not become operational until January 1947 when 60 Squadron which operated from RAF Seletar, Singapore was equipped with the aircraft.

According to some photos from its time at The Fighter Collection in Duxford the markings for this aircraft are for the 28 Squadron and with Korean War recognition stripes. This aircraft has a very diverse and interesting history.

SM969 was built in 1945 and delivered to No 6 maintenance Unit in August 1945. Then it was shipped out to the Royal Indian Airforce in 1946. It crashed during an aerobatics display on December 12th 1946, killing the pilot. The remains of the aircraft were returned to the UK and delivered to No 47 Maintenance Unit, (for rebuild & repair?) and was sold to R.J. Parkes, who sold it back to the Royal Indian Air Force and was given the serial HS877, untill it ended its career with the Now Indian Air Force as a Gate Guardian at HQ Western Air Command, Delhi in 1972.

After being retired as a Gate Guadian the aircraft remained in Delhi until recovered by Hydon-Ballie in July 1978 where the aircraft was again returned to the UK and sold to doug Arnold to be rebuilt at Blackbushe for the Warbirds of Great Britain. After being restored it first flew again on October 12, 1985, and registered as G-BRAF. In late 1992 the plane was sold and shipped to the USA. Returned to the UK again in 2006 after being acquired by The Fighter Collection at Duxford. After another Restoration being completed the aircraft spent most of its time in Duxford's Hanger 2 and was not flown.

In late 2008 SM969 was sold to Jim Beasley an American warbird pilot and shipped to the USA, where it joined the American civil register as N969SM the aircraft made its first flight since 1992 on December 21, 2008 at Chester County Airport in Pennsylvania.

These photos were taken at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's WWII Weekend and Airshow in Reading PA.

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