Supermarine Spitfire PR.XI P1983, registration G-PRXI, has recently emerged from the paint shop of Historic Flying Ltd. in Duxford, United Kingdom. Sporting a new paint scheme, the Spitfire now wears the wartime photo reconnaissance blue livery of its first assignment, serving in Europe with the RAF’s 4th Squadron.
After serving with the 4th Squadron, the plane was transferred to the 2nd Squadron, stationed in Germany as part of the post-war occupation and was subsequently placed on loan to Vickers-Armstrong who supplied it to the American Air Attaché for use as a personal transport. Famously raced by wartime Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, Lettice Curtis, it later passed to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden in the UK where is was put on static display.
The plane’s restoration to airworthy condition was started by a volunteer team at the Shuttleworth Collection but the plane was sold prior to completion to the wartime French pilot Roland Frassinet who sent the plane to Trent Aero Engineering for the completion of the restoration project and began making the rounds of the air show circuit in 1984. The plane was acquired in the late eighties by noted collector Doug Arnold and while it was featured in the TV series “Piece of Cake,” the plane saw little flight time. Following Arnold’s death in 1992, the Spitfire was disassembled and placed in storage emerging agin in 1999 to be sold to Justin Fleming.
The plane was again overhauled and resumed flying but was involved in a fatal crash in Rouen, France in 2001. After the accident investigation had concluded, the remains of the aircraft were purchased by The Aircraft Restoration Company and moved to Duxford, UK in 2003.
This most recent restoration project has been ongoing for several years in Duxford, UK with the fuselage being reconstructed at Airframe Assemblies on the Isle of Wight and the wings being worked on by HFL Engineers. The plane has also been refitted with thr correct-specification Rolls Royce Merlin 70 engine and a new canopy which matches the originally-fitted rather than the incorrect fighter style canopy that had been previously installed as well as a mock reconnoissance camera mounting in keeping with the original specification and use of the craft.