The Texas Flying Legends Museum has just acquired a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX! Not only is it a fabulous airframe, but a combat veteran as well. The aircraft started life with the Royal Air Force as serial MK959. Her first combat assignment was with 302 Squadron, one of the pair of Polish-manned fighter squadrons who served Britain so valiantly during WWII from the Battle of Britain onwards. MK959 joined 302 in 1944, flying a number of combat missions with the unit coded as WX-F before her last flight with them on May 30th, 1944. The Spitfire then moved on to 329 Squadron, flying her first sortie with the unit over the Normandy beachhead on June 17th, 1944. In fact she currently wears the same codes (5A-K) and invasion stripes she flew with 329 Squadron during this time. Interestingly, 329 Squadron was manned by French personnel from a former French Air Force unit absorbed into the RAF. MK959 left 329 for 165 Squadron by August 30th, 1944 and continued to fly missions over Europe during the remainder of WWII.
After the war, MK959 was one of many Spitfires which received refurbishment for foreign sale. She joined the reconstituted Royal Netherlands Air Force on September 26th, 1946, and again saw action with the Dutch 322 Squadron over the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian fight for independence in the late 1940s. MK959 survived to return home to Holland before being stricken on March 16th, 1949 following an accident. The Spitfire again had a lucky escape though, as rather than scrap the retired airframe, the Dutch patched her up and used her as an airfield decoy. By mounted her atop a pole in front of their air base in Eindhoven, where she stayed for many years until the Dutch Spitfire Flight took her down in the early 1990s to use as a pattern/spares ship in returning their Spitfire Mk.IX MK732 back to flying condition. The Dutch sold the Spitfire to Raybourne Thompson in Houston Texas in 1995, and Thompson spent the next decade lavishing his exceptional skills on returning the aircraft back to flying condition. She made her first post-restoration flight in February, 2004. Thompson sold his pride and joy to Tom Duffy in Millville, New Jersey in late 2007, but now she has come home to Houston with the Texas Flying Legends Museum!
WarbirdsNews founder, Moreno Aguiari recently caught up with Warren Pietsch at the Texas Flying Legends Museum, and took the photographs in this piece. The aircraft is currently in a hangar at the museum’s base at Ellington Field near Houston, Texas. She will head up north to the Dakota Territory Air Museum, TFLM’s sister organization, in Minot, North Dakota for winter maintenance. Following that, we expect to see her on the air show circuit in 2016, and she’s sure to make a great impression on audiences across the country. Many thanks to Warren Pitsch and the Texas Flying Legends Museum for helping us with this article!