With the recent easing of work and travel restrictions in Australia as the nation begins to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, our good friend John Parker at Warbirds Online was able to visit Vintage Fighter Restorations (VFR) in Scone, New South Wales, Australia to see how they are progressing on the Supermarine Spitfire restorations they are presently involved with. We will let John continue the story here…
We have finally been able to travel again in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic and decided to make our first trip back to Scone NSW for an update on activity at Pay’s Air Service and Vintage Fighter Restorations.
Following the completion and shipping of Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX MH415 to the UK recently, attention has now turned to the completion of Spitfire F Mk. IX MH603, with many of the systems and details now in the final phases of their installation, including the hydraulic systems. On the day of our visit, the technicians were testing the fighter’s main undercarriage retraction system – a milestone in any Spitfire restoration.
The restoration team was finalizing a host of electrical, hydraulic and fuel system items on MH603 as well. Many of the fairings are now completed, and the cowlings are ready for final fitting once everything else is done. The Spitfire’s Rolls-Royce Merlin engine is believed to be almost ready for shipping from the USA; it will be air-freighted to Australia and fitted to the airframe as soon as possible.
Fitting the powerplant to the airframe is a pivotal time in any restoration, as the engine is connected to almost all of the aircraft’s systems. This period also allows for the refitting of numerous other items, along with fettling the cowlings and fairings prior to final completion. All being well, it should not be long before MH603 is complete and ready to commence engine runs building towards her maiden flight. the first post-restoration hop should take place before the end of the year, and will be an event we all look forward to with great anticipation!
Speaking of Supermarine Spitfires, we can also report excellent progress being made on the restoration of Spitfire Mk.IX BS548. The fuselage of this crash-recovered, combat-veteran Spitfire is under rebuild in England presently, as a dual control, two-seater variant. This work is now largely complete, structurally-speaking, and once finished, the fuselage will make the long journey by sea to Vintage Fighter Restorations in Scone. VFR will build new wings for the project on site and fit a “Grace Spitfire” style two-seater canopy set rather than the original, clunkier, bulbous canopy configuration. BS548 will eventually join the VFR fleet, making Warbird experience flights and advanced warbird pilot training possible at the company. Indeed BS548 will be a fantastic addition to the growing Vintage Fighter Restoration fleet!
It was great to get back to Pay’s Air Service and Vintage Fighter Restorations Scone to view the progress on the Spitfire collection, and the next twelve months or so should be an exciting time for these warbirds. There is much to look forward to!
Many thanks indeed to John Parker for this fascinating update. We wish our fellow Australian’s good luck in coping with the current health crisis. Be safe, and be well everyone!