Over 58 years since its last flight, Supermarine Spitfire XVI TE311 recently returned to the air at the Royal Air Force Station-Coningsby in Lincolnshire, England following an exhaustive 12-year restoration project untaken by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The fighter plane has been painted to match the Mk XVI TB675 that was flown by Squadron Leader Tony Reeves DFC, the Commanding Officer of the 74th Squadron, from March-May 1945. That aircraft was primarily employed on ground attack operations during the advance on Germany.
This particular Spitfire didn’t see combat service as it was built at the end of the war in Europe and was assigned to various RAF flight training programs before being retired from flying duties in December 1954. In August 1955, TE311 was painted silver and went on static display as a gate guard at RAF Tangmere. In the summer of 1967 the plane was restored to taxiing condition and fitted with a “high-back” to resemble a Mk I Spitfire for use in the MGM film “Battle of Britain,” wearing N3321/AI-M as its markings. It went to the RAF Exhibition Flight in January 1973 and spent many years being hauled around the United Kingdom as a recruiting tool. The Spitfire arrived at the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Coningsby facility in October 1999, with the restoration project getting underway in 2001.