Airworthy Spitfire bound for Turkey

Flying museum at Sivrihisar to receive combat veteran MkIX after restoration

The fuselage of Spitfire IX MA764 under restoration in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.
The fuselage of Spitfire IX MA764 under restoration in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. JOHN SANDERSON

Combat veteran Supermarine Spitfire IX MA764/G-MCDB has been acquired from Biggin Hill-based Peter Monk by a new owner in Turkey, and following completion of a restoration to fly at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar is expected to arrive at Sivrihisar, in the province of Eskisehir, 85 miles south-west of Ankara during March 2024.

Turkey operated three Merlin-powered variants of Spitfire, the MkI, V and IX, but none were retained for preservation, which has left a major gap in the line-up at the Turkish Air Force Museum in Istanbul. Professional air display pilot, aerobatic aircraft designer and aviation businessman Ali Ismet Öztürk stated that an agreement to acquire the fighter was made between the MSÖ Air and Space Museum at Sivrihisar and the adjacent Sivrihisar Aviation Center, saying, “With the agreement reached, MA764 will fly again with wing number 04”. This was the code number of the machine flown by Necati Artan, one of Turkey’s most famous fighter pilots, who flew Spitfires and in 1955 founded the F-86 Sabre-equipped Flying Swans aerobatic team.

The MSÖ Air and Space Museum already operates two well-known historic aircraft, the former Old Flying Machine Company North American P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie — resident at Sivrihisar since 2018 — and Douglas DC-3 Turkish Delight, which was formerly HB-IRJ and flew in Breitling colours on the European show circuit. The museum also has airworthy examples of the North American T-6 Texan, Boeing Stearman Model 75, Antonov An-2 and Cessna 195 in its fleet.

Originally assigned to No 122 (Bombay) Squadron at Gravesend, Kent on 10 August 1943, on 25 November that year MA764 — alongside 10 other aircraft from the unit — made a fighter sweep in the Lille area of northern France. At about 16.00hrs the Spitfires were attacked by Messerschmitt Bf 109 Gs, and MA764, being flown by Sgt Donald Bostock, suffered a bullet strike in a glycol pipe. The Merlin engine started to overheat and then caught fire, forcing Bostock to bail out. He successfully evaded capture for two months and made it back to Britain during January 1944. The remains of MA764 were recovered in November 2005.