Another two-seat Spitfire for Biggin

News July 2019

on the left in its original, low-back MkIX guise at Colerne, circa 1948-49. G. KINGHORN
2005 view of Spitfi re IXT TE308, in the ownership of Bill Greenwood. MIKE SHREEVE

Long-term United Statesresident Spitfi re IXT TE308 will soon arrive back in the UK following its purchase from Bill Greenwood by Warbird Experiences at Biggin Hill, where it will join three other two-seaters based at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

The machine hasn’t fl own since being damaged when it was hit by Hawker Hurricane XII 5708/N96RW on the ground at Galveston, Texas, on 26 April 2008. For the past few years TE308 had been at Fort Collins, Colorado, for restoration back to fl ying condition.

It has the unique distinction of being the fi rst Spitfi re ever modifi ed from low-back to high-back confi guration. Built as a low-back MkIX, with cut-down rear fuselage, TE308 left the Castle Bromwich factory on 9 June 1945, bound for No 39 Maintenance Unit at Colerne, and was to remain in storage for the next fi ve years. In July 1950 it was sold back to Vickers-Armstrongs and converted to IXT confi guration at Hursley Park, Hampshire for the Irish Air Corps. Flown to Ireland with the serial IAC 163 on 10 July 1951, after a display on arrival at Baldonnel the pilot proceeded to make a wheelsup landing.

After more than 10 years’ service as a trainer for the IAC fl eet of Seafi re IIIs, it was retired in the autumn of 1961, becoming an instructional airframe at Baldonnel. One of three Irish Spitfi re trainers put up for tender in March 1968, TE308 was acquired by Tony Samuelson, of Samuelson Film Services, and registered G-AWGB. It was soon leased to Spitfi re Productions for use in the Battle of Britain fi lm as a camera-ship. Fitted with a camera in the rear cockpit, all of the pilot-point-of-view, through-the-windscreen shots used in the movie were captured from TE308. In 1970 the Spitfi re was acquired by Willie Roberts of Strathallan Collection fame and fl own to Shoreham, but was soon moved on to Don Plumb in Ontario, Canada. Subsequently sold to Woodson K. Woods, who also owned famous Spitfi re XVI SL721, TE308 was bought by Bill Greenwood of Aspen, Colorado, in April 1983. He fl ew it to many airshows and events all over the USA and Canada during the following 25 years.



A very special formation mounted by the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar on 22 May comprised the three two-seat Spitfi res currently operating from Biggin. The prototype trainer, MkVIII MT818/G-AIDN, is in the background, with former Irish Air Corps IXTs MJ772 and MJ627 close to the camera-ship. RICHARD PAVER