D-DAY SPITFIRE BACK IN THE AIR AT BIGGIN

News April 2019

Pete Kynsey prepares to taxi out in Spitfire IXT MJ772 for its maiden post-rebuild flight at Biggin Hill on 27 February.
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D-Day veteran Supermarine Spitfire IXT MJ772/G-AVAV flew again at Biggin Hill on 27 February, following lengthy repairs required after a take-off accident caused by engine failure at Woodchurch in September 2015.

The fighter has been brought back to health by the Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) and been repainted in the markings and GW-A codes it wore while serving with No 340 (Île-de- France) Squadron at Funtington advanced landing ground, five miles west of Chichester, Sussex, in June 1944. It flew several sorties over the Normandy beachhead area that month, and is due to return to Normandy in early June for the 75th anniversary commemoration of the landings.

The Castle Bromwich-built MJ772 was originally delivered to No 341 (Alsace) Squadron at Perranporth, Cornwall in January 1944, and had flown 50 operational sorties before being damaged on landing when it lost its tailwheel on 18 June 1944. Post-war it was sold back to Vickers- Armstrongs and converted into a two-seat trainer, being delivered to the Irish Air Corps at Baldonnel in June 1951.

Retired in January 1960, it was acquired by Film Aviation Services. During the making of the Battle of Britain film on 9 July 1968, MJ772 suffered engine failure and pilot Wilson ‘Connie’ Edwards made a belly landing at Little Staughton, Cambridgeshire.

On the same day that MJ772 flew again, Duxford-based Spitfire IXT PT462/G-CTIX was damaged in a landing accident at Denham, without injury to the two occupants, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire PRXIX PM631 made its first flight since 2014 at Coningsby.