Greek Spitfire restoration back on

Spitfire IX MJ755 on display in Athens during the summer of 1968. Note the Curtiss Helldiver in the background.

Plans to rebuild the Hellenic Air Force Museum’s Supermarine Spitfire IX MJ755 to flying condition — which were put on hold following the financial crisis of 2008 — look to be back on again, and the fighter is due in the UK soon for the work to be undertaken at one of Britain’s leading restoration houses. It is understood that the combat-veteran Spitfire will be leased to a private Greek organisation, and that the Hellenic Air Force will not incur any costs. Back in 2007, British-based restorers had been invited to examine the stripped-down airframe and engine.

MJ755 was built at Castle Bromwich in December 1943, and after a short period of storage was dispatched by sea on the SS Fort Liard for Casablanca, North Africa, where it arrived on 13 March 1944. It was allocated to No 43 Squadron — the famous ‘Fighting Cocks’ — and on 15 August 1944 flew cover during Operation ‘Dragoon’, the landings in the south of France. Having spent two further months operating from French airfields, in late October it moved to Italy, flying from several bases including Peretola, Rimini and, in February 1945, Ravenna. That May it moved on to Klagenfurt, Austria.

Greece received 77 Spitfire IXs after the war, most of them coming from RAF stocks in the Mediterranean theatre. MJ755 was taken on charge by the Greek air arm on 27 February 1947, and by April it was on the strength of 335 Mira (Squadron) at Sedes, just east of

Thessaloniki. It made its last flight on 8 September 1953 and, after a period of storage at Hellenikon, went to Tatoi Air Base at Dekeleia for display. It was then moved to the Hellenic War Museum in central Athens where it was displayed in the open for many years until, following the formal creation of the Hellenic Air Force Museum during 1992, it went back to Tatoi in the spring of 1995.