Eastern Aircraft-built Grumman FM-2 Wildcat BuNo 86690/G-KINL made its first post-restoration flight from Duxford on 11 October, with John Romain at the controls. The fighter, which is owned by Thomas Harris, had arrived at Duxford from Old Warden for rebuild with the Aircraft Restoration Company on 27 April 2016.
It has been painted as Royal Navy Grumman Martlet III AX733, flown by Sub-Lt W. M. Walsh with 805 Squadron from Dekheila, seven miles west of Alexandria, Egypt, during 1941. On 28 September, Walsh scored the type’s second aerial victory when he shot down a Regia Aeronautica Fiat G50, going on to claim a probable kill of a Savoia-Marchetti S79 bomber on 23 November. The original 805 Squadron Martlets were part of an order for 30 F4F-3As exported under the manufacturer’s designation G-36 for the Royal Hellenic Air Force, which were diverted to the Royal Navy following the capitulation of Greece during April 1941.
FM-2 BuNo 86690 arrived in the UK from Seattle, Washington during November 2011, going straight to Old Warden by road upon acquisition by the Shuttleworth Collection. It has had a varied history in civilian ownership. Registered to the now legendary aircraft dealer Jack Hardwick at El Monte, California as N20HA during 1946, a decade later it was converted to become a sprayer with two underwing tanks and two wingtip tanks, in Phoenix, Arizona. By 1966 the spraying equipment had been removed and 86690 was being operated by James R. Freese from Modesto, California. From 1977 it was flown in a US Marine Corps scheme by Jack Lenhardt from Lenhardt Airpark in Hubbard, Oregon, and subsequently passed through the hands of several warbird operators, spending a brief period on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington before the sea crossing to the UK.