Air-to-air with the Polish Heritage Flight

Established in 2019 to salute the heroism of Polish aircrew during World War Two, the Polish Heritage Flight possesses a Spitfire with significant history. Darren Harbar goes air-to-air with this magnificent machine and learns more about its provenance and role

Spitfire Mk.Vb BM597 is already well known on the UK warbird scene. It was restored at Audley End in Essex by Historic Flying Limited in the 1990s and has been maintained in airworthy condition with the Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC) at Duxford since it flew in 1997.

BM597's commemorative scheme represents P8331 flown by Polish pilot Piotr Laguna, while with 303 Squadron based at RAF Northolt

It’s a particularly special Spitfire for the Polish nation, as the aircraft served with two RAF (Polish) Squadrons at Woodvale, Merseyside, from May 1942. Like many of the type, BM597 is a product of the Castle Bromwich production line, having been built under contract B981687/39. The order was placed in 1939 for 1,000 Spitfire Mk.Is, but this was upgraded to Mk.III when the order was released to production. That mark of fighter was never actually produced, and by the time construction was under way, BM597 was built as a Mk.Vb.

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