Surprise return to Duxford for MS505

French-built Fieseler Storch comes back to former base after more than four decades

More than 40 years after it left Duxford to become a static exhibit at the Museum of Flight at East Fortune near Edinburgh, Morane-Saulnier MS505 Criquet G-BIRW (c/n 695) made an unexpected return to the Cambridgeshire airfield by road on 22 November.

Built post-war as an MS502, this radial-engined, French-built version of the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch had the Argus in-line engine of the original German design replaced by a 230hp Salmson 9ab. After service with the Armée de l’Air in French Indochina, it was re-engined with a 304hp Jacobs R-755-A2 to become an MS505. During October 1947 the machine was registered F-BDQS and delivered to the Service de l’Aviation Légère et Sportive at Amiens-Glisy aerodrome.

The French registration was cancelled during March 1978, and the Morane-Saulnier was briefly registered in Belgium as OO-FIS before becoming G-BIRW in April 1981 upon acquisition by Graham Warner of the legendary Chiswick, west London-based sports car dealership The Chequered Flag. Warner — whose drive and determination, alongside that of engineer John Romain, was to subsequently put two Bristol Blenheims back into the air — sold the Criquet to the Museum of Flight in May 1983. It was re-registered as G-BIRW to Propshop Ltd on 24 November. Wouldn’t it be nice to see it restored to fly again at Duxford?

Morane-Saulnier MS505 G-BIRW, wearing fictitious Luftwaffe markings, after its arrival back at Duxford on 22 November.
Morane-Saulnier MS505 G-BIRW, wearing fictitious Luftwaffe markings, after its arrival back at Duxford on 22 November. JOHN IRONSIDE