Sweden’s Spitfires in the Cold War

Of all aspects of the Spitfire’s service, its post-war use as a photo-reconnaissance platform by the Swedish Air Force is one of the least well-known — especially as regards clandestine overflights of the Soviet Union

The Spitfire PRXIX was one of the outstanding photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the Second World War. With a service ceiling of nearly 46,000ft (14,000m), a maximum speed of 385kt (715km/h) and a range of more than 1,080 miles (1,745km), it entered RAF service in 1944, being able to operate almost with impunity across German-occupied Europe. It carried three cameras, but no armament. In all, 225 were built. Apart from the RAF, the largest operator of the mark was Sweden’s Flygvapnet (air force). Fifty PRXIXs were purchased in 1948, remaining in service until 1955. Apart from Sweden, the variant was exported to India (25 examples), the Netherlands (one instructional airframe on loan, PM633/6453M), Thailand (four) and Turkey (four).

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