Spitfire T.IX PT462
also known as: Indy, Indy Xray, 462, Cee-Tix, ‘SW-A’ & The Mediterranean Spitfire
PT462 left the Castle Bromwich factory in July 1944 as a single-seat H.F.IXe (High Altitude Fighter), powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin 70 engine. The aircraft was delivered to 39 Maintenance Unit (M.U.) at RAF Colerne in Wiltshire, before being briefly moved on to a second Maintenance Unit, 215 M.U. at Dumfries, Scotland. The aircraft was swiftly moved on again and was transported over to Europe for the Mediterranean Allied Air Force.
In November 1944, PT462 was issued to No.4 Squadron of the South African Air Force operating on the Italian Adriatic Coast, during this time the Spitfire was painted with the codes ‘KJ-Z’. After two months, the Spitfire returned to the Royal Air Force and in early 1945 operated with both 73 and 326 Squadrons. Later that spring and on the 14th April 1945, the aircraft undertook its first operational sortie with 253 Squadron, equipped with the codes ‘SW-A’. The aircraft undertook a number of operational sorties with 253 Sqn through April 1945 up until the days leading to VE Day that following May. Through these late stages of the war PT462 completed a number of tactical reconnaissance and ground attack operations.
Spitfire PT462 left the Royal Air Force in June 1947 when it was sold onto the Italian Air Force having entered storage earlier that summer. The Spitfire was given its first new post-war identity with the Italian serial number MM4100, while operating with 5 Stormo Italian Air Force, out of Orio al Serio, near Bergamo, east of Milan.
The Spitfire was sold again in 1952, this time onto the Israeli Air Force who gave the aircraft its second post-war identity of ‘20-67’. The aircraft served with the Israeli’s 105 Squadron based at Ramut David Air Force Base, near Nazareth, until 1956 when the aircraft entered storage once again and was later donated to a Kibbutz community for display.
In 1976, the derelict airframe of PT462 was discovered with its faded former South African Air Force 4 Squadron markings showing through its dilapidated paintwork. The aircraft was then buried and lay in a rubbish dump where it remained hidden until it was tracked down and recovered by a Duxford-based collector who had it moved to a storage facility at Fowlmere, Cambridge on the 10th May 1983. The following year, the remains of the aircraft were sold onto another collector who instigated the aircraft’s journey back to flying condition as a two-seat variant.
The rebuild of the Spitfire incorporated a lower rear canopy modification that was pioneered by Nick Grace and Dick Melton, Chief Engineer of the project, as well as wings from fellow ex-Israeli Spitfire, TE517. The wings were rebuilt with leading edge fuel tanks, a configuration specific to Spitfire PRXIs which significantly increased the fuel tank capacity and range of operation. The rebuilt Spitfire flew again on 25th July 1987, registered as G-CTIX, but was painted in an unusual green and blue camouflage scheme. The aircraft was sold and moved to Florida in 1994, registered as N462JC, where it was re-equipped with its 253 Squadron codes ‘SW-A’ and a green & light grey camouflage paint scheme.
4 years later the Spitfire was sold on again and was dismantled and shipped back to the UK. In April 1998, she was re-registered with her previous British registration of G-CTIX and was re-assembled at Duxford. Just over 3 months later on the 5th August 1998, PT462 returned to the skies again in the hands of John Romain. The Spitfire left Duxford and was based out of her owner’s private strip in North Wales, where she continued to fly and appear at a variety of displays. On the 9th October 2017, the aircraft was acquired by the Aircraft Restoration Company and a more accurate colour scheme was applied, including small stencil style code letters in off-white and the 253 Squadron badge on the aircraft’s fin.