Spitfire T.IX PV202
also known as: Charlie, Charlie Alpha, 202 & ‘5R-H’
In the late summer of 1944, PV202 left the Vickers Supermarine factory at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to the Royal Air Force’s No.33 Maintenance Unit based at Lyneham in Wiltshire. It was here that the aircraft was brought up to operational standard before moving on to No.84 Ground Support Unit at Thruxton, Hampshire.
The aircraft finally entered active service on 19th October 1944 with 33 Squadron operating from Merville, Northern France. It was here that the Spitfire was painted with the codes ‘5R-Q’ and participated in ground support operations as Allied forces pushed further into occupied Europe. The Spitfire briefly moved to Belgium, operating from Maldegem, before it made a return to the UK in mid-December 1944. During its time with 33 Squadron, PV202 completed 20 operational sorties, flying with 10 different British, Danish, Dutch and South African pilots.
In early 1945, PV202 was issued to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 412 Squadron who were operating from Heesch in Holland. During its time with 412 Sqn, PV202 flew in the codes ‘VZ-M’, later ‘VZ-W’, and by 4th May 1945 had carried out a further 76 operational sorties and was credited with downing 3 enemy aircraft, two FW190s and one BF109. Later that month the aircraft’s wartime operations were over, and it returned to the UK once more where it was eventually placed in storage and its post-war story began.
Spitfire PV202 started life as a single-seat LFIX fighter, but as the Royal Air Force started to move onto more advanced aircraft, a number of Spitfires were moved onto different air forces around the world. PV202 was one of 6 Spitfires that were acquired by the Irish Air Corps to train pilots for their Supermarine Seafire fleet, and was moved to the Vickers-Armstrong Factory at Eastleigh where it was converted into its current Tr.IX trainer configuration.
During her time with the Irish Air Corps (IAC), PV202 flew with the identity IAC161 until she was sold on later in the 1960’s. The Spitfire passed through various different private owners and collectors, but did not fly again until the 23rdFebruary 1990, taking off from Dunsfold showcasing one of her previous wartime RCAF 412sqn schemes.
PV202 was purchased in 2001 by Historic Flying Limited (HFL), now part of the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo), following an incident that wrote off the aircraft in the year previous. The Spitfire flew again, post restoration, and back in her authentic Irish Air Corps colours in March 2005 at the hands of John Romain, with famed veteran Spitfire pilot Alex Henshaw in the rear seat.
In 2007, the aircraft was repainted to represent one of three Spitfire Tr.IXs sold to the Netherlands in 1948, wearing the Royal Netherlands Air Force colours and markings ‘H98’. In 2010 the Spitfire was repainted again, this time to celebrate the 70thAnniversary of the Battle of Britain and represented Spitfire Mk1 X4474 of 19 Squadron, based at Duxford & Fowlmere during the battle. In 2014, the aircraft was repainted once more into its current 33sqn RAF scheme, representing codes similar to those it wore during 1944.