Spitfires (and a Hurricane) @ Chino – 2004
Was going through the files and here are some interesting pictures of Spitfires that used to live at Chino.
The P.R.XIX PM891 is of particular interest. When it retired from the Thai Air Force in 1961, the King of Thailand presented it to Ed Maloney – it was at the time possibly the last operational Spitfire anywhere. For the next 35 years, it was a non-flying display at the museum in various spurious markings. In the mid-90s, Steve Hinton had an idea to put it back in the air and go for the World Time-to-Climb record. The airframe was gone over in detail with the wing skin taken off and the spar rebuilt (major corrosion there). They then put a Griffon-85 with contra-props from a Shackleton in her, the idea being that with the contra-props Steve could firewall the throttle from the beginning without putting the airplane on its back (one normally takes off in a Griffon Spit with the 5-blade Rotol at about 3/4 power maximum so the torque can be controlled). The goal was to make the record run in March 2005, the Spitfire’s 70th Anniversary. Unfortunately, the necessary backing fell through and it never happened – how cool it would have been!
Shortly after these pictures were taken, the airplane went to The Fighter Collection at Duxford, where they are busy “un-racing” it back into a standard P.R.XIX. The markings here are entirely spurious. The start-up shots are good because this was the only time the P.R.XIX was publicly flown at Chino.
ML417 is a Spitfire IX that was restored by the Spitfire shop in Audley End (as guys from the 4th FG would say when the train from London stopped there and they changed to the “Toonerville Trolley” to get to Debden, “at last, an accurately-named English town!”). It is in the markings of 443 Squadron RCAF. For those who argue how Spitfires were painted, this nice tight camo scheme was done freehand with the spraygun tightened down for the borders, but you can only tell that when you’re about 2 feet away from the airframe, in good light.
The Spitfire XIV was well-known at Duxford shows in the late 1980s-early 1990s. It demonstrates my biggest peeve about warbird restorations: a million bucks sunk into making it fly, and they couldn’t spend 50 cents on how it actually looked. Totally, absolutely, completely inaccurate markings for Ginger Lacey’s Spitfire XIV, and done at a time when the research to get it right was readily available. Contrast this with the Spitfire IX, which is about as “right” as one can get.
I never ever thought I would be within spitting distance of a Hurricane, but here is a Hurricane IIa, restored as “Bader’s Hurricane” (which one of the three he flew in these markings is not detailed, but for sure it isn’t the one in the mirrored B-scheme camouflage). Not the best backdrop, but since this was one of the few times it was ever out in daylight during the seven years it was at Chino, one takes the opportunities as they are presented.
One of the fun things at Chino “First Saturday of the Month” events are the re-enactors who show up. The Spitfire pilot was very well equipped, even to a period Life magazine to read while waiting to scramble. The “Bader” re-enactor was really suffering in the 100-degree heat of a late Southern California summer.
The Spitfire IX and XIV are owned by the Friedkin Family Foundation and are now in Texas. The Friedkins own these two, plus the most-original Spitfire I ever restored (good article about it in the new Flight Journal “Spitfire Special” edition), the Spitfire Vb restored in Zumbach’s markings, and a P.R.XI. Proof indeed that “too much is not enough.” 🙂
18 additional images. Click to enlarge.