1943 Spitfire T.9 – MJ772
Spitfire T.9 MJ772. Built at Castle Bromwich in late 1943 it was delivered to No. 341 (Alsace) Squadron of the Free French Air Force then based at RAF Perranporth, Cornwall on January 20, 1944. With the squadron moving to RAF Merston on April 17, 1944 in preparation for D Day, MJ772 with pilot Sergeant Habib flew a sortie on June 6 over the landing beaches of Normandy. He reported chasing a FW190 which eventually disappeared into cloud after which he landed safely. On June 18 772 suffered Cat Ac FB (Operational Loss) damage which was repaired by June 22 when it was allocated to No. 340 (Ile-de-France) Squadron based at the Advanced Landing Ground at Funtingdon in Sussex. Given the code GW-A it then flew two further sorties over the beaches flown by Sergeant Trouillet.
On August 3, 1944 MJ772 was moved to No. 84 GSU (Ground Support Unit) at Thruxton before being moved to No. 33 Maintenance Unit at RAF Lyneham. Further allocated to No. 83GSU on September 9 it again suffered Cat Ac damage and was repaired on site by No. 49 MU. Returned to No. 83 GSU February 16, 1945 it remained there till January 1946 when it moved to No. 29 MU and was the subject of a Home Census on December 12, 1949.
In July 1950 MJ772 was sold back to Vickers for conversion to a two-seat trainer for the Irish Air Corp after which it arrived at the Irish base of Baldonnel in 1951. Carrying the number 159, it served with ‘A’ Flight Fighter Squadron until withdrawn from use in 1960 when it was sold to Film Aviation Services Ltd. March 1964 it was sold and moved to Ostend till 1965 when it was sold to Simpson Aero Services Ltd registered as G-AVAV and first test flown in 1967.
Used in the Battle of Britain film it again suffered damage and was repaired at Duxford. Simpson Aero then sold it and it was taken to Shoreham and re-painted in the colours of 341 Squadron. It then moved to America 1974, suffered another forced landing and was rebuilt at Mesa finally flying again in October 1985, Registered in Germany as D-FMKN it suffered a wheels-up landing in a field at Woodchurch in Kent and was then rehomed at the Biggin Hill Spitfire Factory where it underwent a full restoration to flying condition.
In August 2021 MJ772 was sold and is now based in the Netherlands.
- MJ772 was built at Castle Bromwich in late 1943 and was delivered to RAF Lyneham in mid-December.
- In January 1944, MJ was delivered to a French unit, 341 (Alsace) Squadron in Perranporth, Cornwall.
- Flew 50 operational sorties before being damaged in action whilst being flown by Sgt Dabos.
- When repaired, MJ772 was delivered to 340 (Ile-de-France) Squadron in June 1944. On arrival to Funtington, Sussex, the Spitfire was given the code GW-A, and flew in a number of sorties over the Normandy beachhead area.
- In August 1944, MJ772 was with No.84 GSU (Group Support Unit), based at Thruxton, and a few days later was moved to No.33 MU at Lyneham. In September 1944, MJ was allocated to No.83 GSU.
- After being damaged in January 1945, MJ772 was then with No.83 GSU until January 1946, when it was moved to No.29 MU. It was then re-sold back to Vickers-Armstrong to be converted into a two-seat trainer for the Irish Air Corps.
- In 1963 it was sold to the Film Aviation Services Ltd and came to FAS Biggin Hill Base in November the same year.
- By March 1964 it had been sold again to the COGEA of Ostend, Belgium, as part payment for a single seater. As it left Biggin Hill, another two-seat Spitfire took its place (MJ627).
- It was stored in Belgium until 1965, when it was bought and shipped to Elstree to be rebuilt by Simpson Aero-Services Ltd. It was registered as G-AVAV. It was first test flown in 1967.
- Permission was given for it to be used in the Battle of Britain film where it was used to train the pilots who were going to be flying the aircraft in the film. Whilst the Spitfire was filming, it had to force land and was badly damaged. It was sent to Duxford to be repaired once filming was over.
- When back with its owner after restoration from Simpsons Aero-Services for a second time, it was put up for sale with the Hurricane.
- MJ772 was given the Vickers test serial G-15-172, and was then changed to 159 upon delivery to the IAC at Baldonnel in 1951. Under this number, 159 served with “A” Flight Fighter Squadron of the IAC until it was withdrawn from use in January 1960 with 1402 flying hours.
- It was bought and taken to Shoreham, were it was overhauled and repainted in 341 Squadron’s markings and NL-R. It was moved between Shoreham and the owners Scottish base before being sold again.
- It was shipped over to a museum in Oklahoma in 1974 under the registration of N8R, and whilst being moved to another museum location in Mesa, the ferry flight took a forced landing which damaged the Spitfires undercarriage, wings and fuselage. It was rebuilt at Mesa and later flew in October 1985.
- It was later registered again in Germany as D-FMKN, but suffered a wheel’s up landing in a field in Woodchurch, Kent.
- It was registered as MJ772, with 340 squadron markings of GW-A based at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar with its sister aircraft MJ627.
- August 2021 MJ772 flew to its new home joinng TB885 in the Netherlands.