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 Carrying the number 159, it served with ‘A’ Flight Fighter Squadron until withdrawn from use in 1960 when it was sold to Film Aviation Services Ltd.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 Heritage Hangar where it underwent a full restoration to flying condition and now operates as part of the fleet offering 2 seater Spitfire flights.
Please consult the Safety Standards Acknowledgement and Consent (SSAC) document available on flying in ex-military aircraft, download here.
Image credit: G.Skillen collection