Flying Spitfire in Australia
On 13 January 2020, Spitfire Mk.XVI TE392 (VH-XWE) from the Australian Fighter Pilot Collection made its first post-restoration flight. On this successful first flight, the aircraft was flown by well-known Richard Grace of Ultimate Warbird Flights (Sywell, United Kingdom). His company had assisted the local restorers, Performance Aero, during their two-year job.
Spitfire TE392 (c/n CBAF-IX-4551) is not a WWII veteran. The aircraft was delivered to the RAF one month after VE-Day and remained in service until 1952. After that, the Spitfire was used as a gate guard at various locations in the UK. In August 1984, Spitfire collector Doug Arnold acquired the aircraft and started restoration in 1989. After the death of Doug Arnold in 1992, the Spitfire was sold and shipped to Florida (USA). The restoration to flyable status continued, resulting in its first post-restoration flight on 24 December 1999.
Ownership of the aircraft changed to the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston (TX), where it became a regular flying exhibit. Unfortunately the Spitfire was damaged in September 2008, when it was partly immersed resulting from the floods caused by hurricane Ike. The aircraft was shipped to Ezell Aviation in Texas, where it was immediately dismantled, washed, inhibited and then stored in preparation for reassembly. Late 2017, TE392 was sold to the Australian Fighter Pilot Collection. The restoration of the -still dismantled- fighter began shortly after its arrival at Performance Aero in Brisbane, Australia, in February 2018.
The new livery of the Spitfire is that of a Mk.IX with code "DV-A" (129 Squadron) as was flown by Frederick Anthony Owen "Tony" Gaze, DFC & Two Bars, OAM, one of the great Australian WWII aces. During the war, Tony Gaze was attributed with 12.5 confirmed victories and flew as a wingman to the legendary Douglas Bader.
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