SPITFIRE MK XVI (LF) - TYPE 361 SERIAL TB752
TB752 is one of the few surviving Spitfires with a wartime record. Built at Castle Bromwich in the early part of 1944 she entered service with the famous No. 66 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in March 1945 bearing the Squadron Code LZ-F. Carrying an armament of 2 x 20mm cannons and 4 x 0.5 machine guns as well as a 500 lb bomb and 2 x 250 lb bombs: she was used initially against road and rail targets in Northern Holland and Germany.
On the 25th March 1945, TB752 was classified as Cat C AC (badly damaged) after the port undercarriage leg failed to lower for landing, the main damage being to the wing and propeller blades. She was removed to No. 409 Repair and Salvage Unit and re-issued to No. 403 "Wolf" Squadron RCAF on 19th April 1945, operating from Diepholz in Germany and bearing the Squadron code KH-Z. On the 21st April and on his very first flight in TB752, the Squadron 'C.O.', Squadron Leader 'Hank' Zary DFC RCAF destroyed a Me109. Four days later Flying Officer David Leslie destroyed an unidentified German aircraft but believed to be a Fw189 reconnaissance aircraft.
On the 1st May Flying Officer Bob Young destroyed a Fw190 and two days later an He111 bomber fell to the guns of Flying Officer Fred Town. - TB752s FINAL VICTORY which is depicted in the superb painting by Michael Turner (prints of which are obtainable from the sales area). After years of neglect 752 was removed to Manston in 1955 and stood for many proud years as station gate-guardian - but sadly corroding away at an ever increasing rate.
However, in 1978 the Medway Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society offered to restore her and on 7th July TB752 was removed to Rochester Airport. Some 15,000 man hours later 752 re-emerged in pristine condition and returned to Manston on 15th September 1979. The decision was then made that such a finely restored aircraft must be properly housed and fund raising started immediately: such was the response that TB752 moved into her permanent 'quarters' early in 1981.
It is worth noting that out of 22,000 Spitfires built only 179 survive and many of these are 'wrecks'.
For full details of TB752's history, her wartime and peacetime flying life, her eighteen traced pilots living in the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia plus her restoration at Rochester Airport, etc. a booklet has been published entitled 'The Manston Spitfire - TB752'.
This makes enthralling reading and is reasonably priced at £5.00 from the sales counter.
HAWKER HURRICANE IIc - SERIAL LF751
(Displayed as BN230 of No. 43 Squadron (RAF) - Coded FT-A
LF751 was built at Langley in 1944 and issued to No. 22 Maintenance Unit (MU) at Silloth on the 19th March of that year. On the 8th April LF751 joined her first unit, No. 1681 Bomber Defence Training Flight. Later that year she moved to No. 27 Operational Training Unit based at Waterbeach: LF751 was to remain there for the remainder of her operational life - and beyond. With No. 27 O.T.U. she received the codes 'FB-B'.
During July 1945 LF751 was inhibited and relegated to instructional purposes with the code 5466M. Also based at Waterbeach at this time was Hurricane LF363 which later formed part of the famous Battle of Britain Memorial Museum Flight now based at RAF Coningsby. To keep LF363 flying many components from LF751 and two other Hurricanes on the station - namely Z3687 and PG953 - were removed. Later on LF751 was refurbished for long-term external display and at the same time making LF751 a somewhat complex hybrid. These alterations almost turned her into a MarkIID.
751 then spent nearly 30 years standing outside as proud gate-guardian in the superb grounds of RAF Bentley Priory, the Headquarters of No. 11 Group, Fighter Command. By then 751 was one of only two surviving gate-guardians in the country - the other being LF738 at RAF Biggin Hill. Incidentally LF738 has also been restored by the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society and is now on display at RAF Cosford.
To return to LF751. Although an eye-catching and evocative sight, the Hurricane's steel and timber frame had suffered very, very badly from exposure to the elements and it was obvious that something had to be done very quickly to save further deterioration. Fortunately for LF751, as in the case of Spitfire TB752, deliverance came in the form of the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) based at Rochester Airport. She was removed to Rochester Airport from Bentley Priory on the 20th March 1985, on the back of two Queen Mary transporters.
Following detailed and lengthy assessment of damage to the aircraft MAPS began the task of repairing the severe damage caused by corrosion and hand crafting many of the replacement parts whilst remaining as close as possible to the original specification. MAPS estimate that some 40% of the original aircraft has had to be replaced or copied, including propeller blades, cowlings, panels, timber and fabric, a task not eased by an almost total lack of production drawings most of which were destroyed just after the end of World War II. So bad was the overall condition that MAPS requested the MOD to release Hurricane LF738 from RAF Biggin Hill and this aircraft was removed to Rochester Airport later the same year so that the task of rebuilding could be reduced by exchanging parts from both aircraft. (LF738 is now housed at RAF Cosford). As a matter of interest the control column came from a Hurricane which crashed at West Malling in September 1940 and the 'spade-grip' was from a similar aircraft which force-landed at RAF Manston in May 1940.
Considerable research has gone into the finish of the aircraft and with the approval of the MOD the Hurricane is displayed as BN230 of the famous 'Fighting Cocks' - No. 43 Squadron.
BN230 was flown by Squadron Leader D.A.R.G. 'Danny' Le Roy Du Vivier DFC, the first Belgian to command a RAF Squadron. BN230 was the first RAF fighter over Dieppe on 19th August 1942, leading the Tangmere Wing in 'Operation Jubilee'.
On the 22nd April 1988, LF751 was wheeled out at Rochester in pristine condition ready to join her illustrious stable-mate in the Hurricane and Spitfire Memorial Museum Building. The rebuild took MAPS some 22,000 man hours and cost some £18,000.