Supermarine Spitfire

Combat veteran, Spitfire Mk.Vb, (G-MKVB), BM597. One of 1000 aircraft built at Castle Bromwich against contract B981687/39, BM597 was delivered to No.37 M.U. at Burtenwood on 26 February 1942, being assigned to 315 Sqdn on 7 May 1942 and on to 317 Sqdn on 5 September 1942, both at Woodvale.

On 1 February 1943, it suffered Cat B damage when F/O Birtus lost brake pressure whilst taxiing and overturned the aircraft; it was removed for repair on 28 February. It was ready for collection again on 2 June when No. 33 M.U. took delivery and on 9 June it was allocated to Vickers Armstrong for an undisclosed purpose. It returned to No.39 M.U. Colerne on 23 November before moving to No. 222 M.U. High Ercall (Packing Depot) on 4 January 1944 and then back to No. 39 M.U. on 14 April. It was stored there for almost a year until it was issued to No. 58 OTU, its last operational unit from which it was retired on 16 October 1945. It was then transferred to instructional airframe status at No. 4 S of TT, St Athen as 5713M.

Following St Athen, BM597 was assigned as gate guardian to Hednesford (1950-1955), Bridgenorth (1955-1960) and Church Fenton (1960-1989). On 23 January 1967 it was dispatched from Henlow to Pinewood where it was used as the master for the moulds that were made to cast the fibre glass replicas used in the film ‘Battle of Britain’. It remained at Pinewood until August 1968 when it was returned to Henlow and finally in 1969 to Church Fenton. Tim Routsis, the founder of Historic Flying, recovered the aircraft in 1989 as part of a deal with the RAF and sold it to HAC in 1993 with Historic Flying undertaking the complete restoration to original specification and flies now in the colours of 317 Squadron, though in an earlier camouflage paint scheme.

The HAC team have been in contact with a number of Polish veterans who flew BM597 whilst in service with the Polish 315 (PK-C) and 317 (JH-C) Squadrons RAF. Squadron Leader Ludwik Martel and Squadron Leader Tadeuz Anderz were reunited with the aircraft at the Old Hay Charity Fly-in in July 2000. S/Ldr Franciszek Kornicki, was reunited with BM597 and sat in his former cockpit at Chailey in 2004. Their signatures can be found on the inside of the cockpit door. From squadron records, other pilots who flew the aircraft were Sgt Slonski, P/O Widziszewski, P/O B. Semmerling, F/O H. Wyrozemski, F/S J. Adamiak, P/O S. Blok, P/O J Zbrozek, Sgt Alexsander Chudek, F/LT Waleriaw Jasiowowski and F/LT W.J. Zajac. F/LT Zajac flew BM597 on several occasions including acceptance checks and tests when BM597 was assigned to 315 Squadron in May 1942.

The Historic Aircraft Collection

The Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC) was formed by Guy Black and Angus Spencer-Nairn to restore and operate a collection of piston engined military aircraft.

HAC operate Spitfire Mk. Vb (G-MKVB), Hawker Hurricane XIIa (G-HURI), Hawker Nimrod II (G-BURZ) and Hawker Fury (G-CBZP) and we estimate that over 1 million members of the public watch our aircraft at displays each year. Please contact us if you have any additional information or photographs of any of our aircraft or the pilots who flew them.

Behind the scenes, a lot of restoration work is taking place, which in the next few years, will return a number of unique aircraft to the skies. All appearance fees, sponsorship and donations go towards the enormous cost of helping to keep these very rare and historic aircraft in the sky for all to see.

If you would like to book an aircraft for a display, whether for a private event, public air show or film work, or would like to fly in formation along side one of our fighters, please visit our website.