Race Against Time - The Silver Spitfire

Prose: Nicholas Pascarella
Photography: Ryan Tykosh


October 24, 1943. The Silver Spitfire, designated MJ271 and finished in the typical mid-war camouflage livery, was delivered to 33 Maintenance Unit at RAF Lyneham. Her guns were harmonized, and she was put through test flights. In February, 1944, she was delivered to her first operational unit, 118 Squadron, tasked with cover/escort duties for the heavies in addition to fighter sweeps over France, flying out of RAF Detling. 

MJ271 then moved to RAF Ford in Sussex with 132 Squadron in April 1944, providing escort once more to heavy bombers but also dive bombing targets on the coast of France. In May, she had a wheels-up landing at Ford, and was shifted around to different locations as she was repaired. 

After repairs, she flew with the Canadian pilots of 401 RCAF Squadron for 10 dive-bombing sorties before she was overstressed and put back in for repairs. The RNAF (Netherlands) received her afterwards, and then she sat for 70+ years…

...Before rolling into the restoration shop at Duxford. During the complete restoration, they stripped her of her paint and guns, with the goal of highlighting the beauty in the design. The elliptical wing, the thin fuselage, the gorgeous curves...and removing the lethal element further pushes the timeless aura about this aircraft. 

The Spitfire is a British treasure; a momentous leap in aviation design, in addition to representing "the few" that stood up against facism and tyranny. In wartime, this machine was flown by pilots from four continents, further highlighting the united front against the Axis powers. This flight will put the Spitfire in the record books, ensuring a new generation will remember this aircraft and what it stood for before the last Merlin prop whirs to a stop; this is something that's never been done before. 

Silver Spitfire - Full Disc Aviation - Ryan Tykosh_August 21, 2019_03.jpg

MJ271 (known by her current designation G-IRTY) has a new mission with the Boultbee Flight Academy. Their pilots took off in the Silver Spitfire in early August, 2019, to fly the aircraft around the globe, using two intrepid pilots and a Pilatus support aircraft, in a goodwill mission. 

Their flight will take them across hundreds of prominent landmarks and nearly every continent. But before heading to the US's west coast, it had to first get past Full Disc Aviation. August 21, 2019, Ryan Tykosh was on the hunt with his glass, hot on the trail of the Silver Spitfire. 

His gamble led him to Essex County Airport...and there, under a tarp, was the Silver Spitfire. Ryan managed to show up just as the team was rushing around to beat the afternoon thunderstorms. His timing, accidental as it was, approached perfection. G-IRTY warmed up and followed the Pilatus to the end of the field. 

With towering thunderheads on all sides, the Silver Spitfire roared down the runway and into the muggy skies of New Jersey, headed west. 

To keep up with the Boultbee Flight Academy's Silver Spitfire on her trek around the world, follow the link below. 

https://www.silverspitfire.com/about/flight-tracker/

**Full Disc Aviation would like to thank Essex County Airport staff for their short order flight-line escort.