The Making of the film:
The survivors - other airworthy examples
Spitfire Mk.LFXII EN223
Engine: Griffon III
Sqdn-code: 91"Nigeria" DL-B
The aircraft was built under contract number B19713/39. This was the seventh order for 500 Mk Vc dated 23rd August 1941, these were built as Mk Vc/PR IV/VI/VII/IX/XI/XII between November 1942 and August 1943, the following serials apply to those built as Mk XII, EN221 - 228 and EN601 - 637. This aircraft, construction number 3704 was flown at High Post Aerodrome and subsequently moved across the road under the Controller of Research and Development (CRD) at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) Boscombe Down on 14th December 1942. The aircraft was then transferred to the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) at Duxford on 21st December 1942 for tactical trials. The aircraft was despatched to Air Service Training (AST) for a modification package on 26th June 1943, arriving back at the AFDU on 10th November 1943. The aircraft then became part of 91 "Nigeria" squadron based at Tangmere on 20th November 1943.
On the 6th January 1944 the aircraft was involved in a bomber escort mission (ramrod) piloted by Flying Officer Harold Frederick Henninger, service No J/16209, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). During the flight whilst flying at 4000', the aircraft suffered a catastrophic engine failure which the pilot reported over the R/T and stated he was abandoning the aircraft. Unfortunately on exiting his parachute got caught around the tail of the aircraft and the pilot perished with the aircraft when it crashed. His body was recovered and he was buried at the Grandcourt War Cemetery.
The aircraft remained undiscovered until September 2011 when it was found near Rouen, France. The excavation was filmed during a BBC series 'Dig WWII'. As the engine was recovered it was confirmed that it had indeed suffered a catastrophic engine failure. The location of the recovered wreck is not known by me at time of writing (31st May 2012) but it would appear to be a candidate for restoration to flight where it might one day join its sister EN224 in flight once that aircraft has been restored to flight.
SECRET A.F.C 146
AIR FIGHTING DEVELOPMENT UNIT
R.A.F. STATION DUXFORD
TACTICAL TRIALS – SPITFIRE XII
2........... This aircraft is a standard Spitfire VC airframe modified to take a Griffon III engine in order to produce a high performance low altitude fighter. It differs otherwise from the VC in that the wing tips have been removed to improve manoeuvrability, the bulge over the cannon feed on the mainplane is much smaller, the rudder and trimming tabs are larger, and the engine cowlings and spinner differ considerably. It is fitted with facilities for beam approach and about the first seven, including the aircraft on trial, have the oil tank behind the pilot. This is not acceptable operationally and subsequent aircraft will have the oil tank mounted immediately aft of the fireproof bulkhead. The fuel capacity is retained at 85 gallons, and jettison tanks can be used if required. The first six aircraft, again including EN.223, have dural propellers, the remainder will have wooden ones. The external finish of EN.223 was far better than has been seen on standard production Spitfire Vs and IX's.
3........... The Griffon III engine has two speed manually operated superchargers, giving full throttle heights at about 6,000 feet and 18,000 feet. It is fitted with a standard Claudel Hobsen carburettor and cuts fairly easily under negative acceleration forces. In the early models .45 reduction gear is fitted; later aircraft will have .511 reduction gear which will improve the rate of climb, especially at low altitude. The Coffman method of starting is employed. No automatic radiator shutter is at present fitted.
..........When compared in the climb below 10,000 feet with the Spitfie V using 16 lb. boost, it was found that there was little to choose between them during a full throttle climb away from take-off.
8........... A steady full throttle climb for the prototype is shown in Appendix 'B', but on the production aircraft with clipped wings the operational ceiling of 1,000 ft/min. is reached at 28,500 feet, and the rate of climb for the earlier aircraft is slightly slower, but when modified as described in paras. 3 and 4, the climb may well equal that of the prototype. The time taken for a section climbing easily to reach 28,500 feet is about 25 minutes.
17........... The Spitfire XII handles in general better than the previous marks of Spitfire. Its longitudinal stabililty has been improved, but the rudder control is not at present completely satisfactory, as it needs constant re-trimming and is rather heavy.
18........... The aircraft fills the category of a low-altitude fighter extremely well, being capable of speeds of 372 m.p.h. at 5,700 feet, and 397 m.p.h. at 18,000 feet.
19........... The climb is not as good as the rest of the performance in general, being inferior to the Spitfire IX (R.M. 10 SM) and similar to the Spitfire V at 16 lb. boost up to 10,000 feet. The operational ceiling (with clipped wings) is about 28,500 feet. Modifications already in hand should improve the rate of climb, especially at low altitudes.
20........... The aircraft dives well and benefits from having its wing tips clipped.
21........... Manoeuvrability is excellent particularly in its rate of roll.
22........... The sighting view over the nose has been slightly increased to give a total deflection allowance of 120 m.p.h.
23........... The similarity of design to Spitfires V and IX, will make its identification by the enemy difficult.
Current location UK – Restoration?