Battle of Briatin Film

 
         
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The survivors

Spitfire Mk.F21 LA226

Squadrons:

Type: VS356

Engine: Griffon 61

Serial No. /Reg. LA226

Sqdn - code: 91-DL-F, 122-MT-, No3 CAACU - E

Role in film: Allocated not used, Currently: Stored

History

Another of the reinstated batch of F21’S, LA226 was built at the South Marston factory under Contract No. Air/1951/CB.23(c) and test flown there on 9th January 1945, being delivered to No.33 MU at Lyneham on 21st February. Its first unit was No.91 (Nigerian) squadron, based at West Malling, to which it was delivered on 7th March and its first operational sortie was flown on 13th April.  Little is known of its operational career, but an interesting incident occurred on 3rd August 1945 while it was climbing out from a dive-bombing exercise near Fairwood Common, near Swansea; the engine cut-out and the pilot managed to glide down to a perfect three-pointer at an estimated glide angle of 1.13 to 9!

Besides regular visits to South Marston for maintenance and repairs LA226 moved to No.122 squadron at Dalcross on 17th April 1946, No.42 Group and No.9 MU Cosford (as non-effective stock) on 15th December 1947. Ten months later, on 13th October 1948, it was declared Cat.B and on 25th February 1949 it arrived at Eastleigh for repairs by Vickers, which were complete on 22nd November, being allocated to No.33 MU Lyneham six days later. It was from here that it was removed and allocated to No.3 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit at Exeter, its final flying unit, from which t was retired and transferred to Maintenance Command as 7119M on 18th January 1954.

The aircraft was delivered to N0.2224 squadron ATC at Albrighton, Staffordshire, remaining with the unit until it was removed to Cosford and then delivered to Little Rissington on 9th February 1958. At Little Rissington LA226 was restored to its original colours and markings for static display and remained there until 1967, when it joined the cast of The Battle of Britain at Henlow. It was not, however, used in the film, although parts were donated to other aircraft and at the end of filming it was presented by the Royal Air Force to Vickers Ltd for display at their South Marston factory, where it had been built in 1945.

Work on its restoration began at South Marston in January 1970 and the team of nine volunteers spent some 750 hours on it before the work was complete and it was placed on show at the entrance to the works. The aircraft remained at South Marston, apart from a brief sojourn to Vickers’ Millbank HQ in 1976-77 when it was displayed as part of the Spitfire’s 40th anniversary celebrations. In early 1984 with the impending closure of the South Marston facility, it left its home once again this time to take up temporary residence at Biggin Hill, where it stood in for Hurricane II LF738, which was being restored at Rochester. In 1987 the aircraft was moved to RAF Shawbury for storage until 1989 when it was moved to the RAF Museum store at RAF Cardington, Bedfordshire. It remained here until 2000 when it was moved to RAF Wyton then to the RAF Museum Store, RAF Cosford, 2001-2002.

Location – RAF Museum reserve collection, Stafford, Staffs – stored.

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