Battle of Briatin Film

 
         
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Spitfire Mk.LFXVIe SM411

Squadron:

Type: VS361

Engine: Packard Merlin 266

Serial/Reg. SM411

Sqdn code: 421-AU-Y, 102FRS (Flying Refresher School), 103FRS, No.3 CAACU D (Civilian Anti Aircraft Cooperation Unit)

Role in film: Taxy, Currently: display

History

SM411, A Castle Bromwich built aircraft, was delivered to the RAF at No.45 MU Kinloss, Scotland in November 1944. It was later allocated to No.83 Group Support Unit at Westhampnett, now better known as Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit and civil aerodrome.

No.83 GSU soon issued SM411 to No.421 (Red Indian) squadron, a Canadian unit in 127 wing, the aircraft flying from the units bases in Belgium and Holland, later Germany, before returning to No.83 GSU at Dunsfold in July 1945.

September 1945 saw SM411 with No.29 MU High Ercall, Shropshire, staying there until April 1951, when issued to No.102 Flying Refresher School. It was transferred on 30th June, 1951 to No.103 FRS at Full Sutton, returning to storage in October at No.9 MU RAF Cosford, where it remained for two years.

No.3 Civilian Anti Aircraft Co-operation Unit at Exeter received the aircraft in October 1953, where it received the code letter D. In May 1954 SM411 was transferred to No.9 MU RAF Cosford, and in December 1954 was struck off charge as non-effective stock. In August 1955 SM411 was allocated to RAF Wattisham, Suffolk, for display purposes, where it was soon allocated maintenance serial 7242M, although this was not painted on the aircraft.

In 1966 SM411 was camouflaged and carried code letters 4M-D, which it was to retain until leased in 1967 to Spitfire Productions Ltd for use in the film The Battle of Britain.

The aircraft was delivered from Wattisham to RAF Henlow, where Simpsons Aeroservices Ltd rebuilt it to taxying condition. The Merlin 266 engine was found to be unserviceable and was exchanged with that from Mk.XVI SL574. The aircraft was made to look as near to Mk.I standard as possible, and it first carried out engine runs at Henlow in November 1967.

In April 1968 filming started at North Weald, Essex and SM411 was noted there fitted with a four-bladed propeller; this was removed on 15th April and a 3-bladed unit from AR213/G-AIST fitted.

SM411, while painted as N3310 AI-A, suffered a taxying accident in May 1968 when it tipped onto its nose at North Weald. Little damage was sustained and it was moved with the film unit to Duxford in June 1968, suffering another accident on 11th August when tipped on its nose yet again. This time the metal 3-bladed propeller was damaged and SM411 was removed to the hangar for storage. The autumn of 1968 saw filming completed and SM411 was rebuilt to display standard at RAF Henlow.

In February 1970 SM411 was delivered from Henlow to No.71 MU RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire, where it was prepared for use as a travelling exhibit for use by the RAF Exhibitions Section on recruiting and display work.

SM411 was repainted in 421 squadron colours as AU-Y and was soon to be found travelling the country on display work.

The RAF Museum managed to arrange for an exchange of a Spitfire for the DH.9A F1010 which had been held in store by the Polish Museum since the end of World War II, SM411 was the Spitfire chosen for this exchange and it left the UK in the late 1970s.

The aircraft is currently displayed at Polish National Museum, Krakow as TB995/ZF-O of No.308 (Krakow) squadron.

Current location Museum of Aircraft and Astronautics, Krakow, Poland - display

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