Battle of Briatin Film

 
         
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The survivors

Spitfire Mk.LFXVIe TE384

Squadrons:

Type: VS361

Engine: Packard Merlin 266

Serial/Reg. TE384, (VH-XVI), (N384TE)

Sqdn - code: 603-RAJ-L, 501-RAB-, 612-8W-, VI-X

Role in film: Taxy, Currently: airworthy

History

TE384 was ordered from Vickers Armstrongs Ltd against Contract No. B981687/39.C23(c) on 19th April 1944 and built at Castle Bromwich with a Packard Merlin 266 as part of batch TE375-408. It was delivered to No.6 MU Brize Norton on 3rd August 1945 and remained in store until issue to No.603 (City of Glasgow) squadron of the RAuxAF at Turnhouse in May 1947, in whose service it was coded RAJ-L.

The aircraft was damaged in July 1948, but was repaired by November that year, only to be transferred to No.501 (County of Gloucester) squadron at Filton, where it would have been coded RAB-? March 1949 saw TE384 transferred to No.612 (County of Aberdeen) squadron at Dyce, where it was based until dispatched to Airwork General Trading Ltd at Gatwick, acting under sub-contract from Vickers, for an overhaul between July 1951 and July 1952. 3rd July 1952 saw the aircraft suffer a Cat.4R flying accident, probably whilst on a post-overhaul test flight.

It was soon allocated to No.9 MU at Cosford, where the damage was recategorized as 3R, and repairs were effected by September 1952. It remained in store at Cosford until August 1954, when it was moved to No.20 MU at Aston Down, although it was back with No.9 MU by 20th September. December 1954 saw it transferred to non-effective stock at Cosford and maintenance serial 7207M was allocated on 26th August 1955. Shortly afterwards it was despatched to Wymeswold for display purposes.

It was soon removed to Syerston for similar duties and remained displayed there as XT-C until 1967, when it was loaned to Spitfire Productions Ltd and transported to Henlow for use in the film The Battle of Britain. Simpsons Aeroservices Ltd had found the Merlin 266, No. V361660, to be in good order and had it running on 20th November 1967. A canopy from F21 LA198 was fitted, together with a false rear fuselage decking, rounded rudder and false wingtips. The cannon stubs were cut from the leading edges of both wings, a radio was installed and the newly camouflaged aircraft was on its way to North Weald for filming in April 1968, serving a similar role at Duxford later that year as N3320/AI-L, N3323/AI-Q, N3320/AI-H, N3320/DO-L, N3315/LC-F, N3314/AI-E, N3324/AI-P and N3314/BO-E.

During May 1968, when painted as N3320/AI-L, TE184 tipped on to its nose during taxying on rough grass at North Weald and sustained a broken propeller, one of many such accidents whilst filming. The aircraft was left in its tail-up position and served as background dressing for further location filming.

With the filming over, TE184 was returned to normal L.F.XVIe configuration at Henlow and placed in store in October 1968. The new year saw it allocated to the RAF Museum and it remained in the museums Henlow store until 1972 when it was exchanged with Australian Hockey Treloar’s Supermarine Seagull V amphibian, VH-ALD, now exhibited in the Battle of Britain Museum, Hendon as A2-4.

The Spitfire was flown to Amberley RAAF base in a Belfast in December 1972, and although some initial work was done on restoring it to flying condition it was soon placed in store, where it remained for several years. It was moved to Toowoomba in September 1983 by J F Czerwinski and Barry Hempel  and work was begun to rebuild the aircraft to flying condition in light of this the aircraft was registered VH-XVI.

Restored as VH-XVI its first flight was on October 6th 1988. It was purchased in 1998 by Ken McBride and was restored at St Jose, California where it was re-registered as N384TE. The aircraft itself is currently airworthy although the engine was destroyed by contaminated oil.

Current location – Ken McBride, San Martin, California – airworthy except engine.

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