The Shuttleworth Collection’s Spitfire AR501 soared successfully into the skies for its maiden flight, following a full restoration project, at 15.47 on Tuesday 20 March 2018, in the hands of experienced warbird pilot Stu Goldspink. The pilot reported that the aircraft is handling beautifully and all systems functioning correctly with just a couple of minor adjustments required. A second, longer, test flight was carried out the next morning confirming the aircraft is behaving well. The flight test programme will continue over the next few weeks.
This Spitfire is an original aircraft that saw active service in the Second World War and is wearing the livery of No 310 (Czech) Squadron, where it served in operations in 1942-1943. Sporting its original ‘clipped’ wing tips that gave Spitfires a better roll rate rather than the standard elliptical tips most are familiar with.
The painstaking restoration which took over 10years to complete by the Collection’s full-time engineering team and skilled volunteers, involved completely dismantling the airframe into its smallest components to inspect and refurbish all the parts. The project included the complete overhaul of the 1,440hp Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine, also carried out ‘in house’, and a new propeller and spinner.
Chief Engineer Jean-Michel Munn said, “This is a very original aircraft, and one that served in combat during the Second World War. It’s a privilege for The Collection to be able to return it to airworthy status and have it back flying for visitors to experience the sight and sound of this iconic type.”
AR501 is intending to display for the first time since restoration at The Collection’s Season Premiere & RAF 100 airshow on Sunday 6 May Stu Goldspink will be giving the pilot chat with the aircraft at 11.00 before the air display begins at 14.00. Veterans over 85 have free entry to this show.
AR501 can also be seen onscreen (static) in the RAF at 100 with Ewan and Colin McGregor on BBC One, screening Sunday 25 March at 20.30!