In the world of the Spitfire it was perhaps the biggest surprise in years,...
a Spitfire went on a trip around the world, something that had never been done before. And the
Spitfire that was selected for this challenge was the former Dutch Spitfire LF.Mk IXc, MJ271.
After years of being exhibited, it was sold in 2006 and stored in crates at Duxford, England,
but it would be brought back to life for the 39,000 km long trip around the world in 2019,...
In the National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome in
Lelystad, which opened in November 2003, stood until 2006 on
display Spitfire LF.Mk IXc, MJ271. The Spitfire entered service on 15 February, 1944
with the RAF No. 118 Squadron. It mainly flew
escort flights until 8 March with this squadron before it was
transferred to No. 132 Squadron. Here it flew as the FF-P
from RAF Detling. She was given a shared victory on
26 April 1944 when a Ju-34 was destroyed. After 28
operational missions it went wrong on 9 May when MJ271
made a belly landing,... the landing gear was still neat
in the wings! It marked the end of operational flying for
the forgetful Pilot Captain T.
repairs the Spitfire was delivered in November 1944 to the
No. 401 Squadron. From Volkel, Holland, MJ271 flew ten missions
before it remained grounded after 13 December when deformations
were found in the sheet metal.
1946, LF.Mk IXc, MJ271 during a testflight for the Dutch air force
After an overhaul, Spitfire MJ271 went into storage. 11 November 1946
MJ271 is being flown by Lieutenant Vijzelaar and
accepted as one of 58 Spitfires for the Dutch air force.
She crosses the North Sea on 25 November and is stationed
at Twente airbase as part of the JVS (Fighter plane school).
In August 1947 she receives the Dutch marking H-8. The first overhaul
is at Fokker where she arrives on 14 June 1949. A year later in
October and November 1950 the first test flights were made at Schiphol,
Amsterdam. After test flights on 13 and 19 February 1951,
MJ271 was accepted by the air force and returned
to Twente. The camouflage was gone and in the summer the markings
3W-8 appeared on the fuselage. As part of 322 Squadron it was
stationed at Soesterberg on 31 August 1952.
LF.Mk IXc, MJ271, 3W-8 on a painting by Thijs Postma
On 29 September 1953, MJ271 made here final flight and was put
in open storage. The Spitfire had no longer a future and nobody
wanted them anymore now the jet was entering service. Spitfire MJ271
became a ‘decoy’ at the airbase of Volkel.
In 1956 the aircraft was 'rescued' by 313 Squadron when it
was placed near the crewroom with a TA-26 marking on the
nose and the name "Opa" (Grandpa) on the fuselage below the cockpit.
MJ271 'Opa' (TA-26) is rescued from the rooftop in Delfzijl (1973)
On 6 January 1959, Spitfire
MJ271 becomes a museum object when it departs for Delfzijl. But
deprived of many parts and a play object for children
were an omen for the decline of this Spitfire. After some repairs MJ271 was
placed in 1962 onto the roof of a building that housed a war museum.
By this time it was unclear what the original serial was from this Spitfire.
Dutch Spitfire 'know it all' Harry van der Meer came with the solution.
In 1971 when he found out that the Spitfire in Delfzijl was MJ271.
MJ271's Rolls-Royce Merlin
during her stay at the Aviodome (Schiphol)
To prevent a further decay of MJ271, it was decided to transfer
the Spitfire to The Hague for restoration at the Anthony Fokker School.
And so it was lifted from the roof in Delfzijl on 4 April 1973 and
Because the Delfzijl museum in 1976 closed its doors, it was decided
that the museum at
Schiphol would become the lucky owner of MJ271. In early 1978
the Aviodome started the restoration in its own restoration workshop,
with Harry van der Meer at the helm, who was by now the curator of the
Aviodome. On 12 January 1982, the restoration complete, MJ271 was
revealed as ‘MH424’, H-53, as a tribute to the Dutch servicemen who
flew Spitfires in Indonesia.
De MJ271 'dressed' as the H-53
When the Aviodome closed its doors and the collection went to a new location,
the National Aviation theme park
Aviodrome at Lelystad Airport, MJ271 went along. Here she had her own
hall, beautifully lit, to shine with pride. But the museum and theme park
struggled to keep the ship afloat when the public failt to find its way
to the museum. In 2006 it was decided to sell some of the collection to
make some money, and unfortunately MJ271 was one of the victims. Despite
protests from many, the Spitfire was sold and shipped to Duxford, England
with the prospect to make it airworthy again. But it was crated and waited
In 2014 the Spitfire was checked over and it was noted that the aircraft
was affected by moisture, including the once airworthy propeller. A buyer was
desperately needed, but it would take two years before in 2016 a buyer presented it self.
LF.Mk IXc, MJ271, ('MH424') H-53 inspired
Thijs Postma for a seond painting
MJ271 was purchased by the Boultbee Flight Academy and was offered to the Aircraft Restoration Company
(ARC) at Duxford for restoration and to make her airworthy again. One would expect
the machine to be rolled out in a camouflage, as most restored Spitfires are, but Boultbee had
other plans, this Spitfire would have no exterior paint on her, except for the black anti-glare
in front of the cockpit, black propeller blades and the fabric covered rudder parts in aluminum paint.
MJ271 would appear entirely in high-gloss aluminum. The aim was to send the Spitfire around the
world, and without military markings on the fuselage it would show just the beauty of the aircraft without
the legacy of aggression it once had. For that reason the guns were also removed.
LF.Mk IXc, MJ271, G-IRTY first flight after restoration
The 'Silver Spitfire' made its first flight after the restoration on 27 June 2019.
With the registration G-IRTY the two pilots,
Steve Brooks and Matt Jones would leave for the 27,000 nautical miles (almost
44,000 kilometers) undertaking on 5 August 2019. Place of departure for the undertaking
was Goodwood Aerodrome, West Sussex, where the Boultbee Flight Academy is located.
The aim was to return at Goodwood on 5 December (this turned out to be a day later).
The longest stretch of flight during that trip was from Kuwait to Jordan; 679.2 miles (1000 km) on 9 November.
Lelystad, 4 December 2019; both pilots Matt Jones en Steve Brooks,
who flew the Spitfire around the world, pose with MJ271,
On 5 December 2019, the Spitfire was back at Goodwood Aerodrome after a very
successful venture, covering more than 22138 NM (40,999 kilometers).
The intended route was slightly modified during the undertaking, such as the landing
in France was dropped from the flight plan. The last stop before the return to England was
at the airport of Lelystad, the place where
Spitfire MJ271 once was a part of the exhibition at the National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome.
For a more detailed report on
the adventures of
‘The Longest Flight’ with Spitfire MJ271, G-IRTY,
and here visit at Lelystad Airport,
click below on this beautiful silver machine,