An historic Spitfire that downed German aircraft during the Second World War before starring in a string of Hollywood hit films in the 1960s is set to sell for a record £4.5million.
The 79-year-old warplane spent 40 years in a Texas barn before being shipped to Australia for restoration five years ago, and was finally sent back to its homeland in Britain where it will be sold.
MH415, as the Spitfire’s tail number reads, has been brought back to its brilliant best with up to 95 cent of its original parts making it ready to dominate the skies once again.
Originally constructed in 1943 at Castle Bromwich, the aircraft was delivered to RAF Squadron 129, then stationed at Hornchurch in August that year. It would later participate in sweeps across the continent with RAF 222 (Natal) Squadron, before being retired in 1945 and ending up at De Havilland’s at Whitney, Oxfordshire.
Records show MH415 had a distinguished operational record during the Second World War when it was often involved in the thick of the action when flown over the European theatre by C.O Squadron Leader Gonay. MH415 counted at least one German FW-190 light aircraft among its victory marks.
But the Spitfire would hit new heights when it played a starring role in the 1962 American epic ‘The Longest Day’ and The Battle of Britain in 1969. It would later wow crowds at airshows across the United States.
The plane, which sports RAF 222 (Natal) livery as flown in the 1940s, will now land in one lucky owner’s air hanger, but will set them back approximately £4.5million, after going under the hammer at auction.
The historic Spitfire MH415 (pictured) that downed German aircraft during the Second World War before starring in a string of Hollywood hit films in the 1960s is set to sell for a record £4.5million
MH415, as the Spitfire’s tail number reads, has been brought back to its brilliant best with up to 95 cent of its original parts making it ready to dominate the skies once again
The warplane spent 40 years in a Texas barn before being shipped to Australia for restoration five years ago, and was finally sent back to its homeland in Britain where it will be sold
The one-seater Spitfire, valued at £4.5 million, is currently stored in a hangar in Northamptonshire.
Experts say that MH415, a 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mark LF IXb, is among the most original Spitfires still capable of flying in the world.
This is because it has ‘continuous history’, meaning the vast majority of its structure can be traced back to its manufacture.
The interior is still the original Second World War specification, including the pilot seat and vintage rearview mirror.
Planes of a similar age are often fitted with newer parts after being damaged in the war or suffering ageing.
But in lieu of receiving payment for flying more than 125 hours in mock dogfights in the 1969 classic ‘The Battle of Britain’, stunt pilot Wilson ‘Connie’ Edwards chose MH415 as his prize.
He shipped it back to his ranch in Texas, taking to the skies only a handful of times before it was stored in his barn for 41 years. Edwards sold the plane in 2014 and shipped it to Australia.
MH415 would play a starring role in the 1969 hit film ‘The Battle of Britain’, which featured Sir Michael Caine
After a lengthy restoration process by Vintage Fighter Restorations, in which the team used existing components rather than modern replacements, the iconic Spitfire was returned to Sywell Aerodome in Northamptonshire last year.
Auctioneers The Aircraft Sales Company said: ‘MH415 stayed fully assembled, other than for shipping and maintenance, from its date of manufacture.
‘Right through to the commencement of its restoration in 2015 and completed to airworthiness 2021.
‘A truly remarkable aircraft with documented WWII combat history. MH415 is one of the most original airworthy Spitfires in the world.’
The seller added: ‘On the 24th September 1943, MH415 claimed a FW-190 ‘victory’ north-west of Amiens in France whilst being flown by F/O Desmond F. Ruchwaldy.
‘During ‘Ramrod 242’, it was a mission to escort 12 Mitchell bombers detailed to attack the Amiens Marshalling Yards.
‘During 1968 the aircraft starred in one of the most famous movies of all time, ‘The Battle of Britain’, released September 1969.’
Richard Grace, of the Aircraft Sales Company, added: ‘This is the most original Spitfire flying in the world. Only the wing spars have been replaced. It shot down a Focke-Wulf-190 in the Second World War and is a very early Mark IX which is very rare. I have flown it and it is lovely to fly.’
The Spitfire entered service in 1938 as the first all-metal monoplane and the fastest aircraft in the RAF. It was able to reach 350mph when first produced, but this speed was eventually increased by around 35 per cent.