The "Spitfire Smile" !!! Apparently every Pilot flying a Spitfire for the first time returns with a big smile on their face. The flight took place on May 3rd from the former WWII RAF Base Biggin Hill, just out of London. A Victory Roll was performed in memory of the late Alex Henshaw MBE, Chief Spitfire Test Pilot at the Castle Bromwich manufacturing Plant during WWII. A good friend and mentor.

A view of the unique Spitfire Wings, which give the aircraft such amazing manoeuvrability.

Instructor Don Sigourney and Aviation Writer discussing the flight after returning to Biggin Hill

Mk IX Spitfire MJ 627. This aircraft shot down an Me 109 during WWII.

Mk IX Spitfire MJ627 History

Built at Castle Bromwich, autumn of 1943.

• First flown on November 27.

• Stored at 9 MU, Cosford until the spring of 1944. On March 13, MJ627 arrived at General

Aircraft for further checks which were almost certainly conducted at Hanworth, Middlesex.

• Entered service with number 441(Silver Fox) Sqn, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on September 25, 1944 and served with the RAF from Advanced Landing Ground B70 located in Belgium. She was given the codes ‘9G-Q’

 • On September 27, 1944 Pilot Officer Bregman took off in MJ627 to patrol the Arnhem area and was credited with the downing of a Bf109. The combat film of his victory still survives

 • Remaining with 441 Sqn, MJ627 was kept busy during the latter part of 1944 and the following sorties were recorded:

 • November 6 – Flying Officer F.E.Manette was tasked to cover 216 Lancaster Bomber aircraft that were targeting Gelsenkirchen.

 • November 10 – Flight Lieutenant Smith flew an ‘op’ to Minoru, escorting Dakotas to Paris.

 • November 27 – Flying Officer B.M. Mackenzie gave top cover for Lancasters to Cologne.

 • November 29 – Flying Officer Bregman flew as a withdrawal escort for 270 Lancaster

 • December 8 – Flying Officer Bregman escorted 220 Lancasters to the Heinbach Dam with the Squadron then landing at Brussels as the weather had closed in at home base.

 • December 27, 1944 441 Sqn. moved to Skeabrae, Orkney Islands, Scotland for defence of the Naval Fleet. March 9, 1945, following a routine patrol, MJ627 experienced engine problems that resulted in a forced-landing

• On September 11, 1945, MJ627 was repaired at Air Service Training, Hamble.

 • MJ was sold to Vickers Armstrong Ltd on July 19, 1950 for conversion to a T9 Trainer

 • MJ627 was sold to the Irish Air Corps, given the markings IAC 158 and delivered to

Baldonnel, near Dublin on June 5, 1951, staying until withdrawal on April 20, 1960.

 • In 1989 MJ627 was moved to Coventry, Warks, for assembly at Dollar Air Services and had its first engine runs in 1992.

 • First post-restoration flight: November 8 1993 – timed to coincide with its original first flight 50 years previously at Castle Bromwich. In view of MJ627’s operational history it was finished in number 441 Sqn colours, and coded 9G-Q with invasion stripes.