Along with N9939 which had earlier flown into the ground during an aerobatics display but was not badly damaged, N109ME visited various air shows in America, mainly as a static exhibit, and both aircraft eventually ended up in Phoenix, Arizona where N109ME was restored back to flying condition. It flew for a few times before going on display in 1979 first at Harligen and then at Midland, Texas when the Confederate Air Force moved there in 1991. In October 1999, N109ME was transported by road to Wiley-Post Airport, Oklahoma, for a complete rebuild to flying condition. After being grounded for 23 years, N109ME took to the air again in May 2004 finished in the markings of the personal mount of Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Marseille who served in North Africa and who was credited with 158 aircraft shot down before he died. By 2007, N190ME was being advertised by the Commemorative Air Force (the name was changed from Confederate Air Force in 2002) for sale with Courtesy aircraft.

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In 1966, the Confederate Air Force based at Harligen, Texas bought four Hispano HA 1112-M1L Buchon aircraft from the Spanish Government. The Buchon was derived from the German Bf 109-G fighter but fitted with a 1,600hp Rolls-Royce 500-45 Merlin engine, and as the HA 1112-M1L flew for the first time in March 1954. It remained in service until December 1965.

        The four aircraft were registered as N8575, N9939, N9938 (later to be re-registered as G-AWHK/G-BWUE and now flying in Battle of Britain film markings with Historic Flying Limited at Duxford) and N109ME (later to be registered as G-AWHE). Two years later, all four aircraft were leased to Spitfire Productions Ltd for the Battle of Britain film and moved first to Spain and Tablada Air Base, Seville and then in June 1968 to Duxford with N109ME flying as ‘Red-8’. It acquired the UK civilian registration of G-AWHE in May 1968, which was then cancelled in February 1969 after N109ME returned to America where it continued flying for a while. In 1975 N109ME acquired a dual personality, and another film role, as one half of the aircraft was painted up to represent a Bf-109 in Spanish Civil War markings for the film ‘Hindenburg’.

G-AWHE is now registered to the new owner of Spitfire Ltd and will divide its time, along with Spitfire Mk XVI/TD248, between its home base at Humberside Airport and Duxford.

N109ME arrived back at Duxford in June 2008, 40 years to the month after its last visit, and regained its previous UK civilian identity of G-AWHE and registered to Magnificent Obsessions Ltd, Louth, Lincolnshire. For the next 3 years G-AWHE underwent a thorough overhaul in the capable hands of the engineers at the Aircraft Restoration Company/Historic Flying Limited workshops. Although it had been seen and photographed in the ARCo compound a few times before hand, the first public appearance of G-AWHE was at the Duxford Autumn Air Show on the 10th October 2010 finished in the desert colours of Maj Erich Gerlitz, Gruppenkommandeur of III/JG53 based at Quotaifiya, Egypt in July 1942. Following engine runs and taxi trials, a Permit to Test was issued by the CAA and on the evening of the 6th May 2011, after the museum closed and the public had gone home, John Romain took G-AWHE for a 20 minute test flight.

LA HISPANO-AVIACION SA HA-1112-M1L (c/n 67) C.4K-31/Buchon/G-AWHE (N109ME)

LA HISPANO-AVIACION SA HA-1112-M1L (c/n 67) C.4K-31/Buchon/G-AWHE (N109ME)

With the Sabre required for its appearance at Old Warden at the weekend, the 'Desert' Buchon had to be moved so the Sabre could be extracted from inside hangar 2. With the short time it would be out in the sunshine, it was a quick walk around the Buchon with the camera before it was towed back into the hangar and parked in the spot left by Sabre.

Friday, 5th August 2011

*New Update*

May 2011