PV202 rolled off the Vickers-Supermarine production line at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory in the West Midlands in September 1944 before being delivered to No 33 Maintenance Unit, RAF Lyneham for kitting out to RAF standards and then onward delivery to No 84 Ground Support Unit based at RAF Thruxton. In October that year PV202 acquired the fuselage code letters of ‘5R-Q’ of No 33 Squadron and became part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force based at the former Luftwaffe airfield at Merville in northern France carrying out close air support missions over Europe. Following a move to Maldegem in Belgium, PV202 returned to the UK in December 1944 to No 84 G.S.U now based at RAF Lasham when No 33 Sqdn. converted to Hawker Tempest fighter/bombers. At the start of the New Year, PV202 moved to No 83 G.S.U., RAF Dunsfold before being transferred to No 412 ‘Falcon’ Sqdn. Royal Canadian Air Force based at Heesch in the Netherlands and carrying the fuselage codes of ‘VZ-M’ and later ‘VZ-W’. It was involved in sorties against opportunist ground targets, eventually operating out of captured Luftwaffe airfields inside Germany itself. In May 1945, PV202 carried out its last operational mission and was returned to No 83 G.S.U, Dunsfold where it was stripped of operational military equipment before going into storage with No 29 Maintenance Unit, RAF High Ercall, Shropshire in July 1945 to await its disposal, probably for scrap.
VICKERS SUPERMARINE LTD SPITFIRE IXT/QV-I/X4474(PV202)
I saw a Spitfire taking off as the bus was approaching Duxford in the morning but as it was banking away I couldn’t make out which one it was. About 12.30 as I was sitting outside by the VC-10 finishing lunch, I could hear a Merlin engine off in the distance behind me, The Historic Flying Ltd IXT appeared from behind the AirSpace hangar and then we had a short aerobatic display under the slowly lowering cloud base. Once I knew which Spitfire it was, it was then a long brisk walk up to the M11 end to catch it parking up. Due to the weather conditions, it was a bit dark, and not having a long lens with me I didn't get any flying shots.
IWM Duxford - 05Mar11 75th Anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire and I managed to catch one flying at Duxford on the day.
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Vickers Supermarine Spitfire LFIX (IXT)/c/n CBAF950/PV202/IAC 161/(G-BHGH/G-TRIX/G-CCCA)
In March 2007, its Dutch owner Karel Bos, decided to have IAC161 repainted in the colours of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force) to represent one of three Spitfire trainers sold to the Dutch in 1948. Now in a grey/green camouflage with Dutch national markings and carrying the fuselage codes ‘H-98’, the new colour scheme was first seen at the May 2007 air show at Duxford before its debut at the air show at Deurne Airport, Antwerp, Belgium later that month. In 2010, ‘H-98’ emerged from the paint shop with another new colour scheme as a tribute to the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It was now in a brown/green camouflage with the fuselage code letters ‘QV-I’ to represent a Mk 1 Spitfire of No 19 Squadron operating out of RAF Fowlmere, a satellite landing ground near Duxford.
In July 1950, PV202 was one of a number of Mk IX Spitfires stored at High Ercall that were bought by Vickers-Armstrong (Aircraft) Ltd for conversion into two-seat armed trainers. The Irish Air Corps were showing an interest in a Spitfire trainer for converting pilots onto the IAC Seafire. The conversion consisted of removing the fuselage fuel tank and moving the front cockpit forward 13 inches, adding a rear cockpit with a large bubble canopy over it for the instructor to sit in, removal of some of the wing guns and additional fuel tanks added in their place. In total 20 Spitfires were eventually converted to two-seat trainers. PV202 was converted to the Type 509 configuration at the Vickers-Armstrong Eastleigh factory near Southampton and test flown with the markings G-15-174. In an overall green colour scheme and Irish national markings, IAC161 was delivered and brought on charge with the Irish Air Corps in June 1951. With the IAC retiring its Seafire fleet, the Spitfire trainers were no longer needed and in December 1960 were withdrawn from use and used at the Ground Technical Training School, Baldonnel as instructional airframes.
In March 1968, IAC161, along with three other two-seaters, were decommissioned and struck off charge from the Irish Air Corps when they were sold to Tony Samuelson for possible use in the forthcoming ‘Battle of Britain’ film. Two were returned to flying condition for the film but IAC161 was never used and did not fly and eventually stored in Elstree at the Samuelson Film Services hangar. There the four aircraft remained until put up for sale and eventually sold to Sir William Roberts in April 1970 to join his Strathallan Aircraft Collection in Scotland. In August 1979, IAC161/PV202 along with IAC162/ML407, now flying and know as the ‘Grace Spitfire’, was bought by Nick Grace and moved to St. Merryn, Cornwall. IAC161 was sold on to Steve Atkins and the dismantled aircraft was moved to Saffron Waldon, Essex, for a rebuild to full flying condition as a twin-seater. A lower profile canopy, of the type still being used by the Grace Spitfire replaced the original tall bubble canopy. A civilian registration of G-BHGH was reserved but G-TRIX was eventually used and the aircraft was relocated to Sussex. In February 1990, IAC161 completed its first post restoration flight with Pete Kynsey at the controls at BAe Dunsfold, wearing the markings of ‘VZ-M/PV202’ of No 412 RCAF Sqdn. it carried in 1945. Ownership then passed on to Richard Parker who flew it on the air show circuit for a couple of years. In July 1992, PV202 was sold on to Rick Roberts who was based at Goodwood. Following repairs at Hawker Restoration, Earl Colne, Essex following an undercarriage problem, PV202 had a change of code letters reverting to ‘5Q-R’ of No 33 Sqdn that it carried in 1944.
In March 2000, PV202 was sold on to Greg McCurrach who had the intention of moving PV202 to his home base in South Africa. Unfortunately Greg McCulloch and his instructor Norman Lees were fatally injured when PV202 crashed during a landing approach at Goodwood in April that year. With the aircraft remains having been moved to Farnborough and following the completion of the crash investigation, PV202 was put up for sale in February 2001. Following an inspection by ARCo/HFL to see if it could be rebuilt, Karel Bos, the owner of HFL, bought PV202. PV202 was to be finished in its original IAC161 green colour scheme and the original bubble canopy was found in storage in Norflok and acquired for the rebuild. The American Packard built Merlin 266 was replaced with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 66, the type fitted to the IAC Spitfires, which had been rebuilt to zero time condition by Universal Airmotive in Chicago. In February 2003 the civilian registration changed from G-TRIX to G-CCCA with Historic flying Ltd as the owners and in February 2004, engine runs were stared with a view to flying in the 2004 air show season. Unfortunately ground testing revealed an engine problem which wasn’t fixed until the end of the year. In December 2004, engine testing recommenced and in January 2005, John Romain took IAC161 for a test flight and following flight-testing was awarded its permit to fly by the CAA.