Supermarine Spitfire MkIX EN199
Read about 'Merlins over Malta'.
The return of a Spitfire and Hurricane to Malta in 2005.
The aircraft during its years in service
The aircraft after restoration
Brief history of this aircraft
Spitfire Mk.IX, EN199, on display at the Malta Aviation Museum, was first flown at Eastleigh on 28 November 1942 and taken on charge by 12 Maintenance Unit on 1 December, moving to 82 MU on the same day. Eight days later it moved to 47 MU followed by a move to Glasgow two days later. Here it was loaded on MV Marsa and shipped together with others to Gibraltar where it arrived by 13 January 1943 and later reassembled.
The aircraft was flown to the North Africa front on 29 January 1943. Here it was flown by Wing Commander R. Berry D.F.C., whose initials are now the codes worn on the fuselage and Squadron Leader C. F. Gray, Commanding Officer No.81 Squadron. EN199 took part in the Allied OPERATION TORCH landings and the subsequent Tunisian campaign and fought until the Axis surrender on the Cape Bone peninsula.
Following damage, EN199 was issued to No.154 Squadron which had moved from North Africa to Malta from where it took part in OPERATION HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. The aircraft moved to the Italian mainland taking part in further operations, probably joining No.1435 Squadron when the Mark Vs were replaced by IXs. It was photographed at Brindisi in the Spring of 1944 and again later with No.225 Squadron.
From 11 October 1945 up to 3 January 1946 the aircraft was recorded as taking part in meteorological flights with air sea rescue & communications flight, Hal Far. It then moved to Luqa with no.73 squadron. Whilst at Luqa it was blown into a quarry during a gale. EN199 was struck off charge and later presented to the Boy Scout movement based at Floriana. A few years later the aircraft was transported from the scouts' island headquarters by civil defence staff to their headquarters and school at Gharghur. From Gharghur it was taken to the new rescue training wing at Targa gap in April 1956 where it languished in a disrespectful state. It was not until 1990's that restoration work started on what remained of the aircraft.
First flown in the UK on the 28 November 1942.
First action was on the North Africa Front, on 29 January 1943, with 81 Squadron, where it was flown by Wing Commander R Berry DFC whose initials are now the codes worn on the fuselage.
Moved to Malta with No 154 Squadron at Ta' Qali where it took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.
Moved to Sicily/Italy with 1435 then 225 Squadron.
Returned to Malta in October 1945 and took part in meteorological flights from Hal Far.
Finally it moved to Luqa where during a gale it was damaged in the tail section which resulted in it being removed from service.
On the 27 May 1947, Spitfire EN199 was presented by the RAF to the Malta Air Scouts. Although placed in a compound surrounded by 'barbed wire' vandals found their way in and many parts were removed as souveniers.
In 1974 an Association was formed to establish a National War Museum. As much as possible of the Spitfire wreckage was collected with the intention of restore it but this proved to be beyond their capabilities at the time.
In the early 1990's a dedicated group of volunteers started a project to renovate the aircraft to 'static display' standard. The initial work was done in Ray Polidano's garage. This was the beginning of the Malta Aviation Museum.
Completed in 2.5 years, including parts donated, purchased, manufactured and renovated. Some parts were recovered from underwater wrecks found in the waters around Malta.
In 1995, the reconstructed Spitfire EN199 was displayed in Valletta on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of VE Day.
The aircraft is now on display in the Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar.
Spitfire and Seafire Variants
The prototype Spitfire (K5054) was flown unpainted by chief test pilot 'Mutt' Summers at Eastleigh airfield (now Southampton airport) on March 5th 1936. The Spitfire Mk.I reached No.19 Squadron at Duxford in July 1938. The Mk.1 Spitfire had a 1,030-hp Merlin II engine and eight Browning 0.303-in machine guns. In early 1940 the Mk.IB was delivered which had a superior armament of two 20-mm cannon and four 0.303-in machine guns. Subsequent variants improved engine power, firepower, and strengthened airframes. Variants included fighters, high altitude interceptors, low level interceptors, Photo Reconnaissance aircraft at high and low level, and even a naval version called the Seafire.
The Mk.V Spitfire had a strengthened fuselage, a more powerful Merlin engine of 1,440-hp or 1,470-hp with drop tank and provisions for a 500 Ib bomb. The armament varied with either eight 0.303-in machine guns, two cannons and four machine guns, or four cannons. Spitfires designed to operate at low level had the tips of their wings removed to improve manoeuvrability and speed at low level. No fewer than 6,479 Spitfire Vs were built, more than any other mark.
The Mk.IX Spitfire was also built in large numbers with a total of 5,665 aircraft produced. In fact the Mk.IX was simply a Mk.V Spitfire with a newer engine. The Spitfire Mk.VIII was a much better aircraft and in the opinion of most pilots the nicest of all Spitfires to fly and yet far fewer were built.
The Mk.XIV was the most important Spitfire in the final year of World War 2. It had a two-stage Griffon engine delivering 2,050-hp and driving a five bladed propeller. The airframe was redesigned and strengthened with symmetric deep radiators, broad tail and often a teardrop canopy. A total of 957 of these aircraft were built.
Original production model with 1,030-hp Merlin II engine, 8 Browning 0.303-in guns (Mk IB had 2 20-mm cannons and 4 0.303-in machine guns), Total aircraft 1,566.
Castle Bromwich aircraft with small changes and 1,175-hp Merlin XII engine, Total aircraft 750 IIA and 170 IIB.
Experimental prototype with 1,280-hp Merlin XX engine, Total aircraft 1.
Griffon engined prototype
Strengthened fuselage for 1,440-hp Merlin 45 or 1,470-hp Merlin 50, drop tank and bomb provisions, A (8 machine guns), B (2 cannon & 4 machine guns), or C (4 cannons) armament, Total aircraft 94 VA, 3,923 VB, and 2,447 VC.
High altitude interceptor with 1,415-hp Merlin 47, pressurized cockpit and pointed wings, Total aircraft 100.
High altitude interceptor with 2 stage Merlin 61, 64 or 71, pressurized cockpit, retractable tailwheel, often broad pointed rudder, Total aircraft 140.
Definitive fighter with 2 stage Merlin 61, 63, 66, or 70, unpressurized, Total aircraft 1,658.
Temporary stop-gap, marriage of 2 stage Merlin 61, 63, 66, or 70 with Mk V airframe, B, C, or E (2 cannons & 2 0.5-in machine guns) armament, Total aircraft 5,665.
Pressurized version of PR.XI, Merlin 77, Total aircraft 16.
Unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, Merlin 61, 63, or 70, Total aircraft 471.
Low level interceptor, single stage Griffon II or IV of 1,735-hp, B armament, Total aircraft 100.
Low level PR aircraft based on Mk V but with Merlin 32 (3 blade prop), Four 0.303-in machine guns only, Total aircraft 18.
2 stage Griffon 65 or 66 of 2.050-hp driving 5 blade propeller and redesigned & strengthened airframe with symmetric deep radiators, broad tail, and often teardrop canopy, C or E armament, Total aircraft 957.
Mk IX with Packard Merlin 266, usually C or E armament, many with teardrop canopy, Total aircraft 1,054.
Definitive fighter with 2 stage Griffon, E armament, teardrop canopy, extra wing fuel, FR.XVIII (post-war FR.18) with rear fuselage reconnaissance camera, Total aircraft 300.
Unarmed PR version, 2 stage Griffon, most pressurized, Total aircraft 225.
Prototype rebuilt from Mk.IV and prototype Mk.XII, Total aircraft 225.
Redesigned airframe, mainly Griffon 61 or 64 driving five bladed propeller, Four 20-mm guns, Total aircraft 122.
Minor changes, some with 2,375-hp Griffon 85, and contra-prop Total aircraft 278.
Minor changes, Spiteful tail, short barrel Mk V cannon, Total aircraft 54.
Naval Spitfire VB Total aircraft 166.
Catapult hooks and strengthened landing gear, Merlin 32 engine driving four blade propeller, Total aircraft 372.
Double folding wing, 1,585-hp Merlin 55M engine, Total aircraft 1,220.
Single stage 1,850-hp Griffon VI and asymmetric radiators as Spitfire XII, Most with sting hook, Late production teardrop canopy, Total aircraft 390.
Seafire XVII or 17
As Seafire XV with teardrop canopy, often strengthened landing gear, Some (FR.17) with camera in place of rear tank, Total aircraft 232.
Same new airframe as Spitfire 21, Non folding wing, Griffon 61 (5 blade prop), or 85 (contra-prop), Total aircraft 50.
As Seafire 45, teardrop canopy, FR.46 with rear fuselage camera, Late production Spiteful tail, Total aircraft 24.
Folding wing (most hydraulic), 2,375-hp Griffon 87 or 88 with contra-prop and carburettor air inlet just below spinner, Increased fuel, Late production all FR type with camera, Total aircraft 140.