1945 Supermarine Spitfire XVIe
Spitfire XVIe TE392
13 Hours Since Complete Restoration
Air to Air Photos copyright Gavin Conroy.
Ground Photos copyright Mark Greenmantle
REG: VH-RAF (CASA Australia)
CATEGORY: Limited Category
AIRFRAME: 13.0 Hrs since comprehensive 100 point restoration (including new wing spars) by Performance Aero, Archerfield, Qld, Australia circa 2018-2019. First Post Restoration Flight 13 January 2020.
ENGINE: Packard Merlin 266. 13.0 Hrs SMOH by Vintage V-12s USA.
PROPELLER: Rotol four (4) blade with new hub. 13.0 Hrs TTSN by Skycraft UK.
Trig VHF Comm
Garmin Aera 660 GPS
EXTERIOR: Authentic RAF Day Fighter scheme in the livery of DV*A, as flown by Sqn Ldr Tony Gaze DFC & Two Bars. Applied by Steve Aitken (UK). 10/10
INTERIOR: Authentic period, as per factory. 10/10
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT: 40 Gal (Imp) Wing Tanks for extended range. Automatic H20 Spray Bar system in Radiators.
LOCATION: Archerfield (YBAF), Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
STATUS: In Annual. (expires 1/2021) “As Is Where Is”
LAST FLIGHT: 10/2020
ABOUT: Built for the RAF, TE392 rolled off the Vickers-Armstrong production line in Castle Bromwich near wars end during the spring of 1945. Too late to see active war-time service, TE392 served with various RAF units until formally retired from her military flying career in September 1952 when the RAF relegated the Spitfire to ground instruction duties at RAF Church Lawford. After serving in this role at various locations for the next few years, the fighter went on display atop a pole at RAF Kemble, in September 1967. The RAF then moved the aircraft to RAF Hereford in February 1970, again for pole-mounted display. Here she stayed until 1984, when the British Ministry of Defence traded her to well-known warbird collector, Doug Arnold in exchange for North American B-25J Mitchell 44-29366.
Arnold sent the ‘time capsule’ TE392 for restoration with Aerofab in Thruxton, Wiltshire for restoration. This work took some time and was incomplete by the time of Doug Arnold’s death in 1992. As with many of the other aircraft in his possession at the time of his death, TE392 was shipped to the USA for storage.
Following its sale in 1995, the Spitfire’s restoration recommenced at Harry Stenger’s shop in Bartow, Florida. Its first post-restoration flight was made on December 24th, 1999, with Elliot Cross at the controls. TE392 now belonged to the Lone Star Flight Museum (LSFM), then in Galveston, Texas. The aircraft flew on the U.S. air show circuit for the next few years, but then Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast in September 2008, rendering the Aircraft unserviceable. Lone Star sent the fighter to Ezell Aviation for cleaning and preservation treatment following Ike. After nine years in dry storage, the museum sold the fighter in December 2017 via Platinum Fighter Sales, and she moved to her new home Australia.
Bishopp Aviation completely disassembled the aircraft and completed a 100 point restoration to the highest standard over a two-year period. With eventual ‘G’ registration in mind, all US hardware was removed with original British hardware reinstalled. The wings were rebuilt with new wing spars. TE392 was placed on the Australian civil registry as VH-RAF on December 2nd, 2019 and on January 13th 2020, undertook its first post-restoration flight with Richard Grace at the controls. TE392 has been painted to represent a Spitfire flown by the legendary Australian Ace, Frederick Anthony Own Gaze, DFC & Two Bars, who is credited with shooting down 13.5 enemy aircraft over Europe – including both a Messerschmitt Me 262 and Arado Ar 234 jets!
This iconic Spitfire with ‘continuing history’ is operated by Fighter Pilot, an organization which operates a small fleet of vintage warbirds out of Archerfield Airport in Brisbane, Australia.