RAF s/n PL965 Reg: G-MKXI // £3,750,000 (+VAT if applicable)
RAF s/n PL965 Reg: G-MKXI
£3,750,000 (+VAT if applicable)
1944 Vickers Supermarine Spitfire PR XI
- An original Airframe with continuing history
- 790.1 Hrs. TTSN
- Rolls Royce Merlin 70 – Serial No. 70/182411
- PL965’s original wartime engine
- 5.0 Hrs. SMOH by Retro Track & Air, UK, 2022
- Fitted with electric pre-oil pump and twin spin-on filters
- Dowty-Rotol R12/4F5/4
- 5.0 Hrs. SMOH by Skycraft, UK, 2022
- 1 x BeckerVHF COM
- 1 x Becker XPDR
- PRU Blue camouflage “R” for Robert
- 9/10 – original wartime markings
- Original wartime 9/10
- North Weald, UK
- In Annual
- “As Is Where Is”
- Permit to Fly
- July 2022
- First post-restoration flight (1992) by Mark Hanna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARUMeli165o
- Peter Teichman displaying PL965 at Old Warden (2012) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1n-E1pjn-Q
Supermarine Spitfire P.R. XI serial number PL965 left the Aldemaston factory in mid 1944. Built as a Mk XI photo reconnaissance aircraft, she was designed to operate at high altitudes (over 30,000 ft.) as well as at high speeds of over 400 MPH, and as such was the fastest of all the Merlin powered Spitfires. She was allocated to No. 9 MU Cosford on 1st October 1944 and then ferried to No. 34 Wing and then allocated to 16 Squadron, which at the time was a forward squadron based at Melsbroek Airfield near Brussels in Belgium as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. She proudly wore the identifying code “R” for Robert.
16 Squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Tony Davis DFC and his Spitfires were called upon to provide photographs of enemy territory for bomb damage assessment, to monitor airfields harboring jet and rocket propelled aircraft and to build up the vital photographic mosaic maps which were used by the bomber groups for “pinpoint” bombing accuracy. The PRU blue painted Spitfires operated at low and high altitudes, always flying alone and unarmed.
Over the next year or so, PL965 flew in excess of 40 operational missions over Germany, France and Holland. Squadron and pilot records include such destinations as Osnabruck, Bremen, Dortmund, Hanover, Hamburg, Kiel, and Berlin itself. Several distinguished pilots were entrusted with her safety on these long and dangerous sorties. Pilots such as Norman Godfrey DFC and Croix de Guerre, Willy Willshaw DFC, Group Captain Richard Bowen DFC, to name but a few.
With such missions being conducted at both high and low altitudes, she encountered anti-aircraft fire and was often intercepted and attacked by German fighters, including the new jet powered Me 262, one of the few aircraft that had the speed to catch her.
Flt. Lt. Gordon Bellerby DFC recalls one such encounter on 21 March 1945:
“It was a mapping sortie North of Hanover. Four runs at 26,000 feet. No recollection of the target, but I certainly recall the Fw 190 and the four (4) Me 262’s! The 190 came up just as I finished my runs. I went “through the gate” and climbed away to 30,000 feet and left the area rapidly. The 262’s scared the hell out of me – after all, four are a bit much! But somehow they missed seeing me. They crossed beneath my tail at right angles and I kept flying on going flat out for home.”
Flt. Lt. J. M. Tommy Thompson RCAF recalls one such encounter on 5 April 1945:
“At 30,000 feet, I was returning from Breman area to Melsbroek, Belgium and off my starboard wing saw two Me 262s headed towards me. We were briefed on their performance, speed etc and were told we could not outrun them. Our best method was to attack! With my heart in my mouth I turned into them for the semblance of an attack! They broke and dived. I had the advantage and got within 300-400 feet on one’s tail for a minute. I broke off when I saw good cloud cover near 20,000 feet. I know I could have shot him down if I had guns!”
Detailed Records are available for each and every operational mission PL965 flew.
At the end of hostilities, PL965 returned to the UK for a short time but was then flown to Buckeburg near Minden in Germany and served with 2nd TAF Communications Wing. Her story continues in Europe, as she was “retired” and sold for the princely sum of £25.0s.0d to the Royal Netherlands Air Force and on the 10th July 1947 flown to Deelen in Holland, where she was used as a ground technical instruction aircraft.
As one of the lucky and ultra-rare wartime survivors, by 1960 she became an exhibit at the Dutch War Museum at Overloon. Here she remained for 27 years, eventually returning to the UK in 1987 for restoration to airworthy status in the hands of the late Nick Grace. Prior to his passing, Nick had arranged for the rebuild to be carried out at Rochester by MAPS Ltd. Upon inspection, the fuselage was found to be in very good condition. New wing spars were fitted and the control surfaces were restored. The original propeller hub was found to be in airworthy condition with new blades being fitted. Over the next five (5) years PL965 was lovingly and painstakingly restored to airworthiness by this highly experienced and dedicated team. Returning to the skies in December 1992, PL965 was test-flown by the late great Mark Hanna. Since then, PL965 has been a well-loved participant on the air show circuit both in the UK and USA from where she had returned in the summer of 2004.
In September 2004, PL965 joined the Hangar 11 Collection, North Weald in Essex. In 2009-10, a major overhaul was undertaken which included the removal of the Packard Merlin engine and the re-installation of PL965’s original wartime Merlin 70 – s/n 70/182411. This making PL965 one of only two known Spitfires flying with their original wartime engines.
This extremely rare and original Spitfire has been progressively up-graded and restored to her wartime configuration with the inclusion of original Type F.24 & F.52 cameras, other period equipment including her original wartime seat with which she flew ALL her missions, with the head armor being signed by one of her wartime Pilots Norman Godfrey DFC, CDG.
She has been a welcome sight at air displays and special events across Europe and has also taken part in a number of movies, television programs and featured in the 1996 Osprey book titled Spitfire in Blue. The book records in detail, PL965’s War time Operations, Pilots memoirs, Royal Netherlands Air Force history, Dutch War Museum history and eventual return to the UK and restoration.
Sales may be subject to local Sales Tax / V.A.T. / G.S.T.
Aircraft maybe subject to prior sale, lease, and/or removal from the market without prior notice.
Specifications subject to verification upon inspection.
Photography By: Darren Harbar Photography
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