The Merlins Over Malta Spitfire and Hurricane

The Spitfire and Hurricane that the Merlins Over Malta project used belong to the Historic aircraft Collection and are based at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.  The support aircraft, a Cessna T303 Crusader (G-ROCH) belonged to Roche Bentley.
     
 

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The Merlins Over Malta Spitfire and Hurricane

 
 

Bryan Simpson

 

The Fighters

The Spitfire
     
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Damien Burke / www.handmadebymachine.com

 

Spitfire Vb BM597 (G-MKVB) was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered on 26th April 1942. It served with 315 and 317 (Polish) Squadrons RAF at Woodvale before sustaining damage whilst landing on 13th February 1943. It was repaired, but is thought to have seen no further action. After the war BM597 was assigned to several 'gate guardian' postings finishing up at RAF Church Fenton. Acquired by Historic aircraft Collection in 1993, it was restored to original specification at Audley End and first flew in 1997.It usually flies in the colours of 317 Squadron, but for the duration of the Merlins Over Malta project it will wear a unique Malta scheme that has not been seen on a Spitfire since the original aircraft were transported out to Malta during the war.
     
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Spitfire BM597 is now U2

 
  Nick Blacow  

For the duration of the project BM597 will depict a Spitfire V wearing the codes U-2 that was to join 603 Squadron. When the aircraft were put aboard the USS Wasp they were wearing standard camouflage schemes but on the deck of an aircraft carrier sailing through the Mediterranean these camouflage patterns offered no protection. The solution was to paint the top surfaces of the aircraft blue. Paint was taken from the stores and applied to the aircraft. There is no definitive colour match because paint was mixed and watered down to ensure there was enough to go around.
     
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The Hurricane

Hurricane XII "Z5140" (G-HURI) was built in 1942 by the Canadian Car Foundry as part of their sixth production batch and it joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943. It is believed to have served with 123 Squadron at Debert before going to 127 and 129 Squadrons at Dartmouth and onto 1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville.
     
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The Merlins Over Malta Hurricane

 
 

Philip Makanna/Ghosts

 

Struck of charge from the RCAF in 1947 it was purchased by a syndicate in Saskatchewan. It was restored for Stephen Grey's Fighter Collection by Paul Mercer in 1985 and made its first post-restoration flight in 1989. Historic aircraft Collection acquired the Hurricane in 2002.
     
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Nick Blacow

 

After undergoing an 18 month extensive programme of repairs and maintenance the Hurricane has reappeared in an entirely new paint scheme for 2004. G-HURI now flies as 'Z5140' with the code letters HA-C and is in a paint scheme that was worn by a Gloster-built Hurricane IIB, flown with 126 Squadron during the siege of Malta. Z5140 arrived at Malta on June 6th, 1941 during Operation Rocket, having flown off HMS Ark Royal. Whilst it would be expected that the aircraft would be in a tropical paint finish, the Malta squadrons were desperate to receive any aircraft regardless of colour and the first ones were kept in the familiar "Battle of Britain" green and brown scheme.

For further information on these two aircraft or to book them for an Air Show or other event, please visit the Historic Aircraft Collection website

The "Bomber"
   
 

The Bomber and Fighters at Cannes on the return journey

 

Roche Bentley's Cessna T303 Crusader affectionately became known as the "Bomber" for the duration of the Malta trip.  G-ROCH lives at Cambridge Airport.  Roche flew the support aircraft with Frank Marson as co-pilot.  The aircraft was used to carry spares for the Spitfire and Hurricane and to carry either Howard or Clive when they were not flying the Hurricane.  We would like to thank Dedicated Micros for sponsoring G-ROCH's fuel for the trip.
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  G-ROCH at Luqa   Pilot & Owner - Roche Bentley  
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  Co-pilot - Frank Marson   G-ROCH looking after the Hurricane  

 

 

 

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