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The Joy of Flight Testing

photos by Andy Hosking 

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In restoration project of a historic aircraft, no event matches the joy and satisfaction of the first post-restoration flight. This set of images documents the success of an epic Spitfire restoration which took full 30 years to complete. Our subject is the Spitfire Mk. Vb, serial no. BL628 YO-D. This aircraft made its first flight on 28 September 2007 in New Zealand.

BL628 was delivered from Castle Bromwich in January 1942. Allocated to No. 410 Squadron RCAF at Gravesend, BL628 became a personal aircraft of G.B. Murray who named it "Marion" after his girlfriend. It subsequently served briefly with No. 308 Squadron 31st Fighter Group USAAF in Aug 1942, then Nos. 167 and 610 Squadrons. Transferred to Royal Navy in 1943, the aircraft was converted to hooked Spitfire configuration by Cunliffe Owen Aircraft in June 1943. Allocated to No. 899 Squadron FAA for training, it served in Belfast, Ireland. Before the end of the war, it went to 719 and 794 Squadrons Royal Navy at St.Merryn, but the airframe was now at the very end of its service life and the aircraft was eventually struck off charge and abandoned on a farm in St. Merryn, Cromwell.

It was in the same place that the fuselage was found in derelict state some thirty years later. Acquired by Peter Croser & Michael Aitchison from Australia in 1977, it was initially painstainkingly rebuilt using components from various scrapyards in the UK. In the process, the aircraft went back to the UK in 1991 for a short period, then to Australia, where it received a new pair of wings built on Isle Of Wight, UK. More recently the aircraft was transferred to Avspecs Ltd in Auckland, New Zealand for final assembly. This is also the location where the pictures were taken. 

Click to enlarge images

Photos in this collection have been kindly provided by Andy Hosking, Avspecs, via Mark Davies.

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