Aviation News – Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 flies (updated 04/04/14)

The latest Spitfire restoration to emerge from the Aircraft Restoration Company’s (ARCo) hangar at IWM Duxford made its first post-restoration flight on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 when Mk.Ia N3200 (G-CFGJ) took to the skies.  Elliott Marsh writes for GAR.

Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 was manufactured for the RAF at Woolston, prior to assembly at Eastleigh in 1939.  The aircraft was delivered to the RAF at some point between 8 September 1939 and 20 January 1940, after which it was flown by Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Dalton Stephenson, Commanding Officer of 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford.  Stephenson was shot down in combat on 26 May 1940 whilst flying Spitfire N3200, during the Operation DYNAMO Dunkirk evacuation.

© Unknown

N3200 on the beach at Sangatte where it would remain buried for over 40 years
© Unknown

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

The Spitfire crash landed onto the beaches of Sangatte, near Dunkirk, and Stephenson was captured by the Germans – he survived the war after years of imprisonment, including a period spent at Colditz Castle, and post-war, he flew as King George VI’s personal pilot.  Sadly, he was killed on 8 November 1954 during a test flight of a US Air Force F-100A-10-NA Super Sabre, at Eglin Air Force base.  Stephenson lost control of the aircraft and was unable to recover or eject before the Super Sabre crashed.

Following its recovery in the mid-1980s, N3200 was registered to Mark One Partners LLC and from 2007 a lengthy restoration was carried out by Historic Flying Ltd, amongst other experienced parties including Airframe Assemblies Ltd on the Isle of Wight and Retro Track & Air (UK) Ltd.  Having garnered much experience in their precedent setting restoration of Mk.I P9374, ARCo/Historic Fying Ltd have kept a lot more of the work in house with N3200, such as the difficult blowing of the perspex canopy. The aircraft emerged in public for the first time in late March 2014 and first flew on the 26th, with ARCo boss John Romain at the controls.

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

It is particularly special that Duxford now has a veteran 19 Squadron Spitfire resident once again but this Spitfire is also the fourth airworthy Mk.I variant flying in the world, the others being serial numbers AR213, P9374 and X4650, the latter being based at Biggin Hill airport in Kent under the care and maintenance of Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, whilst the other three are all currently IWM Duxford-based machines.

The Spitfire has since been moved into hangar 3, where it is visible to the public on the ground for the first time post-restoration.  Lovely it looks, too – a Duxford veteran Spitfire, parked inside the vintage Belfast Truss hangars.  Wonderful!

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

© David Whitworth

Whilst the future of the aircraft as a public display aircraft is currently uncertain, we look forward to hopefully seeing this machine in the air over the Spring and Summer months.

With thanks to David Whitworth.

11 Comments

  1. What ever caused the bent elevator?

    Reply
  2. I flew with the 8th airforce Dec. 1943 to Feb 1944
    We often had spitfire fighter escort on some of our missions, it was a very welcome sight
    My hats off to those valiant pilots and wonderful spitfires.
    Les

    Reply
  3. During WWII there was No 22 Air school at Vereeniging Transvaal(South Africa) and a SAAF presence remained until the 1950′s. As a teenager,I saw the last Spitfire there ending up in a ditch after a brake failure.
    The restorations depicted here are a beautiful sight.

    Reply
  4. I first saw a spitfire as a little boy of 8 at Woodbrook aerodrome East London, South Africa, about 1943 or 4. We were allowed to look into the cockpit from a dais built over the wing. The aircraft then took off to I know not where. But to hear the Merlin still brings shivers down my spine

    Reply
  5. The derivative of the SPITFIRE , was termed the BALIOL . The latter had the same Rolls Royce
    Merlin engine . Perhaps , the airframe was also slightly modified to all metal .
    The faster one flew the aircraft , the easier it was to manoeuvre the hulk ! Conversely ,at slow
    speeds , flare-up and landing , she would be unforgiving and ruthless !
    The RAF lost a number of trainee pilots to the dreaded TORQUE-STALL , at Cranwell RAF Station in
    the U K . As a result , the Baliol was taken off the inventory and all flying training ceased
    on that aircraft . So did the R Cy A F in the early 1960`s .
    I had the good fortune to fly her to the end of her days and will never ever forget the sheer joy and thrill of handling her controls ………..like none other !!!

    Reply
  6. Simply gorgeous. More strength to your collective arms.

    Reply
  7. I’m now 81, flew meteor & javelin N/F s ’58 – 65, & still get a lump in my throat when I see & hear the old ” birds”

    Reply
  8. Fantastic, They bring back memories when I used to watch the weather Spitfires,Mk 19′s fly into Speke airport 1954 – 57,when I was an aircraft apprentice with Starways Ltd..Also listened on our DC3′s VHF radio’s when the the Spitfires flew in from RAF Woodvale.and then departed..As a young fellow,I wanted to fly the fabulas Spitfire. Alas it wasn’t to be.But I became a Gov’t Pilot in Canada, flying De Havilland Water-Bombers ,DHC 2 Mk .111, and DHC 3 for Manitoba,and Ontario .as well as a licensed Aircraft Engineer,. My Love for flying started with my love. of watching. Spitfires and other RAF aircraft ,and later flying in many while an ATC cadet with No 90 Speke Sqdn….My Flight Instructor at Speke was Cedric Flood ,later to become a Capt.with British Airways.and a good friend of mine.

    Reply
  9. Hi, I’m ex RAF & I am so pleased to see great aircraft of my generation being lovingly restored to their former glory. The Buccaneer, Lightning, Vulcan, Phantom etc are truly iconic & magnificent aircraft. Well done to everyone involved getting these great aircraft back into shape. I would dearly love to see them all fly again? I know Vulcan XH558 is flying, & that there is a Lightning flying in South Africa, believed to be the only one? Real shame! I also am aware there are a number of events where some of these aircraft do taxy runs, which I would love to see again. Brings back some wonderful memories.

    Reply
  10. Air Commodore Geoffrey Dalton Stephenson is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave plot in Alabama, alongside 78 RAF pilots who died whilst in training in the USA.

    I understand he was the leader of a small team from the Central Fighter Establishment on a mission to the USA to evaluate the latest fighters. Another F-100A crashed the following day and the type was immediately grounded for modification.
    Tony Broadhurst

    Reply
  11. They’ve clearly done an excellent job (again). The machine looks fabulous. I think former 19 Squadron guys will be delighted.
    Many thanks to Elliott for text and David for photographs.

    Reply

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  1. Aviation News – Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 flies (updated 04/04/14) | GAR | Aviation Blog - […] Aviation News – Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 flies (updated 04/04/14) | GAR […]
  2. Le Spitfire Mk I N3200 | Souvenirs de guerre - […] Cliquez ensuite ici. […]
  3. Spitfire Mk Ia flies again in Duxford » World Warbird News - […] Excellent pictures of this superb aircraft by David Whitworth are available here. […]
  4. Le Spitfire Mk I N3200 revole à Duxford » L'Echarpe Blanche - […] D’excellents photos de David Whitwhorth sont visibles ici. […]

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