FXIVc in 1970, displayed in the "Hall Bordiaux".
A few years
later in Air&Space Museum.
In 1977, paint
is being removed.
The first bad surprise
....damaged lower fuselage beam.
Two types of
undercarriage legs belonging to two series of Mk XIV Spitfire
on a trolley, ready for a travel to Saffraanberg.
At the Technical
School of Saffraanberg.
The lower fuselage
booms are repaired.
in the trip back from Saffraanberg.
The wings before .....
The cell before....
a proper treatment.
was back on its landing gear in 1985.
Air Force is 50 years old and the Spitfire XIV restoration
September 1997, to celebrate the restoration of the Spitfire XIV,
we displayed it against the background of the "Cinquantenaire".
on this aircraft started in 1977.
fact we must say work on the aircrafts as this Spitfire is composed
of parts from three aircraft: SG 55, 46 and 37.
is mainly thanks to Stefaan Vancauteren and Eric Dessouroux, helped
by Christian Daulies, Serge Colin and Marc Lecocq that this task
as been done.
the 27th July 1942 at Vickers-Armstong under contract n°1877/C23.
It rolled out of the Aldermaston manufactory in 1944, receiving
the RAF serial MV246.
25 November 1944, it went through its first "Production Test".
Piloted by Philip Wigley the test duration was a brief 20 mn flight
as the pilot didn't detected any flaws. This "Production
Test" consisted in a climb at full power till 25000 feet
followed by a flight at the maximum speed to verify that the airplane
was able to reach it. Those two tests were followed by a dive
during which the maximum authorized speed was reached (around
500 m.p.h.) to assure a proper handling, in particular the ailerons.
Spitfire never served in an operational RAF Squadron and was stocked
at the n° 9 Maintenance Unit, RAF Cosford, the 29 November 1944.
to the Belgian Air Force the 26 August 1948, it arrived in Belgium
the 1st of September and received the serial SG-55. It went to
the 349e Squadron 1er Wing of Beauvechain and received the identification
operational live of the SG-55 was quite short: the 11th October
1948, Harry A. Saeys does a belly landing at Opveld following
a reduction gear failure.
flight of SG-55
published in the AELR bulletin)
that time Beauvechain was flourishing, under the command of Major
Colignon, with the 349 and 350th day fighter squadron.
10th night fighter squadron was based there as well, under the
authority of Major Fiske Van de Velde.
Spit XIV was replacing the Spit IX et XVI. The powerful Griffon
succeeded the enchanting Merlin. It was a time of basic installation:
at the intersection of the two landing strip was a hut with a
VHF/Gonio aerial serving as control tower. At the entry of the
runway in service, two pilots were acting as ACP, responsible
for the security of the landings. It was in those crude but enthusiastic
conditions that the "old" adopted the young pilots fresh
from the RAF (107/108e Promotions).
have been very lucky to be affected to the 349th Squadron, theoretically
led by the Major P. Deschamps. I integrated myself in the A flight:
Captain L. Divoy, pilots Godefroid, J. Huberi and H. Kreps. B
Flight was commanded by Captain Mathys and composed of the following
pilots: L. Lecomte, F. Goosse, 0. Leciercq, A. Rouck and J. Notte.
The administration was controlled by the Lts. Gust Francken and
Remacle first, by Lt. Techy after.
add to the picture: the dispersal was a wood hut surrounded by
steel planking and flanked by a small observation tower used to
watch the landings of the colleagues
in September 1948 that a new aircraft was delivered: the Spitfire
F XIVC MV246, having received the Belgian serial SG-55, was affected
to the 349th Squadron. It received the code GE-R and was equipped
with a teardrop canopy.
11 October 1948, it was affected to me for a flight mission as
Red 2 of the Lt Techy and joined by Lt. H. Kreps and Sgt. J. Hubert.
We were flying since 35 min in formation or "Finger 4"
and "vice versa" when suddenly, without any warning,
I saw myself being bypassed by the others.
was a strange sensation, with the instruments showing no visible
anomaly and with a Griffon engine still running. Instinctively,
I opened up the throttle to try to rejoin the others. I throttled
back directly: the airscrew was turning only thanks to the airflow
and my speed was dropping fast. It is in such conditions that
the instruction that we followed shows its value: the emergency
exercises repeated hundreds of times, the stories of the others
heard so many times... all that contributed to create the necessary
emotionless reflex whose speed and precision saved so many pilots.
1500ft, I cut the engine, trying to keep an airspeed of ± 130
Knts while looking for a suitable field, send a "mayday",
cut all electrical contact, the fuel pump, the "booster"
pump, the heating, the radio, opened the canopy, opened slightly
the side door (to prevent the canopy to close at impact), straightened
the harness..... the wind is the only noise I'm hearing now.
went very fast: there, at left, the field I selected for my emergency
landing. The altimeter is going down fast and I straightened my
straps a last time to be one with the Spitfire.
was confident because there was plenty of clear space and the
Spitfire had the reputation to do everything OK, even an emergency
landing. Altitude 600ft, flap down. I reduced the speed to 110
Knts and the position "nose down" gave me the possibility
to see in front of me. I pull slightly to kill the speed. Seeing
the wood airscrew disintegrating, I pushed down to bring the aircraft
on the ground. I knew that the long and streamlined nose of the
Spitfire XIV is a marvellous "ski" in case of problems.
In an horrendous noise the Spitfire skidded on the ground then,
suddenly, went on the left spraying a large amount of earth and
sand in the cockpit. My "bobsleigh" stopped after 35
meter and it was again silence.
getting out of the aircraft, I felt suddenly pain on top of my
head: I just received a piece of wood of the airscrew.
this slight wound, this event left me with a good souvenir and
a renewed confidence in the solidity and maniability of this marvellous
machine: the Spitfire.
total flight time of the airplane was 23 hours and 35 minutes,
and it never flew again. It was declared as a write-off by the
Arsenal U.R.(Evere) the 10 August 1951.
"Spitfire" for the Museum
1950, the Royal Museum of the Army, willing to have a Spitfire
to display, took contact with the Arsenal of Evere. This Arsenal
retrieved wings, a tail, an engine and an airscrew amongst the
write off components. The main problem was to find a fuselage
because at the time all the cells in good shape were retrieved
and repaired. The fuselage of the SG-55 was finally selected and
a Spitfire FXIVc went on display at the "Musée de l'Armée"
the 25 February 1951.
for a long time at the "Musée de l'Armée", it was moved
in the Air&Space section in1976 for the 30 years anniversary
of the Belgian Air Force.
first restoration work started in 1977.
1975 the restoration of the Spitfire FXIV was considered, or at
least it's repainting in the 350th Squadron colours.
in 1977 that work started. The paint removing of the structure
revealed heavy damage on the fuselage. Other things like two different
types of undercarriage legs were put on evidence as well.
damaged lower fuselage booms were repaired by the Technical School
of Saffraanberg in 1978.
to the museum, benevolent workers continued the restoration.
gave up, discouraged by the huge amount of work ahead or, not
is only towards the 80's that a small team lead by Stefaan Vancauteren
and Eric Dessouroux started a serious and continuous work of restoration.
in a few lines, some steps of a long and patient work:
1981: fuselage and wings have been stripped,
cleaned, repaired and painted.
1982, Oil tank has been removed, cockpit
has been stripped.
1983, the tail unit is completely refurbished
1984, cockpit is now ready, in zinc-chromate,
rudder has been fabric covered.
1985, cockpit is being put back together.
20 April 1985, The aircraft was back on its landing gear. There
was still a lot of work to do.
1987, installation of the Griffon 65
and the airscrew
1990, replacement of the Griffon by another
one in better condition and more complete.