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Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1 - K4492

This aircraft was built at Eastleigh as one of the first production batch of 174 Mark 1aircraft.  On April 24 1939, it was allotted to 72 Squadron who were re-equipping from Gladiators to Spitfires at Church Fenton in Yorkshire.  It was allocated to 'A' Flight with aircraft letter 'D'.  On October 28 of the same year, 'A' and 'B' Flights moved to Drem before moving to Acklington in March 1940.  This was a bad move for the squadron, as Acklington was found unfit to operate Spitfires and they had to revert to flying the aged Gloster Gladiator.  On June 1 1940, a move to Gravesend gave the squadron back its Spitfires, including K9942. 

The aircraft was damaged on the 5th when it returned from a patrol over Dungeness and was forced to land wheels up.  It was classified Cat B damage (beyond repair on site) and was sent to 4 MU where it was repaired by General Aircraft.  The accident ended the operational career of K9942, as it was transferred to various maintenance units before being used by 57 OTU at Hawarden.  Once again, the aircraft suffered a heavy landing being categorised 'B' and returning to 33MU at Lyneham.  Once again, it travelled to various MU's before being passed to 52MU at Cardiff for 'museum purposes' where it was stored alongside other historical aircraft.  K9942 was briefly exhibited in Bicester in 72 Squadron colours until it was moved to the RAF Museum at Hendon as the oldest extant Spitfire Mk I in November 1971, although it had quite clearly been up-dated over the years to a Mk V. 
It remained on show at Hendon until it was transported to Rochester and MAPS on May 19 1998 for restoration.  This took until October 2000 when the aircraft was handed back to the RAF Museum to be displayed as the only Mk I in the world.  MAPSL had the task of ‘reverse engineering’ the aircraft from a Mk V to a pre-war Mk I.


During her operational life (which lasted from October 21 1939 to June 5 1940), K9942 was flown by the following pilots in 72 Squadron.

  • Flt Lt F M (Hiram) Smith - Destroyed one enemy aircraft.

  • FO O (Ossie) St J Pigg - Destroyed one enemy aircraft.

  • FO J B Nicolson (awarded Victoria Cross on 16.08.1940) - Destroyed one enemy aircraft. K9942 was flown on 14 operational sorties by Nicolson.

  • FO J W Villa - Destroyed 11+2 enemy aircraft.

  • PO N C H Robson - Destroyed 1+2 enemy aircraft.

  • PO T D C Winter - Destroyed two enemy aircraft.

  • Sgt R C J Staples.

  • PO B Douthwaite - Destroyed one enemy aircraft.

  • PO E J Wilcox - Destroyed half enemy aircraft.

  • Sqd Ldr R B Lees .

  • PO R Elliott - Destroyed four enemy aircraft.

  • Sgt FR F Hamlyn - Destroyed eight enemy aircraft, five in one day.


During this period, K9942 was involved in both the Battle of Dunkirk and the early stages of the Battle of Britain.  K9942 flew just over 50 operational sorties during which she crashed landed at Gravesend and sustained other battle damage.  When decommissioned in May 1944, K9942 had an airframe time of 1070.45 hours.

 The Rolls-Royce Merlin III after full rebuild. The very early type exhaust stubs can be seen.                              

It is not just the inside that gets a full restoration.  Here is an unusual shot of  the tail wheel assembly.

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