RR232 - CITY OF EXETER
RR232 was built in Castle Bromwich by Vickers Armstrong and delivered to the RAF in October 1944 as an 'HF.IX' high altitude fighter where it was allocated to an anti-aircraft co-operation Squadron. It was then sold to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1948 with designation '5632' and was last flown there by Lt. Ron Beamish of 2 Sqdn. It was then stored derelict at Salt River after being 'ground looped' in 1954. In 1976 it was bought by Australian collector Peter Sledge and restored to static display standard.
Spitfire RR232 finally made it back to Britain in 1986 when purchased by Charles Church, who in turn sold the airframe to Jim Pearce of Sussex Spraying Services. But it was not until 2001 that current owner Martin Phillips bought the aircraft and began in earnest a full restoration to airworthy condition that would take nearly 13 years, having been challenged by friends on his 40th birthday to produce a Spitfire from the single rivet with which they presented him!
With parts having been sourced from myriad locations around the world, this Spitfire is a story in itself of an epic restoration project that saw parts contributed, sold and scavenged from across the globe, and one man's dogged determination to return an iconic fighter to the skies above Britain. Some parts were found very close to home however; one of the wings for example being salvaged from a hedge outside a pub near Exeter. With a fully rebuilt Merlin engine installed and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) happy that all had been done to the highest standards, in December 2012 Spitfire RR232 took to the skies again, becoming the last aircraft to be assembled at Filton Aerodrome (home of Concorde) before its closure for redevelopment.
She is now known as the 'City of Exeter' in honour of a presentation Spitfire donated to the war effort as a result of local fundraising. That aircraft was presented to the Royal Air Force at RAF Westhampnett almost 75 years to the day before RR232 arrived at its present operating base where she flies off the very same grass runways, now known as Goodwood Aerodrome. RR232 is operated by Boultbee Flight Academy in association with our friends at Tool Care Hire in Exeter, Devon
Max take-off weight:
31 ft 5 in (9.58m)
36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
12 ft 8 in (3.86m)
Rolls-Royce Merlin 70
450miles (724 km)
10,000ft (Permit Restriction)
BACKGROUND OF THE SPITFIRE
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries before, during and after World War II. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war.
The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell. Mitchell pushed the Spitfire's distinctive elliptical wing (designed by B. Shenstone) to have the thinnest possible cross-section, helping give the aircraft a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith took over as chief designer, overseeing the development of the Spitfire through its multitude of variants.