Friday, August 21, 2015

The Friday Flyby - August 2015

Spitfire AB910, built in 1941, she is painted in the colors of the Polish 303 Squadron; the Donald Duck symbol is the personal logo of Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach.
(Photo by Adrian Pingstone - Source)
It struck me on Thursday that it had been a while since I had offered up a Friday Flyby, the last one was back in April according to my archivist.

Okay, my archivist, she's a cat. But she works cheap and has a pleasant disposition...

Anyhoo, it's been a while. While thinking about what to base the Flyby on, I saw a picture of a Spitfire. The Spit is my favorite aircraft, bar none. For it's aesthetics and it's role in history. While the Spitfire does get most of the glory, we shouldn't forget the Hurricane. Not as glamorous but that bird downed a lot of Jerry aircraft in its time. I have grown to love this bird as well. Without further ado...

Here's a little bit of what I like to call "A Few of My Favorite Things"

Hurricane IIC at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

There are approximately 55 Spitfires and a few Seafires in airworthy condition worldwide, although many air museums have examples on static display, for example, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has paired a static Spitfire with a static Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Stuka dive bomber.

The oldest surviving Spitfire is a Mark 1, serial number K9942; it is preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in Shropshire. This aircraft was the 155th built and first flew in April 1939. It flew operationally with No. 72 Squadron RAF until June 1940, when it was damaged in a wheels-up landing. After repair, it was used for training until August 1944, when it became one of several Battle of Britain aircraft veterans that were allocated to the Air Historical Branch for future museum preservation.

What may be the most originally restored Spitfire in the world is maintained in airworthy condition at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. Over a six-year period in the 1990s, this aircraft was slowly restored by Personal Plane Services in England using almost 90% of its original aircraft skins. Owner Kermit Weeks insisted that the aircraft be restored to original condition as closely as possible. Machine guns, cannon, gun sight and original working radios are all installed.

Two MK 1 Supermarine Spitfires originally restored remain in a flying condition at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, England. Both restored by American billionaire Thomas Kaplan, one has been donated to the Imperial War Museum and the second was auctioned in July 2015 at Christie's, London. Being only one of four flying MK 1 Spitfires in the world, the aircraft fetched a record £3.1 million at auction on 9 July, beating the previous record for a Spitfire of £1.7 million set in 2009. W
As for the Hurricane...
Of more than 14,583 Hurricanes that were built, only 12 (including three Sea Hurricanes) survive in airworthy condition worldwide, although other non-flying examples survive in various air museums. (List of surviving Hurricanes.) W
Now as an American, not to mention a retired Air Force MSgt, I am often chastised by my fellow Yanks as to my placing of the Spitfire higher in my affections than the next aircraft on my list, the P-51 Mustang. To be sure, the Mustang is an awesome aircraft, the sound of that engine sends a shiver up my spine every time I hear it. 'Tis a lovely bird indeed.

There are a number of Mustangs still around, here's a list. That list has airworthy and static examples of this magnificent warbird. (Over 200 I believe.)

A beautiful aircraft, deadly with long legs. Berlin and back, broke the Luftwaffe's back.

What's that? You want to hear that engine sound? Well, sure, why not?

Want to know something, listen to the engine sound in this next video, yup Spitfires and Mustangs were cousins of a sort.

Both aircraft were powered by variants of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. (The P-51D used a Packard V-1650 which was a version of the Merlin built under license in the U.S.) As were a number of other WWII aircraft, to include the mighty Lancaster and another favorite of mine, the Mosquito.

"Avro Lancaster B I PA474" by Kogo - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons (Source)

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

Now the the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (or Mossie as her crews dubbed her) was fast and could reach high altitudes in her photo-reconnaissance versions. The Jerries couldn't catch a high flying photo-recon Mossie. She was also called "The Wooden Wonder" being built nearly entirely of wood (except for the engines and such, of course).

Another of the Sarge's favorites.

"De Havilland Mosquito 11" by Rudolph89 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons (Source)

Sadly there aren't that many Mossies left.
There are approximately 30 non-flying Mosquitos around the world with two airworthy examples. The largest collection of Mosquitos is at the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre in the United Kingdom, which owns three aircraft, including the first prototype, W4050, possibly the only initial prototype of a Second World War aircraft design still in existence in the 21st century. W
Here's one of the still flying ones...

I suppose I should have mentioned that the Hurricane was also powered by a Merlin engine.


Like he's just come back from beating up the Huns over Dunkirk!

Altogether now!

Mossies and Lancs and Spits and Hurricanes! Oh My!

Of course, I have other favorites than these. I guess you could say, "These are my favorite aircraft which are powered by Merlin engine variants." Not a bad criteria to go by is it?

Next time I'll take a look at some of my Axis favorites, or maybe World War I favorites, or Naval Air favorites, or, or, you just might get a post on my favorite modern birds.

We'll see.

For now I'll leave you with this...

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong...

Spitfire Mk IX PL344, Spitfire Mk IIa P7350, Hurricane Mk I R4118, Bf 109 G-4 (D-FWME). Photo by tataquax (Source)
Sarge Note: This guy has a lot of great aviation photos, check him out on Flickr.


  1. I do miss the Friday Flyby!

    We only diverge on one of your faves. For the first 40 years of my life, Bombers were targets. Other than that, I'm in total agreements.

    Just to add to the collection.

    1. There is nothing like the sound of military piston engines warming up.

      Love that rumble.

  2. A great selection of photos and video of some outstanding aircraft. Thanks for putting that up to make my day start out right.

    1. It was past due really.

      Love that Merlin sound!

  3. Love the sounds of prop engines. Mah dad flew mosquito's for the RCAF, out of Halifax, maritime patrol. Had pictures from the right seat, of subs off the coast, both types. One with splashes right beside them.

    1. That is awesome James. Do you still have those pictures?

  4. Those sounds ... you just made my morning!

  5. The gargling, throaty sound - I love it. Such wonderful power and design efficiency. Something to be cherished in the experience.
    I am drawn to the scream of the taxiing Phantom too. And if you want an irritating, joyless noise to experience ONCE. Listen to the taxiing tweet. The F4 is not too bad as a noise maker in the air as well.

    1. I am very familiar with the sound of the mighty Phantom, its two powerful GE J79 converting JP4 into smoke. Lot's of smoke.

      Stood and watched many a time as Phantoms would taxi out to do their thing. The view from the flightline can't be beat. As a QA guy we'd watch them taxi into the arming area, then back out.

      Good times.

    2. That was one of the cool things about living at Selfridge during the Cold War. The F4s were the northern alert force and practiced constantly and you could stand on the flight line (about 20 feet back) or stand right there on the perimeter road at either end of the runway and have them or A7s or C130's fly overhead practically within touching distance. Same thing on the golf course where I was convinced an unfortunate chip could nail one in midair as they made their approach.

    3. On the flight line that was one of the awesome things, having F-4s and other aircraft overhead all the time. The SR-71 on Okinawa was particularly neat.

  6. And the Flyby returns. The day is greatly improved with pictures and stories of planes!! And as usual, I learned
    something new. I had no idea that the Mosquito was built of wood. Great blog, thanks!

  7. I know you're an Air Force guy, but I can't believe you left out the Corsair... sigh...

    1. Okay, this is like, part one. Corsair was not powered by a Merlin engine.

      Bottom line, be patient Cajun.

      We'll get there...

    2. LOL, Patience my ass... :-D

  8. All beautiful birds. And that Hurricane at Udvar-Hazy is high on my list of aircraft to sneak out and fly if I ever find that they've left one of the big doors open. I love that plane and I cry when I think that the Canadian Government was selling surplus Hurricanes for $50.00 in the 1960s and farmers were buying them just for the engines and the wireas and piping then burning the airframes.

    I also stand in line with Old NFO. BRING THE CORSAIRS!!!

    1. Remember I'm available for look-out duty.

      Sigh, you Corsair guys are a persistent lot.

      Of course, it is a beautiful aircraft.

      But like I told Cajun, patience, we'll get there.

  9. We had a couple of farmers hereabouts who flew Mustangs in the war. Always intended to find a way to pry some recollections out of them but it's too late now. You could always tell the combat farmers from the non-combat farmers. Same overalls, boots and seed cap yet something distinctly different.

    1. There's an air about a fighter pilot.

      Combat farmer. Heh. I like it.

    2. Saying goes that you can always tell a fighter pilot. You just can't tell him much,

  10. I was also thinking as I watched the Hurricane buzz the spectators on the hill of the awful Sea Vixen crash at Farnborough in 1952, and how none of those on the hill likely remembered Avons and flaming jet fuel falling from the sky. Now a Hunter has crashed on the A27 near Shoreham.

    1. Yeah, one false move and things go bad very quickly!

      I saw that video of the Hunter crashing at an airshow. The media drives me nuts, re: the pilot reportedly failed to pull out. Reportedly, jeebers you can see that's exactly what happened.

      There's a reason why many pilots (including Lex) don't care for air shows.


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