Vintage Wings of Canada, home to a remarkable collection of warbirds in Gatineau, Quebec, is nearly finished restoring their second Supermarine Spitfire. The latest, a Mk IX, Royal Air Force serial No.TE294, will join their Mk XVI.
TE294 was delivered to the British Royal Air Force in June of 1945, but didn’t see combat. After the end of World War II, it served for a time in the South African Air Force, was damaged in a landing accident, and then, after being scavenged for spare parts, ended up in a Cape Town junkyard where it sat for 25 years. A collector named Mark de Vries bought it in 1980 and then took it with him to Vancouver, British Columbia, and it’s changed hands but remained in Canada ever since, finally ending up with Vintage Wings in 2009.
When completed, this magnificent machine will be one of fewer than 60 flyable Spitfires and/or Seafires — the naval variant — in the world. It will be painted in the markings of a 442 Squadron Spitfire flown by Flt. Lt. Arnold “Rosey” Roseland, one of the few Canadian fighter pilots to have fought both the Japanese and the Germans in WWII.
In a story published on Vintage Wings’ website, Dave O’Malley waxed rhapsodic about why “ a Spitfire should be free to dance the skies and tell the stories of those boys from so long ago.”
“Historical artifacts are often experienced only through interpretation and sight. See it, read the plaque, move on,” he wrote. “But a Supermarine Spitfire played its role in a very real world — one with smells, sounds, and textures as well as visual qualities. As such, it is better understood in its environment — the environment that its pilots lived, fought, and died in. With nearly all second world war Spitfire pilots now dead, soon only the aircraft themselves will remain to tell the story.”
In addition to the soon-to-be two Spitfires, Vintage Wings also operates a P-51, a P-40, and an FG-1D Corsair, alongside the rare Hawker Hurricane, Westland Lysander, and Fairey Swordfish. The Swordfish, a beast of a biplane torpedo bomber, will be ready to fly again once its Bristol Pegasus engine is rebuilt.
TE294, affectionately known as The Roseland Spitfire, will be in excellent company when it flies again in the very near future.
To learn more about this latest addition to Vintage Wings’ vibrant collection, read Dave O’Malley’s story here.