By Staff Writers

Since the arrival of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX TE517 (c/n SH/CBAF.IX558) at the M.S.Ö. Air & Space Museum in Sivrihisar, Eskisehir province, Türkiye, the staff has been diligently working on applying the new paint scheme. As mentioned in our previous article, the aircraft is being restored into the colors of Necati Arcan, one of the nation’s most famous pilots, who went on to found the North American F-86 Sabre-equipped Flying Swans aerobatic team in 1955.

A photograph published by the M.S.Ö. Air & Space Museum reveals that the application of the square Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force) insignia began on June 13 and is likely complete by now.

The Turkish national markings being applied to Spitfire IX G-RYIX: the airplane is still registered in the UK. The square markings were in use between 1918 and 1972. [Photo M.S.Ö. Air & Space Museum.]

The newly acquired Spitfire was built in 1945 and initially delivered to 33 Maintenance Unit at RAF Lyneham before being allocated to 313 (Czech) Sqn at RAF Manston on 21 July as RY-A. With the European war having finished in April, the unit relocated back to Czechoslovakia and became Letecký Pluk (LP) 8. Spitfire TE517 had the RAF roundels overpainted with Czech markings and became the personal mount of the unit’s Officer Commanding: Sqn Ldr Otmar Kučera DFC .

Following Czech use (marked as KO-1) the Spitfire was shipped to Israel in 1949 for operation by the newly formed Israeli Defense Forces as IDF2046. In 1976, UK-based warbird pioneer Robs Lamplough found the dilapidated – but substantially complete – remains of TE517 on a kibbutz at Gaaton, where it was being used as a climbing frame by local children. Following its repatriation to the UK in 1977, TE517 went through various owners – including Charles Church, who used the wing from the Spitfire in the creation of his Spitfire Tr.9 PT462. The partly-restored aircraft was later sold to US collector Kermit Weeks in 1992 and following years of storage at Booker Air Park in the UK it was sold to Paul Andrews in 2009. Peter Monk took over ownership in 2016 and he, in turn, sold it to 517 Ltd in 2021 and finally completed the protracted restoration to airworthy condition – more than 45 years after it was recovered from Israel.

Two of the Mk.I Spitfire of the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri with Hawker Hurricanes beyond. [Photo M.S.Ö. Air and Space Museum.]

The Turkish Air Force wanted Spitfires to strengthen their air arm just prior to the Second World War. Türkiye ordered 15 Spitfire Mk.Ia aircraft. As Britain decided that it needed the airplanes more than its overseas customers due to impending war, the contract was canceled after the delivery of two aircraft. (Another Spitfire also came via a very long route from England. In 1939, Poland was interested in purchasing Spitfires, and one Spitfire was shipped to Poland. In the meantime, Germany invaded Poland, so the ship was diverted to Romania. However, Romania banned the transit of any arms to Poland. As a result, this Spitfire was also sent to Turkey.)

All three Spitfires were allocated to 42nd Fighter Command, the 8th Fighter Battalion, 4th Air Regiment at Çorlu, but by late 1940, all three were grounded due to lack of spares. While remaining neutral until 1945, Turkey played both Axis and Allied powers off to ensure their air arm was remarkably well equipped with some of the best types the two sides had; such as Focke Wulf Fw 190, and later  model Spitfires, including the Mk.V, IX and XIX.

More details about the Turkish Spitfire can be found here:

As previously reported by Vintage Aviation News was ferried to its new home on May 27, 2024. Two days later, ownership officially transferred from 517 Ltd. to Makinsan Aviation UK Ltd., a London-based company. The aircraft is still registered in the UK.