Aero Legends’ Spitfire MJ444 Restoration – April Update

Spitfire's first official post restoration flight planned to take place on Saturday 11th May at Duxford after three-year restoration

Spitfire MJ444’s engine bay is quickly nearing completion. [Photo by Martin Overall]


In 2021 Aero Legends based at Headcorn in the UK announced that they had commissioned the rebuild of another Supermarine Spitfire in a two-seat configuration to join their stable, this being Mk.IX MJ444, a WWII combat veteran which served with several Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fighter squadrons in Europe, just like her sister ship NH341 Elizabeth. The Aircraft Restoration Co. (ARCo) at Duxford is again overseeing the restoration effort, with Airframe Assemblies being a major subcontractor, supplying key structural components at their world-renowned facility on the Isle of Wight. Aero Legends’ in-house engineering division, Vintage Aero, is also assisting with the rebuild of several key items.

Aero Legends has announced that, once the Civil Aviation Authority has signed off the paperwork, the Spitfire’s first official post restoration flight will take place at 10am on Saturday May 11th at Duxford.
A quick visit to Duxford on 14th February and MJ444’s Merlin 500 engine is now fitted. This variant of the Merlin has a single stage supercharger, resulting in increased performance and reliability (Photo Peter Hall)
Work has progressed rapidly since this photo of MJ444 was taken at Duxford on February 14th, and the aircraft is expected to fly within days of this article’s publication! [Photo Peter Hall]

The rebuild of the aircraft (affectionately known as MJ) continues to progress well and, following Vintage Aviation News‘ previous update in February, ARCo’s Martin ‘Mo’ Overall has sent us his latest report:

“The engine bay systems are almost complete. I have the pre-oil pipes to make and the throttle / CSU to final rig when the front throttle box has been fitted. After Easter, the oil and coolant systems will be filled. Work is progressing well on the cowling rails. The starboard side will soon be complete and allow the side cowl to be started. We are currently taking patterns for the carb air scoop from our T.9. They are different from the standard for the short engine but we have all the bits to make it work. The fillet fairings are also nearing completion with just the access doors in the lower ones to cut in. The front control column and aileron drum have been fitted. The aileron cables are in. The rear bell crank has been installed and the cables will be connected soon, along with the fitting of the rear column.

MJ444’s front cockpit showing the Spitfire’s distinctive control column. [Photo by Martin Overall]

“All the fuel hoses have been made and the backup pump has been installed and plumbed in.  We just have the brakes to set up and then the fuel tank firewall will be fitted, and in turn the tank. The new fuel tank gauge sender parts have finally arrived and this complicated unit will be built up and tested next week.

“The front canopy has been trial assembled and all trimmed in. The parts have been primed and it awaits final assembly.  The butterfly catch is still outstanding from Airframe Assemblies but I am assured it will be with us soon. It is not holding us up yet. The seats will be delivered by Steve on Tuesday. The heavy starter cables have been run forward to the engine bay and the wiring will soon be complete and ready for the electrical items to be tested.

The rear face of MJ444’s front cockpit instrument panel. [Photo by Martin Overall]

“The remaining systems were tested in the hangar before we wheeled MJ outside to the tie-down for the first engine runs. We started with the tests on April 20th. The engine had already run for four hours on the test stand so these runs are to check for leaks and for the correct operation of the systems. We also made sure the engine is making the correct power with reference to RPMs and boost pressures.”

In honor of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Aero Legends is proud to announce an exclusive opportunity to soar through history alongside the legendary C-47/DC-3 Dakota. To book your flight in this iconic aircraft visit www.aerolegends.co.uk.

 
Aero Legends Offering Spitfire Flights Alongside C47/DC3 During D-Day 80th Celebrations
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