Supermarine Spitfire MH603 – Restoration Update September 2021

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MH603 undergoing the masking process for repainting prior to its first flight in Australia. (image by Bennii Walters)
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Our good friend John Parker from WarbirdsOnline in Australia recently provided an update from Vintage Fighter Restorations (VFR) in Scone, New South Wales regarding progress on the restoration of Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MH603. We have covered several of Parker’s previous reports HERE, which you can check out for the aircraft’s history and earlier restoration updates. We will let John’s words pick up the latest news as follows…

Supermarine Spitfire F Mk.IX MH603 at Pay’s Air Service and Vintage Fighter Restorations (VFR) in Scone, New South Wales, Australia is undergoing a refresh of her paintwork. Following on from our report regarding MH603’s first engine runs in our news article of June 2021, we can now report on her progress towards her first flight in over 7 decades. The Spitfire is edging ever closer, with virtually all of the detail systems testing now completed. Most of what remains is the cosmetically related, and involves a refresh of her paint scheme.

Recently MH603 moved from the restoration hangar at Vintage Fighter Restorations (VFR) to the nearby paint shop at Pay’s Air Service for a comprehensive refresh of her surface coatings. The level of accuracy required for such a task is not to be hurried, and the restoration team has completed a mountain of research to ensure that the completed aircraft not only looks good, but is period correct. As this will be the actual scheme that the fighter carried in January 1944, it must be historically precise as well. In addition, as all of the Spitfire’s cowlings and access panels have now had their final fitting and adjustments, they are being completely repainted in keeping with the rest of the airframe.

Whilst the Spitfire had already been painted when it was structurally completed, the detail of the finish was not fully applied, including various stencils etc. Moreover the restoration itself caused some inevitable wear and tear on the the paint finish, so it was always envisaged that this comprehensive paint scheme update would take place just prior to the fighter’s first flight.

Spitfire MH603 Chin Cowlings

Supermarine Spitfire MH603 chin cowling in the process of painting   
MH603’s chin cowling during the primer-painting process. (image by Bennii Walters)

Bennii Walters is the fellow responsible for carrying out the refinishing in the paint shop at Pay’s Air Service although, over the years, work on the internal paint for the wings and exterior surfaces has also received attention from Rod Curmi and Mal Pittman. The finish so far is a real credit to the workmanship of this team.

Spitfire MH603 Engine Cowlings

Bennii is currently retouching all of the external camouflage on the aircraft in the original No.331 (Norwegian) Squadron scheme the aircraft wore in WWII, coded as ‘FN B’.  Every effort is being made to complete this scheme as accurately as possible with correct placement and color matching of the serials, rondels, and stencil markings.

Spitfire MH603 Side Cowlings

The above selection of images, taken during the refinishing process, will be updated once the aircraft leaves the paint shop in the near future. At that point, Supermarine Spitfire F Mk. IX MH603 will be ready for her first flight since 1955, and we will be there to cover it!

We extend our thanks to Ross Pay and the team at Pay’s Air Service and Vintage Fighter Restorations for their help and assistance with this report. We wish to also thank Bennii Walters of Pay’s Air Service for supplying the images of Spitfire MH603, because of our limited ability to travel to Scone NSW  due to the COVID-19 lockdown

We will continue following these remarkable efforts and bring additional news as soon as we can. Many thanks indeed to our friend John Parker at WarbirdsOnline for this article.


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