The Making of the film:
The survivors - other airworthy examples
Spitfire Mk.IXe MJ730
Engine: Merlin 66
Sqdn-code: 417 - , 154 - HT-W, 32 - , 249 - , 105 - 66
The aircraft was built at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham under construction No CBAF 7243 in 1943, the aircrafts first flight was on the 10th December 1943 and was test flown by Alex Henshaw. The aircraft was subsequently crated and shipped to Casablanca and allocated to the RCAF in early 1944 and subsequently assigned to 417 squadron. Then it was allotted back to the RAF on the 9th May 1944 where it served with No154 squadron in Corsica and coded HT-W during this time it flew 95 bomber escort missions. It was then transferred to 32 squadron at Kolomaki, Greece on 9th October 1944 where it was flown by Squadron Leader George Sylvester DFC. Further service in Yugoslavia during 1945 saw it serving with 249 squadron before being transferred to RAF Brindisi in Italy where it was stored.
Post war saw many Air forces wanting to rebuild and the Spitfire was the aircraft of choice and so MJ730 was delivered to the Italian Air Force as MM4094 on 27th June 1946. Transferred from RAF store it underwent a major overhaul at Aeronautica Machhi at Varese before being accepted by the Italian Air Force at Centocelle Airport on the outskirts of Rome.
In 1951, MJ730 was among a batch of Spitfires sold by the Italian government to Israel. The Israeli Air Force assigned the number 20-66 to the aircraft and it served in an Operational Training Unit at the Ramat David Airfield. The aircraft was to serve with 105 squadron.
It was finally decommissioned in June 1956, when most of Israel's other Spitfires were sold to Burma. MJ730 was saved to provide young Israeli children with a subtle desire to become fighter pilots. It was moved to a playground at a kibbutz in Kabri, near the border of Lebanon.
It was here that the aircraft was found in a dilapidated condition during the 1970's by Robs Lamplough and transported back to England in 1978. The initial restoration work was begun by Guy Black in the south of England. But in August 1986, the project was sold to Fred Smith, founder and President of Federal Express with the registration G=FEDX reserved but not taken up. The work was completed in November 1988 and it was registered G-BLAS, but immediately offered for sale. It was purchased by David Pennell, an electronics manufacturer in Birmingham, England. oN 22nd August 1989 the aircraft was registered G-HFIX. The aircraft spent the next ten years in the Midlands area performing at many charity events and memorial functions.
In 1998, the Fighter Factory learned about the possible availability of this aircraft while in New Zealand searching for assorted Curtiss P-40 parts. An inspection in England was arranged and a contract was signed at the May Duxford airshow. An engine problem developed prior to delivery, which necessitated an overhaul of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine in Great Britain. The aircraft finally arrived at the Fighter Factory facilities in Virginia during the beginning of 2000. Registered as N730MJ the aircraft remains airworthy.
Current location Jerry Yagin, Fighter Factory, Suffolk, Virginia - airworthy.