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#5290 RAF BBMF - Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXe (MK356 / QJ-3)

20180714-100 RAF BBMF - Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXe (MK356 QJ-3) RAF Fairford UK.jpg #5291 RAF BBMF - Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXe (MK356 / QJ-3)Thumbnails#5289 RAF BBMF - Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XIX (PS915)

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXe (MK356 / QJ-3) from the RAF BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) at the RIAT 2018, RAF Fairford (United Kingdom)

Produced in greater numbers than any other British combat aircraft before or since the War, 20.341 Spitfires were built in 22 different variants (excluding the navalised Seafire) and the aircraft remained in production for 12 years. The prototype's maiden flight took place on 5th March 1936 and Mk1 Spitfires entered RAF service (with No 19 Squadron) in August 1938. MK356 was constructed at Castle Bromwich and delivered to 443 "Hornet" Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in March 1944, performing its first operational mission on April 14. During the lead-up to D-Day, MK356 was used for fighter sweeps and ground attack, flying 60 operational sorties in support of the landings that resulted in damage from enemy fire, three wheels up landings and a partial credit for a victory over a Messerschmitt Bf 109. Its operational life came to an end following the third crash landing and it was stored by a maintenance unit. Following the war, MK356 served as an instructional airframe, a gate guardian and a static prop in the 1968 film Battle of Britain before becoming part of the RAF Museum Reserve Collection. A complete restoration to airworthy status began in 1992, and MK356 returned to the air in November 1997, subsequently joining BBMF. MK356 is now painted in a desert colour scheme, brown (dark earth) and sand (middle stone) top surfaces and azure blue underside, with the 92 Squadron code letters "QJ-3" representing Spitfire IX EN152 which operated in Tunisia during April and May 1943. One of the pilots who flew her was Flt Lt Neville Duke, a famous fighter pilot and later test pilot. Duke was the highest-scoring Western Allied fighter ace of the Mediterranean theatre, with 27 confirmed victories.

The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) operates from RAF Coningsby, a Typhoon and fighter base, in Lincolnshire. The mission of the RAF BBMF is to maintain the priceless artefacts of our national heritage in airworthy condition in order to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of this country, to promote the modern day Air Force and to inspire the future generations. Flown by regular serving RAF Aircrew, the BBMF operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane, a Lancaster as well as a C-47 Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training).

The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July,
usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The show typically attracts a total of 150.000 to 160.000 spectators over the weekend.
The 2018 Air Tattoo will reflect the 100th anniversary of the RAF with a commemoration
and celebration of a century of service to the United Kingdom and its allies.