SPITFIRE LFIX MH434
Of all the Spitfires airworthy today, MH434 is perhaps the most famous. This stems both from its RAF combat service and its career in preservation, for much of which it was flown by the legendary former Red Arrows leader Ray Hanna. Built at Castle Bromwich, the aircraft flew in August 1943 and was one of the many Spitfires air-tested by the great test pilot Alex Henshaw. In service with No 222 (Natal) Squadron, it shot down two Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190s in the hands of South African pilot Flt Lt Henry Lardner-Burke while on operations over occupied Europe. Serving with No 350 (Belgian) Squadron and back with 222, MH434's combat career continued until March 1945, having flown more than 80 operational sorties. Post-war it went to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (seeing more combat action in Java) and the Belgian Air Force, prior to being sold into civilian hands. MH434 was operated by Belgian target-towing firm COGEA until 1963, when Tim Davies bought the aircraft and returned it to the UK. It was flown in 1968's filming of 'The Battle of Britain', one of MH434's many appearances on the big and small screens. During Sir Adrian Swire's ownership from 1969-83, Ray Hanna began flying MH434, developing his inimitable style of warbird display. The Old Flying Machine Company acquired the Spitfire in 1983 - it has remained in their ownership ever since, flying now in part as a memorial to both of the OFMC's founders, Ray and Mark Hanna.