SM520 was built in the Castle Bromwich factory in 1944 as single seat Mark H.F.IXe high level fighter, with firewall construction number CBAF 10164. It was delivered to the RAF on 23 November 1944 at 33 Maintenance Unit at RAF Lyneham but with the European conflict tapering off it was retained in storage until being shipped or flown (they did both) to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1948, one of a 136, 80 gifted and the remainder sold by the UK Government for £2,000 a piece. Very little is known of its history after that but the SAAF Spitfires were used mostly for training, being issued to various Bombing, Gunnery and Air Navigation schools and latterly to the Air Operations School to train pilots en route to Korea to operate with the SAAF P-51 Mustangs.
Clearly involved in a major flying accident, the aircraft was recovered to AFB Ysterplaat until its wreckage was disposed to the scrap yard of SA Metals in Cape Town. Here it languished for many years until recovered to the SAAF Museum store compound at Snake Valley and identified by Spitfire historian Peter Arnold as SM520 in 1981. It then passed through various owners before being purchased by Paul Portelli in 2002. It was Paul who decided it should be restored and converted to a Trainer 9 two-seater. He commissioned Airframe Assemblies to convert the fuselage and build the wings and Classic Aero to undertake the fitting out of the project. The aircraft now registered as G-ILDA after Paul's granddaughter. Paul's untimely death meant that on completion the aircraft was put up for Auction at Bonhams where it was purchased by the current owner Steve Boultbee Brooks, Managing Director of Boultbee in April 2009. It is now operated by Spitfire Display Limited and sponsored by Boultbee.
The aircraft will be displaying as part of the Air Tattoo's Gala Dinner programme on Friday evening only. It is scheduled to depart RAF Fairford on Saturday morning.