SPITFIRE LFIXe SL633
This Spitfire IX is visiting RIAT 2015 from the United States, being owned by the Historic Flight and based at Paine Field in Seattle, Washington. It was built as one of the last batch of 'Spits' produced at the Castle Bromwich factory in 1945 and allocated to No 312 (Czech) Squadron at Manston in readiness for the re-formation of the Czechoslovak Air Force. SL633 was one of 54 Spitfires from the Czech-manned RAF squadrons that flew to Czechoslovakia for that purpose. It was given the code SL-10 and became the mount of Fg Off Karel Poöta DFC, who used the aircraft for aerobatic displays alongside its front-line fighter role. After the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to the UK. His former aircraft, meanwhile, was supplied to Israel and flew with that country's air force until 1954. Repaired and refurbished following a belly landing, SL633 went to the Burmese Air Force - its service there is unclear. It certainly spent some time up a pole in Mandalay once its flying days were over, fitted with the tail from a Harvard trainer. The airframe returned to the UK in 1999 and Historic Flying embarked on its restoration. Ascertaining its true identity after so many changes of hands proved a challenge, but meticulous research revealed it to be SL633. Upon completion of work, the Spitfire went to its new owners in Seattle, where the maiden flight was undertaken in October 2010. It forms part of an outstanding collection assembled by Historic Flight founder John Sessions, and is over in the UK this summer for a short tour. SL633 appears in its post-war Czechoslovak markings.