Supermarine Spitfire MK.XIX
The Supermarine Spitfire was nothing if not versatile, and one of the roles to which its outstanding performance was put was photo-reconnaissance. 'Alone, unarmed and unafraid' was the motto adopted by the RAF's photo-reconnaissance units during wartime, the speed and operating altitudes of the Spitfires used for the purpose enabling them often to avoid enemy attentions. The PRXIX was the last such mark, first appearing in 1944. It was powered by the Rolls-Royce Griffon 65 engine of 2,050hp, and, with its pressurised cockpit, could fly at heights of up to 42,000ft. Spitfire PRXIXs remained in RAF use until 1957, when serial PS853, today owned by Rolls-Royce, was one of the last three Spitfires retired by the air force. It was assigned to the then fledgling Historic Aircraft Flight, now the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. PS853 stayed with the BBMF until its sale in 1995. It is now in the ownership of Rolls-Royce as part of their heritage flight.