Photo: former pilots with 602 City of Glasgow Squadron, Jack Forrest (left) and Hector McLean welcome home the restored aircraft. Photo: Ian Watson.
Yesterday, at Glasgow's Museum of Transport, Battle of Britain veterans officially welcomed home a restored Spitfire that once flew with the 602 City of Glasgow Squadron.
The Mark XXI Spitfire, serial number LA198, has been out of action since a crash in 1949, but after a five-year restoration project is back to its former glory and on public display for the first time.
Back in 1939 the 602 City of Glasgow was the first UK auxiliary squadron to receive Spitfires. On August 7, 2003 former 602 pilots, Hector McLean and Jack Forrest were on hand to welcome the last one left back to the city.
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told the 24 Hour Museum how the two had been delighted to see the aircraft in such good condition.
Photo: the aircraft as it looked when it flew out of Abbotsinch airfield back in 1948. Courtesy of Glasgow Museums.
"They thought it looked as good as new, if not better than when it was flown," he said.
While Hector McLean flew Spitfires during the war, eventually losing a leg, Jack Forrest, former Commanding Officer of 602 Squadron, actually flew the now restored aircraft.
"From my own perspective it was great to meet these people," added the spokesperson, "There can't be many of them left and it was a real reminder of what they did."
Spitfire LA198 served with 602 Squadron, based at Abbotsinch airfield, between 1947 and 1949 when an accident put it out of action. An event, which the log book describes as, "engine trouble, pranged on runway – did not fly again."
In 1996, the aircraft was retrieved from the RAF Museum store at Cardington and with Parliamentary permission, since all military equipment is the property of the MoD, was gifted to the City of Glasgow. Two years later the restoration project began at the Museum of Flight in East Fortune.
Photo: former Commanding Officer of 602 City of Glasgow Squadron, Jack Forrest admires LA198. Photo: Ian Watson.
A joint venture between Glasgow City Council, National Museums of Scotland and the Scottish Executive, the restoration cost a total of £433,000.
"The Spitfire stands alone in the British consciousness thanks to its role in the country's survival during the Battle of Britain and victory in the Second World War," explained Cllr. John Lynch, Convener of Glasgow City Council's Cultural and Leisure Services Committee.
"Now that LA198 stands in the Museum of Transport, Glaswegians have the opportunity to pay tribute to the service performed by our own 602 Squadron."
Spitfire LA198 will be on display at the Museum of Transport until 2005, when it will take up permanent residence at the refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.