RAF Museum Cosford unveils rare restored photo reconnaissance Spitfire

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 November 2011
a photo of a man kneeling next to a plane in a hangar
Museum Attendant Ian Dean-Netscher with Spitfire PR XIX.© RAF Museum, Cosford
The latest beneficiary of the pioneering work of the Conservation Centre at the RAF Museum Cosford has been revealed in the museum’s Warplanes Hangar

A rare Supermarine Spitfire Photo Reconnaissance PR. XIX PM651 is the latest addition to the aircraft collection standing next to a Hurricane and a Mk 1 Spitfire.

The aircraft was originally ordered in 1943 as a Mk VII, but was eventually built by Vickers at Eastleigh as a Photo Reconnaissance (PR) XIX and not collected from them until November 1945. 

The last of the specialised photo reconnaissance Spitfires, the PR. XIX was unarmed but faster than earlier models of Spitfire and could carry two vertical cameras and one oblique camera mounted in the rear fuselage. With a top speed of 445mph the aircraft boasted a retractable rear wheel, extra fuel tanks and a pressurised cabin, which meant it could reach 42,500ft in height.

However, this improved model never saw RAF Squadron service but was instead used at RAF Woodvale where for a short time it flew Meteorological Research Temperature and Humidity flights.

After a period on display at RAF Andover and RAF Benson, the aircraft was loaned to Spitfire Productions for use in the film Battle of Britain where it appeared in ground shots in the hangars at RAF Duxford.

By 1989 XIX had found its way into the Royal Air Force Museum where it was stripped of essential parts for other Spitfire restorations and sent to the museum’s storage hangar at RAF Stafford.

Now after almost a year of restoration work the aircraft has been repainted to its original paint scheme.

Clare Carr, RAF Museum Cosford Assistant Curator said she was “delighted to be able to display two models of such an iconic aircraft”.

“They help to show the diverse roles in which the Spitfire served ranging from fighter interceptor to high altitude photographic reconnaissance.”

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