Second World War Spitfire takes flight again after two decade-long, $5-million restoration.
The Comox Air Force museum contains a wonderful look back at Canada’s aviation history so it was no surprise that in the year 2000 the museum purchased a World War II Spitfire to restore it.
The plane had been retired by the British after Second World War and given to the South African Air Force but was sent to a scrap yard after a crash.
“So the aircraft was never bothered to be repaired,” Jon Ambler of the Comox Airforce Museum said.
“It was pushed off literally into a scrapyard and it just started gradually over the years in the South African junk yard to fall to bits.”
The pieces eventually ended up in a specifically built hanger at 19 Wing Comox and the volunteer effort to restore it began but the years went by and the money ran out.
“It was within weeks, we almost lost it,” restoration manager Terry Chester said.
“It was to the point we were out of money, out of airspeed, out of ideas.”
So in 2008, the project was turned over to Vintage Wings Canada. Crews contended to work on it here in Comox
“The fuselage which is the main body of an airplane, and its tail and the cockpit and where the engine mounts was largely finished here in Comox.” Ambler said.
It is the only Spitfire restored in Canada and one of about only 20 in the world.
It was shipped to Gatineau Quebec in 2014 to be completed and now test pilots are putting her through the paces.
“To watch the wheels come up and to watch it flying around, all the hard work and sweat and time and effort we put into it was worthwhile,” Chester said.
“The truth? I was a little teary, I was a little teary” Ambler said.
“So the link back to it is the sacrifice made by Canadians like Arnie Roseland.”
The plane is named after Arnold Roseland, a Second World War pilot from 442 squadron in Comox who flew 65 sorties in a Spitfire.
It’s hoped the Y2K Spitfire one will return to Comox on a tour next summer.