MK923 Spitfire Mk IX in 126 Squadron RAF Markings
Related Notes by Caz
MK923 [N921R] a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX in the 1944 markings of 126 Squadron RAF based at Sawbridgenorth and
Coded 5J-Z - Now resides at Seattle Washington- Museum of Flight but when photographed at the Hamilton International Airshow on 20th June 1982, was owned by Cliff Robertson and flown by Jerry Billing
Brief History of MK923 [N921R]: Built March 1944 at Castle Bromwich with the first test flight carried out by
Alex Henshaw on the March 18th 1944.
Allocated to 126 Squadron at Sawbridgenorth, Hertfordshire, May 10th 1944. MK923 was given the code 5J-Z. MK923 first action was a shipping reconnaissance sortie on May 28 1944 flown by Squadron Leader W.W.Swinden. then Officer Commanding 126 Squadron.
MK923 left 126 Squadron after squadron were relocated to Bentwaters December 30th 1944, from here it went to various MU's in the closing stages of WW2. MK923 was taken on charge by the Dutch Government on the May 19th 1947 and became H-104. After a 5 years in Dutch service, was sold to the Belgian Air force March 1952 as SM-37.
Declared surplus on the 25th April 1958, the Aircraft gained the Belgian civilian registration of OO-ARF. Film status came in 1961 when OO-ARF starred in the Longest Day coded as GW:U.
MK923 was sold in 1963 to the movie actor Cliff Robertson , who commissioned a complete rebuild and the late Neil Williams ferried the Aircraft from Ostend to Biggin Hill for this to be carried out. On completion the Aircraft was dismantled and shipped to Oxnard California where the US Registration N93081, which the Aircraft never carried was changed to N512R.
Another rebuilt was commissioned in 1972 and this in when Jerry Billing was contacted to carry out the post-rebuild test flights for Cliff. This was the start of a 22½ year relationship between Jerry Billing and MK923, with Jerry displaying the Aircraft at shows across North America. From 1976 the Aircraft was based near Jerry's home in Ontario, from where he continued to display MK923 at shows until his retirement in 1994 aged 75, when he had been flying Spitfires for over 52 Years.
In 1996 the Aircraft was sold to Mr. Craig McCaw and ferried back to California by Bud Granley, who was to be her display Pilot for the remaining 4 years of MK923 Flying career.
In 2000 due to loose rivets, it was decided to display in a museum and MK923 now resides at:
Seattle Washington - Museum of Flight .
A More detailed History with pictures of MK923 on Jerry Billing's Website