PL965 Spitfire PR Mk XI in 16 Squadron Markings Coded R
Related Notes by Caz
PL965 a Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI was delivered to 16 Squadron Royal Air Force in 1944. Designed to operate at high altitudes (over 30,000 ft) and at high speeds of over 400 mph PR MK XIX was the fastest of all the Merlin powered Spitfires.
16 Squadron at this time was operating as a 'Forward Squadron', based at Melsbroek airfield, near Brussels in Belgium as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force and under the command of Squadron Leader Tony Davis DFC.
16 Squadron's primary task was to provide photographs of enemy territory for bomb damage assessment, to monitor airfields harbouring jet and rocket propelled aircraft and to build up the vital photographic maps which were used by the bomber groups for "pin point" bombing accuracy.
To achieve this, Squadron Spitfires operated missions at both low and high altitudes and always flying alone, usually encountering Anti-Aircraft (AA) fire and were often intercepted and strafed by German fighters including the new jet powered ME 262, one of the few aircraft that had the speed to catch them.
With the war over, PL965 was retired from RAF Service and sold for the Princely sum of £25.0s.0d to the Royal Netherlands Air force and on the 10th July 1947 flown to Deelen in Holland. Maintained, but not flown until 1953 when it was retired from the RNAF. There is now an eight year gap, but from 1960 until 1987 the Aircraft was an outdoor exhibit at the Dutch War Museum.
After some negotiation a 'swap was arranged with Nick Grace, with the result the Museum obtained in March 1987 Spitfire Mk.XIV NH649 and Nick Grace PL965. After Nick Grace's tragic death in a Road Accident in October 1988, the project was sold to Chris Horsley and MAPS at Rochester Airport was asked to complete the restoration. After nearly four years work the highly experienced and dedicated MAPS team, on 23rd December 1992, PL965 was taken for a short test hop at Rochester in the hands of now sadly late Mark Hanna.
Following this first flight, PL965 now also registered as G-MKXI became part of the Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC) Fleet and for the next five years led an interesting life at Displays and in Film Roles.
In March 1997 it was sold to the Real Aeroplane Company and whilst with them went through several colour schemes, before setting off on a three year sojourn in the USA. After returning to the UK on the 19th June 2004, after which it did several more displays as part of the Real Aeroplane Company Fleet, before being sold to Peter Teichman and moved to North Weald on the 8th September 2004. At time of writing in late 2010, PL965/G-MKXI remains an active part of Peter Teichman's
Hangar 11 Collection. Photographed at the Shoreham Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) display 16th September 2006.
For a detailed history see:
PL965 Spitfire PR Mk XI - City of St Albans Spitfire Squadron Page
Hangar 11 Collection