History of Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc PV270

PV270 - MM4014 – 2080 – UB424

Built at Castle Bromwich as a LF Mk IX C with a Rolls Royce Merlin 66. Part of an Air Ministry order for 1,500 Spitfires dated 6 June 1943.

Delivered to 9 Maintenance Unit at Cosford on 28th September 1944 and then to 82 Maintenance Unit at Lichfield on 13th October 1944

Shipped from Liverpool to Casablanca on 21st October 1944 to join RAF Mediterranean Air Force, arriving on 3rd November at Casablanca.

Full RAF service is still being researched. Served with at least 111 (Fighter) Squadron (marked as “JU-F”) and 225 (Army Co-operation) Squadron (marked as “WU-J”) at Florence - also possibly 253 Squadron.

These Squadrons were involved in the Italian campaign and 253 was also involved in actions over Yugoslavia in support of the Partisan forces there.

Delivered on 28th January 1945 to 225 Squadron at Peretola Airfield, Florence (part of 285 Wing) from 357 Maintenance Unit at Jesi, Italy as a LF IX E.

On the 16th of March 1945, PV270 was transferred to 110 Maintenance Unit based at Brindisi

After the war it was one of 130 Spitfires then in storage at Treviso San Giuseppe that were handed over to the Italian Air Force on 16th February 1947.

It was allocated the Italian serial MM4014 and served from June 1947 with 5o Stormo at Vicenza and possibly 51o  Stormo at Treviso, all part of 20o Group of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana.

Servicing believed to have been undertaken by Aer Macchi company based on service plates found on the aircraft.  Known to have returned to Vickers Armstrongs on 5 December 1949

Spitfires served with the AMI for about two years. Structural problems and engine failures  during 1948 and 1949 contributed to a number of fatal accidents with the “war weary” Spitfires and this led to their effective retirement in 1950.

PV 270 was amongst a number of  Spitfires sold through SAI Ambrosini Company (Societa Aeronautica Italiana Ing. A. Ambrosini) to Israel in a deal concluded in February 1952 and in January 1953 it was handed over to the Israeli maintenance facility that had been established at Foggia. The aircraft went to Israel the next month as part of a deal including 35 Spitfires, 20 engines and a small stockpile of spare parts, with the Israelis giving the Spitfires the code name “Yorek”.

PV270 was allocated the Israeli serial, 20-80, and assigned initially to Serkin Air Base Flying School (Wing 22) in February 1953.The purpose of this school was to keep the flying instructors in a combat ready state.

The Spitfires allocated to Serkin, including PV270/2080, were selected as ones being in “better” condition and had their armament removed. They were then used by the pilots for aerobatics and simulated dog fighting to keep their combat skill levels high.

It was then assigned to 1 Wing (Kanaf 1) at Ramat David and then to 107 Squadron (Lion’s Head Squadron – then a fighter Operational Training Unit operating from Ramat David) in April and May 1953 and then again between December 1953 and January 1954.

On the 6th of October 1953, it was a part of 14-plane formation of Spitfire’s that took part in annual winter manoeuvres. The pilot on the day was Samual Bavly

March 1954 - Operation 'Orez' (“Rice”) - the Israeli Air Force agrees to sell Burma 30 Spitfires, and train Burmese pilots and technicians in Israel.

The Spitfires were overhauled by BEDEK (forerunner to Bedek Aviation Group Division of Israeli Aircraft Industries) in Israel before sale to the Burmese Air Force and delivery between October 1954 and May 1955.

PV270 was inspected and selected by the Burmese in April 1954. At the time it was recorded as having 644 flying hours since manufacture at Castle Bromwich and 144 hours since overhaul in Italy by Aer Macchi in May 1952.

On June 18, 1954, it was allocated to Operation “Phoenix”. A revised order was issued on June 29,1954 to transfer PV270 to Bedek on July 1, 1954 for Operation “Orez”, the preparation of the Spitfires for Burma.

It was flown by S. B. Feldman on the delivery flight to Bedek at Lydda on July 1, 1954. Then overhauled to zero hours by Bedek (Operation Orez B, utilizing 9,239 man hours)

The Burmese identity of UB424 allocated and ferried by Gardner starting June 29, 1955.

The first batch of seven Spitfires delivered went via a Mediterranean island where they were ferried by an independent ferry company using mainly British pilots and marked in full Burmese livery. PV270 would probably have been in this first batch ferried this way, based on assumed sequential serial deliveries.

When the sale was publicised, this route was effectively “shut down”. Because of the urgent Burmese need for the aircraft, the majority of the Spitfires were then ferried direct from Lydda in Israel. They were fitted with long-range tanks and left in groups of four every week. Their route was the Turkish Airfield of Digarbekir, Persia (Iran), India, Pakistan and then to Rangoon. The Spitfires were immediately assigned to action on the north eastern Burmese border.

The Burmese logbook shows PV 270’s first flight (acceptance check) in Burmese service 3 March 1955, obviously in Israel by the date.  Full service history details in Burma are not known other than the logbook shows a total of 338 hours with a number of combat periods away from its home base. 

Known to have been used operationally against Kuomintang guerrillas on the North Eastern Burma/China border and probably in actions against other ethnic insurgent groups in border actions. The log book records a repair of a bullet hole in the port aileron on 9 December 1955 after a week’s operations at a forward base

After a final flight on 12 January 1956, the aircraft went into storage. It then spent many years as a gate guardian at Hmwabi Air Force base (north of Yangon) in Burma, with the incorrect marking of UB425, before being moved to Mingadalon Air Force base in 1995 as part of the establishment of the Burma Air Force Museum.

PV270 will be restored in the colour scheme of Alan Deere’s personal Mk 9 Spitfire when he was Wing Leader at Biggin Hill     

Acknowledgements for research assistance from: Peter R Arnold (England), Gregory Alegi (Italy), Alex Yoffe (USA), Tsahi Ben-Ami and Myasnikov Avi (Israel).