Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Spitfire: Whatever became of Evelyn ?

The Spitfire "Evelyn"

Whatever became of her ?

Many of us aircraft nuts who grew up in South Africa were enarmoured by Evelyn, the only airworthy Spitfire, lovingly restored at the SAAF museum in Lanseria. 
We were all distraught when she was subsequently sold to a foreign collector.

I recently did an online search, and discovered her whereabouts:




Spitfire HF. IXe MA793, painted as "Evelyn"  SA in the 1980s

This aircraft was produced at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to 6 MU RAF on 21 July 1943. It was shipped to the Mediterranean on 5 August 1943 and was operated by the Mediterranean Allied AF till it was transferred to the USAAF on 31 October 1943. It was returned to the RAF in May 1944 and stored with 39 MU in the UK till it was sold to the South African AF on September 30, 1948, serialled 5601.

 It is currently on display at the "TAM Asas de Um Sonho" Museum, located in Sao Carlos, Brazil. It is also the only airworthy Spitfire in South America. The aircraft was donated to the museum by Rolls-Royce and painted in the colours and markings of RAF ace Johnnie Johnson.

About the restoration:

The Spitfire "WR RR" or known locally in SA as Evelyn....is not the original aircraft Bob Rogers flew in WW II

This aeroplane, historical as it is, was merely painted to resemble his Spitfire. It was not his original Spitfire they restored from the scrap heap and painted as WR RR. Evelyn was named after his wife. His actual Spitfire WR RR; was a clipped wing Spitfire MK9E, which he flew as 40 Sq OC in Italy. Bob's aircraft is often depicted as the aircraft above in models and aviation paintings, but the historical truth is that his original aircraft was a clipped-wing MK9E.

"Evelyn" today, in Brazil

Serial #: MA793
Construction #: Unknown
Civil Registration: N930LB
Model: HF Mk. IXe
Name: None (Known as "Evelyn" In SA, Painted as above)
Status: Airworthy

Note:
Only Spitfire existing known to have flown with USAAF.
History: 
Delivered to RAF as MA793, 19??.
- Assigned to 6 MU in July 1943.
Transferred to USAAF as MA793
- BOC: Oct. 31, 1943
- SOC: May 1944.
Delivered to South African Air Force 5601, Sept. 30, 1948.
Meerhof Hospital for Handicapped Children, Pretoria. Apr. 27, 1954-1967.
- Displayed in playground.
Larry Barnett & Alan Lurie, Johannesburg, 1967-1986.
- Rebuilt to flying condition.
- First flight Aug. 29, 1975, Johannesburg-Jan Smuts.
- Flown as SAAF PT672/WR-RR.
- Loaned to SAAF, Lanseria AB, 1976-1986.
Larry Barnett International California, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, July 14, 1986-1999.
- Shipped to Chino, CA, first flight Jan. 1, 1987.
- Operated by David G. Price/Museum Of Flying, Santa Monica, CA Aug. 1986-1999.
-- Flown as RAF/EN398/JE-J
Rolls Royce PLC, Filton, UK, 1999.
Transportes Aereos Regional- TAM/Wings Of Dreams Museum, Sao Carlos, Brazil, 1999-2002.
- Shipped to Brazil from Camarillo, CA, Jan. 2000.
- First flight, Jundai, Brazil, May 3, 2002.
- Flown as EN398-JE-J.








12 comments:

  1. I was at Lanseria Air Show in 1975 and '77. As I recall, the aircraft missed out on the '75 show due to an "incident" soon after first flight. However it was just fine in '77. Why on earth was it sold abroad?

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  2. She was the first Spitfire I saw flying, at Lanseria in 1977. I relocated to Brazil and many years later had the pleasure of seeing this beautiful bird both at Jundiai airport and then later at the São Carlos TAM museum. The ferry flight from Jundiai to São Carlos was the first and only (until now) flight that this plane did in Brazil (back in 2002) but she is kept in immaculate flying condition at the museum.

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  3. This plane was restored at Atlas Aircraft Corporation - I would know, because I worked on it as an apprentice aircraft mechanic in 1976 / 1977 - I don't see that mentioned anywhere??

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    Replies
    1. Like wise I was also at Atlas Aircraft and was involved with the installation of the VHF radio...I remember it well and also the maiden flight from Atlas...wonderful memories especially when you hear that motor running !!!

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  4. I was well acquainted with this aircraft. Evelyn Barnett, Larry Barnett's wife, was my business partner. When Larry was getting too old to fly it he asked me if I would be interested in becoming the designated pilot. Before I could ever take my first flight the plane was dismantled and shipped to the US. I have some lovely photos of myself in the plane (on the ground, of course).

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  5. I was well acquainted with this aircraft. Evelyn Barnett, Larry Barnett's wife, was my business partner. When Larry was getting too old to fly it he asked me if I would be interested in becoming the designated pilot. Before I could ever take my first flight the plane was dismantled and shipped to the US. I have some lovely photos of myself in the plane (on the ground, of course).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was well acquainted with this aircraft. Evelyn Barnett, Larry Barnett's wife, was my business partner. When Larry was getting too old to fly it he asked me if I would be interested in becoming the designated pilot. Before I could ever take my first flight the plane was dismantled and shipped to the US. I have some lovely photos of myself in the plane (on the ground, of course).

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  7. I'm happy to have witnessed the amount of care she receives in Brazil. She's not flying but is maintained in pristine shape and flying condition.

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  8. I understand that the museum has closed- any news about the fate of this Spitfire now?

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  9. For now, it looks like the closing of the museum is temporary. They are working on getting an alternative location in the city of São Paulo, where the Brazilian Air Force has signaled willingness to donate the space they need to put the superb collection this museum holds. Fingers crossed.

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  10. I witnessed Evelyn doing a victory roll as she took off from Margate after an EAA weekend. It was whilst all the EAA members were in their Annual General meeting, so there were only a few people at the airport at the time. Larry had refused to do a roll at the airshow but did it when hardly anyone was there to see it. I also have four sequential photos of Evelyn as she crashed at Margate airport (I think a year or two after I saw her). Not much damage was done - the prop took the brunt of the crash.

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  11. Last week it was announced that the whole museum's collection (including Evelyn) will be transferred to new installations to be built in São Paulo. Move to be completed sometime in 2019. When done, at least now that collection will be available to a local population of more than 20 million people. Museum's previous location (300 km from Sao Paulo) was way too far to attract enough visitors to maintain it. Fingers still crossed.

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