Classic WW2-era fighter joins Yeovilton’s growing historic collection

An iconic WW2-era fighter will display in tribute to naval aviators after it was snapped up by the guardians of the Fleet Air Arm’s history.

Charity Navy Wings has bought a vintage Supermarine Seafire – the naval version of Britain’s most famous aircraft, the Spitfire – so it can appear at air displays as a ‘flying memorial’ to past air and ground crew.

Seafire Mk XVII SX336 landed at RNAS Yeovilton – where pilots learned to fly the fighters 80 years ago – to join Navy Wings’ collection of legendary naval aircraft, including the Swordfish, Sea Fury, Sea Vixen and Sea Hawk.

Purchased with a major donation gifted for the specific purpose of adding a Seafire to the collection, Seafire SX336 is the only airworthy Mk XVII – and one of only very few Seafires still flying in the world.

The aircraft has been meticulously and lovingly restored by her former owner.

“SX336 is a magnificent example of the naval story of the Spitfire,” said Navy Wings’ CEO Jock Alexander.

“Few people know that the Spitfire went to sea, and we couldn’t have wished for a more iconic and evocative British fighter to add to the collection.”

Seafires served extensively with the Fleet Air Arm from the second half of World War 2 through to the Korean War a decade later. It particularly distinguished itself grappling with Kamikazes as the British Pacific Fleet helped to defeat Japan in 1944 and 1945.

Seafire SX336 is a Mk XVII model which rolled out of the Westland factory in Yeovil in 1946 and was painted in post-war Royal Navy colours with the markings of Yeovilton-based 776 Naval Air Squadron.

Powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon VI engine and possessing greater firepower and speed over the early models, SX336 flew over her birthplace before touching down at Yeovilton.

“The Seafire will not only be an exciting new display aircraft but will also enhance our broader heritage package, enabling the charity to provide different formations of aircraft to air show organisers in the future” said Navy Wings’ Chief Operating Officer Frank Hopps.

“Flying aircraft are a unique archive of history and the Seafire gives the collection a real rarity value enabling us to deliver multiple benefits to our outreach and educational programmes.”

The gift which enabled Navy Wings to purchase the Seafire also included a spare engine which is critical for the long-term support and sustainability of the veteran aircraft.

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