Mike Forbes said last week that he’d waited for 17 years to sit in the cockpit of the Y2K Spitfire… he hoped he’d be able to do so while the Y2K Spitfire was back in the Comox Valley…
But perhaps we should go back in time to find out how it all began for Mike… how it started with this:
The Spitfire TE 294 was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich, UK and a year later assigned to 39th Maintenance Unit. In 1946 it served with RAF Squadron 122; however, in 1947, it was sold to South African Air Force, Waterkloof Air Base where the assigned serial was #5519. Damaged in a landing accident in 1951, it was then written off and sold for scrap disposal. The SAAF Museum acquired it for restoration and put it in storage the following year.
In 1990, Mark DeVries purchased the Spitfire and brought it to Canada, selling it to the Comox Air Force Museum ten years later. It was in 2000 that the Y2K Project started; the Fuselage Jig was obtained and fuselage construction began. Mike’s photos document some of the work done over time…
By 2002, the firewall and front panels had been installed.
The following year, the skinning of the Fuselage began.
By 2004, the Belly and Fuselage skinning had been finished.
By 2005, the work focused on the construction of the upper fuselage and the cockpit frame.
Over the next three years, the focus was on the completion and mounting of the rudder and elevator, as well as the undercoating and painting of the fuselage.
Vintage Wings took over the project in 2009; work continued over the next five years on the engine mount, control systems, the fitting of the seat; in addition the control cables, fittings, electrical systems, instrument panel, instruments… the hydraulic and pneumatic systems… the cooling system… and the mounting of the engine.
In 2014, the aircraft was disassembled and shipped to Vintage Wings, Gatineau. It was there that the aircraft was reconstructed. The wings were finished and mounted, the aircraft was on wheels, and all systems were installed by the end of 2016. In 2017, the aircraft was painted, there were engine test runs, and test flights took place. And this year, 2018, marked the return of the Y2K Spitfire to the Comox Valley… looking like this:
* All photos courtesy Mike Forbes