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:

 

SOME OF THE WRECKAGE OF THE SPITFIRE TE 294

 

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…

 

FUSELAGE AS OF AUGUST 2001

 

 

FUSELAGE AS OF AUGUST 2001

 

 

FUSELAGE AS OF SEPTEMBER 2001

 

By 2002, the firewall and front panels had been installed.

 

FRAME 5 WITH NEW FIREWALL ATTACHED

 

 

FRAME 5 WITH FIREWALL REINSTALLED

 

The following year, the skinning of the Fuselage began.

 

BONN AND TOM ROLLING OUT A SKIN PANEL

 

 

DAVE PREPARING BELLY SKIN

 

 

BONN WORKING ON DORSAL SKIN A1

 

 

BONN FITTING IN A SKIN PANEL

 

 

BONN RIVETING AFT SKINS

 

 

DRILLING THE SKINS FROM THE INSIDE

 

By 2004, the Belly and Fuselage skinning had been finished.

 

BELLY SKIN SECURED WITH CLECOS

 

 

BELLY SKIN AFTER BEING RIVETED ON

 

By 2005, the work focused on the construction of the upper fuselage and the cockpit frame.

 

COCKPIT DOOR FITTED PRIOR TO PERMANENT INSTALLATION

 

 

COCKPIT ROAMING RIVETED WITH WINDSCREEN INSTALLED TEMPORARILY

 

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.

 

RUDDER NOSE FAIRING NEW AND OLD FAIRING

 

 

RUDDER RESTORATION

 

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:

 

MIKE FORBES WITH THE Y2K SPITFIRE, COMOX

* All photos courtesy Mike Forbes