The Grace Spitfire ML407 was originally built at Castle Bromwich in early 1944 as a Mark IX single seat fighter and served in the front line of battle throughout the last twelve months of World War II with six different allied Squadrons of the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force. ML407 flew a total of 176 operational combat sorties amassing an impressive total 319 combat hours. ML407 was delivered to 485 New Zealand Squadron on the 29th April 1944 by Jackie Moggridge, one of the top lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxilllary (ATA), where it became the ‘mount’ of Flying Officer Johnnie Houlton DFC who was accredited, whilst flying ML407, with the first enemy aircraft shot down over the Normandy beachhead on 6th June D-Day.
In December 1944 ML407 was transferred to 341 Free French Squadron to Sergeant Jean Dabos. It then moved on through various Allied Squadrons – 308 (Polish) Squadron, 349 (Belgian) Squadron, 345 (Free French) Squadron, 332 (Norwegian) Squadron and back to 485 (New Zealand) Squadron at the cessation of hostilities. ML407 then went into a Maintenance Unit where it remained until being selected by Vickers-Armstrongs at Eastleigh, Southampton for conversion in 1950 to the two seat configuration for the Irish Air Corps as an advanced trainer. ML407 changed to 162 and flew to Baldonnel. Flying a further 762 with the IAC the aircraft was put into storage and offered for sale in 1968. Sir William Roberts eventually bought the aircraft for his museum in Strathallan.
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