The Spitfire Experience
Welcome to the
Spitfire experience booking page
To see available events
and book a session in the Spitfire for the 2017 season please click on this link
Shown above and
below our Spitfire EN398
The Spitfire experience offers you
the opportunity to experience the site smell and sound of the iconic RAF
The Spitfire experience means you will
sit in the cockpit and start the Rolls Royce 27 Litre engine which will run for
approximately one minute and be taken up to full power.
One of our experienced and knowledgeable
crew will give you a briefing and you will be able to take pictures or video of
This is a unique experience our
Spitfire EN 398 is the only full scale replica Spitfire in the world, which can
be transported by road to events that has a full original cockpit and working
The History of
the original Spitfire EN 398
Spitfire Mk IX EN398
took its maiden flight without problems on 13th February, 1943. On 18th
February the aircraft was delivered to No 402 (Canadian) Squadron at RAF Kenley.
There Ian Keltie took possession of it and used EN398 (then coded AE*I)
exclusively until mid March (by now coded AE*B), when 402 moved. Keltie's last
mission in EN398 occurred on March 13. When 402 moved however, EN398 was left
for their replacement squadron, also Canadian, No 416 Squadron.
four RCAF squadrons - Nos 403 and 416 with Spitfire Mk IXs, and 411and 421 with
Spitfire Mk Vs. On 16 March the then Wg Cdr 'Johnnie' Johnson arrived to lead
the wing. Surprisingly, it seems EN398 was still undergoing acceptance checks
(26 days after delivery? - and several operations!) when it caught the eye of
the new Wing Leader. He related their first meeting in his book "Wing Leader":
It is interesting to
note that Johnson remained convinced, almost until his death, that EN398 was
unused at this time, and the clean fresh paint was factory applied. However,
the reason the paint was fresh had more to do with the removal of the "Popeye"
nose art and other maintenance.
Johnson was also
convinced that the Maple Leaf painted on the side just below the windshield was
green rather than red.
Johnson's next step
was to have his initials painted on the fuselage to establish the aircraft as
Before he took the
Spitfire into action Johnson demanded two more changes. EN398's guns were set
to a standard harmonization pattern designed to spread the rounds evenly over a
circle a few feet across so as to give the average pilot a better chance of
shooting skills were far above the average. To concentrate all the destructive
power at his command he had his aircraft's weapons harmonized to a single
point. In addition, Johnson had the Gyroscopic gun site removed and his older
style one from his Mk V installed in it's place as he preferred it.
By the end of May,
1943, Johnson had added six victories and one shared victory to his score,
whilst flying EN398.
On 1 June he
shared in the destruction of a Me 109, on the 15 June he destroyed two FW 190s,
with one more on 17 June. Although EN398 was the Wing Leader's personal
aircraft, and he was normally the only pilot to fly it, there was occasionally a
need for the aircraft to make up the numbers during his absence.
On 20 June Sqn
Ldr Robert McNair (OC 421 Sqn.) flew EN398 in action and was credited with the
destruction of one FW 190.
On 24 June, Johnson
destroyed a FW 190 and damaged a Me 109. Another FW 190 fell to his guns three
On 15 July to
he led the Wing on a fighter sweep which added a Me 109 to his score. Another
one was added on 25 July, one damaged on 29 July, and a share in the destruction
of one more on 30 July.
continued throughout August. He shared in the destruction of a Me 109 plus
another one damaged on 12 August.
On 17 August
the Wing escorted B-17s on their way, and return from, the ball-bearing factory
at Schweinfurt. During the action Johnson shared in the destruction of a Me
A further Me
109 was destroyed on 23 August. While EN398 went off to Air Service Training at
Hamble for an engine change, Johnson, in a borrowed aircraft, shot down another
FW 190 on 4 September. Back with EN398 he damaged a Me 109. That was to be his
last claim before relinquishing his command of the Wing a few days later.
During his six months flying EN398, Johnson had shot down
12 enemy aircraft and shared in the destruction of five more.
Also, he had
inflicted damage on a further six enemy aircraft, plus a share in one more.
time EN398 had also destroyed a FW 190 whilst being flown by Robert McNair.
Remarkably, EN398 never broke off a mission early through technical failure.
After Johnson moved
on to No 11 Group Headquarters, EN398 went to No. 421 Squadron for a couple of
weeks before sustaining damage necessitating its return to Hamble for repairs.
The aircraft never
returned to operations (new aircraft were being delivered to units faster than
they could be repaired by that time).
in store for the remainder of the war in Europe.
EN398 was retrieved in May 1946 to go to No. 80 Operational Training Unit, RAF
Morpeth and Ouston, in Northumberland.
There, it was used in the training of young French pilots.
unit was disbanded in March 1949, and EN398 took off for the final time to go to
No. 29 Maintenance Unit, High Ercal, in Shropshire.
There she remained in long-term storage for three-and-a-half years. In October,
1952 Spitfire Mk IXc, serial number EN398, was sold to H. Bath & Son Ltd for
scrap and was cut up soon thereafter.