A silver Spitfire – and one of the last, this is F.Mk.24 VN485, which stands today in the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
The Mk.24 was the last of the breed, built in 1946-47, and never saw active service. A decade after the type entered service, and trying to stay on terms with the first generation of jet fighters, the Spitfire Mk.24 had a pressurized cockpit to allow her pilots to reach a ceiling of 43,500 feet, powered by a 2,050 hp Rolls-Royce Griffon with a maximum speed of 454 mph with a service ceiling of 43,500 feet.
VN485 was delivered in 1947 and was shipped to Hong Kong in 1950 to join gathering reserves in what was a potential hot spot in the burgeoning Cold War.
Hostilities did break out in Asia but on the Korean Peninsular, meaning that none of the Spitfires were needed. The Hong Kong airmen had little to do and life must have been quite pleasant, all things considered. When the Queen visited Hong Kong in April 1955 four of the the local Spitfires – including VN485 – made the last official sortie by the type in RAF service when they performed a flypast before heading into retirement.
VN485 was placed on display in Hong Kong – being pictured in a replica Battle of Britain livery of 610 Squadron in the mid-1960s – before becoming a gate guardian. She was eventually donated to the Imperial War Museum in 1989 and restored to her 1954-55 colour scheme in 2004.
For more information on the Imperial War Museum’s fantastic facilities at Duxford, visit the website.