Supermarine Spitfire F(R).14

Single engine single seat fighter

 

     Immediately post World War II, the Belgian Air Force planned the creation of two daytime fighter wings (Wing “A" and "B") consisting each of two Squadrons of 16 Spitfire fighters. Because the RAF wanted Belgium to return the 24 Spitfire LF.16 which equipped N°s 349 and 350 Squadrons in 1946, an order was placed for the delivery of 100 Rolls Royce Griffon powered Spitfire F(R).14 fighters. All these former RAF machines were delivered between April 1947 and July 1949 (one aircraft, SG-39, was refused because it was not found to be in an acceptable state while a second machine (MV360) crashed during delivery - both aircraft were replaced later on). In the framework of the Western Union Treaty 30 additional attrition replacement Spitfires were ordered and also 2 fighters to replace those mentioned above.  A total of 132 Spitfire F(R).14 fighters were used by 10 Squadrons while three additional non-flying machines were delivered as instructional airframes for the Technical School at Saffraanberg (and Tongeren). The Mark 14 (in post-war Belgium the designation in Arabic numbers was used instead of the wartime Roman numbers) came with two distinct cockpit versions, the classic "Malcolm hood" and the "Bubble hood" while some aircraft had the reconnaissance window (therefore the FR designation in some cases) and others not. However the recce capability was never used in Belgium. The Spit F(R).14 was a very demanding aircraft to fly, but once tamed the machine was certainly to be considered as one of the best propeller driven fighters of its time. The Belgian Spitfire F(R).14 served with the following Squadrons: N°s 349 and 350 Squadrons of the 1st Wing at Beauvechain, N°s 1, 2, and 3 Squadrons of the 2nd Wing at Florennes, N°s 23, 27 and 31 Squadrons of the 10th Wing at Chièvres and the Fighter School based at Koksijde. Soon after the delivery of the first jet powered Meteor F.4 and F.8 the Spitfires were faced out of operational service and only remained as trainers at the Fighter School until 1954. The majority of the Belgian Spit 14's were scrapped and only four were preserved for posterity. (Daniel Brackx)  

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