Supermarine Seafire Mk XV
Status: In re-build (flying 2018 tbc)
The Griffon engined Seafire were just entering service with the Fleet Air Arm when the Second World War came to an end. If the war had continued for a few month longer the Seafire XV would have superseded the Seafire III in carriers of the British Pacific Fleet.
Although several previous models of the Spitfire had been adapted to go to sea as the Seafire, the Mk XV was the first variant with a more powerful Griffon engine (rather than the Merlin) and was in fact an amalgamation of a strengthened Seafire III airframe and wings along with the wing fuel tanks, retractable tail wheel, larger elevators and broad-chord “pointed” rudder of the Spitfire VIII. The engine cowling was slightly different to that of the Spitfire XII series, being secured with a larger number of fasteners and lacking the acorn shaped blister behind the spinner. The final 30 Mk XVs were built with the blown “teardrop” cockpit canopy and cut down rear fuselage introduced on the Spitfire Mk XVI. 390 Seafire XVs were built by Cunliffe-Owen and Westland from late 1944, although six prototypes had been built by the original manufacturer Supermarine. At the end of WW2, the Royal Canadian Navy acquired Seafire Mk XV’s from the Royal Navy and operated them from the aircraft carriers HMCS Magnificent and HMS Warrior, before being replaced by Sea Furies in 1948.
Seafire XV 462 was assigned to 802 Naval Air Squadron operating off HMS Venerable in 1946. Tim’s father, (at the time Lieutenant Commander & Group Leader Terence “Pablo” Percy DSC) joined up with the squadron at RAF China Bay in Trincomalee in what was then still Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).