April 6, 2017 - The Collings Foundation has announced that they’ll be bringing one of their latest acquisitions, a British Supermarine Spitfire, to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017. Collings, a nonprofit educational foundation based in Stowe, Massachusetts, was founded in 1979, and has actively toured a number of warbirds around the country, including a B-17 and a B-24, for more than 25 years.
Their Spitfire, a 1942 Mk.IX, numbered BR601, is a veteran of 116 combat missions during World War II. Two aces were known to have flown BR601 during its career with the British Royal Air Force. The first was Australian Tony Gaze, the commanding officer of 64 Squadron RAF who amassed more than 12 1/2 victories (11 plus 3 shared), including a Messerschmitt 262. The other was Colin Falkland Gray, a New Zealander who was also with 64 Squadron. By war’s end, Gray had chalked up 27 1/2 victories.
After the war, BR601 transferred to the South African air force, and after serving a few years, was eventually put on static display on a pole. From there, it changed hands several times, heading to England in 1986, then New Zealand in 2008, and back to England in 2014 for final restoration by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.
“Any time we see a Spitfire at Oshkosh, it’s a big deal,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs who coordinates features and attractions at AirVenture. “But this one, not only a fresh restoration but a documented comb