MH434 is considered to be the most famous Supermarine Spitfire still flying in the 21st century.[5]


Side view of MH434 in Piece of Cake colour scheme.[6]


World War 2

Built by Vickers at Castle Bromwhich in 1943, MH434 was test flown by Alex Henshaw at the beginning of August 1943, before joining 222 Squadron on August 19th, where it was allocated to Flt. Lt. Henry Lardner-Burke. While escorting B-17 bombers of the USAAF over St Omar, France on 27th August, Lardner-Burke used MH434 to destroy one Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and damage a second.[5] Again flying MH434, Lardner-Burke shot down another Fw 190 in the Nieuport area on 5th September, and claimed a half share in a Messerschmitt Bf-109G downed over Northern France on 8th September.[7]

MH434 was transferred to 350 Squadron in early 1944 before being returned to 222. [8] The aircraft was then passed to 84 Ground Support unit on 15th June[9]

Post War

In 1947, MH434 was passed to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, who used the aircraft on 165 operational sorties against Nationalist forces in Indonesia,[10] using fuselage codes H-105 and H-68. Transferred to the Belgian Air Force in 1953, and operated by their Fighter School as SM-41, it was acquired by COGEA, a Belgian target-towing company in 1956, becoming OO-ARA,[2] before returning to the UK in 1964. Used in the film Battle of Britain, MH434 became the property of Sir Adrian Swire during 1970, before ownership passed to a syndicate led by former RAF "Red Arrows" leader Ray Hanna at the Christies' auction at Duxford in 1983-becoming one of the founding aircraft of what would become the Old Flying Machine Company.[10]


  1. The scene features the then-owner of the aircraft, Tim Davies, dressed as an RAF pilot talking to a ground crewman from the cockpit as the urgently-awaited film is unloaded.
  2. The scene involves the Spitfire sweeping in low over the flat countryside and buzzing a young dutch resistance fighter riding a bicycle. MH434 was to have appeared in a second scene, but this was dropped from the final film cut.
  3. MH434 was flown by Ray Hanna for the filming, which took place on the Channel island of Guernsey.
  4. Filmed in 1987 for Writer/Director John Boorman, this was the first role in a major film whilst owned by Ray Hanna and The Old Flying Machine Company, who still operate this Spitfire today.
  5. This was filmed in Tyneside, with MH434's regular pilot Ray Hanna at the controls.[4] MH434 was one of six airworthy Spitfires flown in the series and appears in nearly every flying sequence filmed. It was the aircraft that the six full-size, non-airworthy, aluminium and GRP replica Spitfires built for the mini-series were crafted upon.
  6. MH434 was repainted in an all-over anonymous light Grey colour scheme with no other markings for the episode, filmed on the former Battle of Britain airfield at West Malling. This scheme was altered into an RAF high-altitude scheme and then Norwegian Air Force scheme later in the summer of 1989.
  7. This was the third time MH434 featured a Battle of Britain-style paint finish (with codes "CK:D"), which was later modified into a Belgian Air Force scheme.
  8. The air-to-air work was shot over two days at Duxford. MH434 was flown by Rolf Meum and wears a 1941-style No. 121 "Eagle" Squadron scheme as "AV:H, which it wore from 1992 until the start of it's first ever complete rebuild in 1994.
  9. A number of other preserved Spitfires featured in the opening scenes, shown at dispersal around the RAF airfield where the squadron is based. This series is notable in that two Daimler Benz-engined Bf109G "Gustavs" were used for the airfield attack scene and for some air-to-air combat scenes with preserved B-17 bomber "Sally B".
  10. Used in the 'Woeful Second World War' Take That parody "The Few" (RAF Pilots).
  11. MH434 had it's spinner painted black to more closely match the "Piece of Cake" footage, although wears a later war scheme. Lee Proudfoot was the aircraft's pilot in the newly-filmed segments.
  12. While commentating on the display, Perry Darnley (Robert Bathurst) describes the aircraft as a Spitfire Mk II.


  1. Wikimedia
  2. 2.0 2.1
  4. Ray Hanna Obituary
  5. 5.0 5.1 van Geffen, Tony. Radio Controlled Model World.. May 2006. Page 86
  6. Key Publishing
  7. van Geffen, Tony. May 2006. Pages 86/89
  8. van Geffen, Tony. May 2006. Page 89
  9. Morgan, Eric B. and Edward Shacklady. Spitfire - The Complete History Revised Edition. 2000. ISBN 0-946219-48-6..
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Real Warbirds: The elite of the preservation world - Airworthy WW2 aircraft with genuine combat histories. Supplement to Aeroplane Magazine - June 2005.. Page 10