March 29, 2023

Mk XVIII: Almost identical in appearance to the Mk XIV, the Mk XVIII incorporated a new wing design, as opposed to the “universal” wing fitted to the interim Mk XIV. Armament remained the ‘E’ wing version. The Mk XVIII carried an additional two vertical cameras over the single oblique installation of the MkXIV and all aircraft had full span wings. Initially the MkXVIII s flew with the Griffon 65 until the Griffon 67 was introduced with an additional 300 hp. Becoming the most powerful Spitfire ever, it will also be remembered as probably the most beautiful. Production totaled 300. Ex RAF serials commenced with NH (shared with Mk XIVe and VIIIe), SM and TP. Since the Mk XVIII arrived in the late 40s, many have survived.

A total of nine ex IAF Mk XVIIIs are on the war bird register today. These are detailed below:

Mk XVIII Survivors

SM 845 – Thisaircraft was taken on charge by the RAF on 28.5.45. Arrived Karachi 11.2.46. Transferred to RIAF Dec 47. Almost certainly served with either 2, 9 or 101 Squadrons. RIAF serial HS687.

Found Kalaikunda and recovered by Historic Flying Limited. Flew after restoration on 7.7.2000, registered G-BUOS. Airworthy.

SpitSM845o.jpg (18297 bytes) SM 845, a Mk FR XVIIIe as discovered at Kalaikunda in 1978. It was recovered by Ormold Haiden-Baille
SM 845, after restoration is now airworthy with Historic Flying in UK. Photo Courtesy : Duncan Cubbit – Key Mags SpitSM845n.jpg (14980 bytes)

SM 969

This aircraft was taken on charge by the RAF on 30.8.45 and arrived in Karachi on 11.2.46.

Loaned to No 6 Squadron RIAF. Thisaircraft crashed on landing at Ranchi on 20.12.46
Backloaded to No 47 MU and sold to RJ Parkes. Re sold to RIAF as HS 877 on 16.7.49. Service history not known. It ended up as a gate guardian at HQ Western Air Command, Delhi in 1972.

Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1978 and was restored as D-A (for Doug Arnold, owner) with registration G-BRAF and flew 12.10.85. Currently in storage but airworthy.

SM 969/HS 877 as seen at the HQ Western Air Command, Delhi in 1972.
SM 969 seen after restoration in 10.85 at Duxford. SpitSM969n.jpg (13840 bytes)

SM 986

Became HS 986, TOC RAF 11.10.45. To 47 MU 8.47. Sold to RJ Parkes for RIAF 6.49.

No 1 BRD IAF until 5.52. Then 14 Squadron 5.52 and back to 1 BRD in 6.54. To IAF museum in 1967 and extant.

SM 986/HS 986 as seen in the IAF Museum in spurious scheme(in olive green and air force blue, the only two colours easily available to the IAF museum). Photo Copyright : Jagan Pillarisetti

TP 263

Became HS649. TOC RAF 2.6.45. Arriving Karachi on 31.1.46. TO RIAF Dec 47. Service history not known. Coded ‘NL’ at one time. Was part of a Haydon-Baillie recovery in 1977 from Kalaikunda. Fuselage sent to UK and wings to USA. Converted to high back and exchanged with National War and Resistance museum, Overloon, Netherlands and marked as NH 649 in lieu of a known RAF serial (at that time).

TP 263/HS 649 as seen at Kalaikunda inside a HAS in 1977. Clearly theaircraft had suffered a ‘nose over’ losing its props and smashing the spinner.The skin under the nose also appears to have been torn off.

TP 276

Became HS 653. TOC RAF 20.6.45 Arrived Karachi 12.2.46.

To RIAF Dec 47. Coded ND at one time. Service history not known. Discovered at Barrackpore in 1977. Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1978 and sold to Rudolf Frasca. Restored and located at Frasca Air Museum, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

TP 276 as discovered at Barrackpore in 1977.

TP 280

Became HS 654. TOC RAF 19.6.45. Arrived Karachi 30.3.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Served 9 Squadron and AFS (India). Discovered in Kalaikunda in 1977. Coded NG at one time. Recovered by Haydon-Baillie in 1977 and sold to Rudolf Frasca. Restored by Historic Flying Limited in 1992 and UK registered G-BTXE. Back to USA registered N280TP and flown as TP280/Z. Located at Frasca Air Museum, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

TP 280/HS 654 as discovered at Kalaikunda in 1977 SpitTP280o.jpg (19658 bytes)
SpitTP280n.jpg (17974 bytes) TP 280/HS 654 as seen today in the markings of 60 Squadron RAF during the ‘Malayan emergency’1950 denoted by the yellow and black stripes. This was the last RAF unit to operate the Spitfire.

TP 298

Became HS 662. TOC RAF 17.7.45 Arrived Karachi 12.2.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Service history not known. Found Kalaikunda in 1977. Recovered Haydon- Baillie 1978. Restored as N41702 and then N93232Z. Fatal crash on 19.4.94. Currently again under restoration.

TP 298/HS 662 as seen at Kalaikunda in 1977.

TP 367

Became HS 674. TOC RAF 22.10.45. Arrived Karachi 31.1.46. To RIAF Dec 47. Coded ‘NB’ at one time. Service history not known. Found IIT Kharagpur in 1979. Initially sold to Jeet Mahal of Vancouver , Canada but export not allowed. Re sold to ‘sandy’, Bedfordshire, UK 17.8.94. Currently with JM Limbeuf Rouen, France.


TZ 219

Became HS 683. TOC RAF 8.12.45 Arriving Karachi 11.2.46. To RIAF 31.12.47. Service history not known. Presented by AVM Harjinder Singh to Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh in the fifties. HS 674 painted on. Believed to be a composite airframe of both HS 674 and HS 683.

Click to Enlarge Supermarine Spitfire XVIII HS-674 at the Punjab Engineering college in Chandigarh More information on this aircraft is at Warbirds of India. Photo Courtesy : India Today.

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