The recovery of the RAF Spitfire LF MkIXe near Wehl
On saturday August 8, 2005 the revovery of a Spitfire LF MkIXe was carried out by ARGA. The ARGA had information regarding a recovery attempt in the 1950's which was unsuccesfull. The Merlin engine was not recovered. How much remained was not clear. This Spitfire crashed on February 8, 1945 probably after being hit by German FLAK at the Groenstraat near the village of Wehl.
The pilot baled out and was taken prisoner according to eyewitness accounts. During the first phase of the recovery it became clear that the groundwaterlevel was becoming a problem! At a depth of 2.5 meters the crane hit the aircraft remains. Shortly after this the Merlin 66 engine was recovered after spending 60 years in Dutch soil. The 1950's recovery proved to be more succesfull than expected. The engine was the only thing left! The engine number was found on the left side of the Merlin. Hopefully this number will be on the aircraftmovementcards of the possible "suspects" for this crash so that the ARGA can identify this Spitfire.
New information regarding identityReceived from the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust:
Our engine, with Merlin no.179431/ A479553 was built in a batch of 500 engines between 10 January and 14 March 1944 at the main Rolls Royce factory at Derby. 179431 itself came off built on 8 March and was despatched on 15 March 1944 to No. 7 MU(Maintenance Unit) at Quedgeley as a spare engine. This means that it was not fitted to an aircraft from new at the factory, but installed to one which had been rebuilt or was in need of an engine change.