Spitfire Mk PR XXII
The Mk 22 Spitfire was about as sophisticated as the post-war Spitfires were to get. It differed from the final variant, the Mk24, in only minor respects, but used the same massive Griffon engine delivering well over 2,200hp and which dictated the enlarged tail control surfaces introduced with the Mk 21, and the redesigned high loading wings which were also first seen on the 21.
PK624 was built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, near Birmingham, in the UK during 1945. She was given the constructors number CBAF189 and, on completion, was allocated to No33 MU who were based at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, on the 12th of December '45.
The aircraft was to spend the first year of her existence in storage with 33MU, not being transferred to the Vickers Armstrongs South Marston works for modification work until the 5th of December the following year.
Details of the work carried out are not available at the moment, but the machine remained with Vickers until the 29th of May 1947 before passing back into storage, this time with No 6 MU at RAF Brize Norton who recorded her arrival seven days after the completion of the mods at South Marston.
PK624 was to remain in storage with 6MU for a total of fourteen months before an allocation to No 614 (County of Glamorgan) RAuxAF Squadron took her to RAF Llandow in Wales, where she arrived on the 25th of August, 1948.
Her duties, as yet unknown, with 614 sqn lasted for over two years, until she was removed from operational service and again placed in storage with her previous allocation, No 6 MU at RAF Brize Norton, where she arrived on the 31st of October 1950.
Her stay was to be a short one this time as she staged through 9 MU at RAF Cosford before being recorded as being with Air Service Training (AST) at Gatwick from the 17th of January 1951 under a Vickers refurbishment contract which could have seen her become one of the number of Mk22 Spitfires to pass to the Syrian military authorities at about this time.
The refurbishment work was completed, the sale to Syria was not, and PK624 found her way back to No 9 MU at RAF Cosford, arriving there on the 24th of July 1952.
Her days with the RAF were numbered however, when the aircraft was declared non-effective on the 16th of June 1953, and then sold back to Vickers Armstrongs on the 4th of February 1954.
Quite what Vickers did with the aircraft after buying her back from the RAF isn't clear, but it was to be early 1957 before she re-appeared again, this time on the strength of the Station Flight at RAF North Weald, home of No 604 RAuxAF squadron.
It is likely that she was privately owned by a member of 604 Sqn at this time and that she was operating unofficially in military markings. When 604 Sqn were disbanded in November of 1964, the aircraft, without its Griffon engine, was displayed on the gate of the station for a time.
The Mk. 22 was identical to the Mk. 21 in all respects except for the fitting of a cut-back rear fuselage and tear-drop canopy. In previous marks these changes had not warranted a new mark designation. A total of 272 Mk. 22s were built.
The Mk. 22 was used by only one regular RAF unit,in the Middle East. However twelve squadrons of the used the variant and continued to do so until March 1951.
The Mk. 23 was to be a Mk. 22 incorporating a revised wing design originally created for the Supermarine Spiteful. However when trialled on a Mk. VIII the new wing gave less than perfect handling characteristics and so the Mk. 23 was never built.
The final Spitfire variant, the Mk. 24 was similar to the Mk. 22. It carried extra fuel, and had wing fittings for rocket projectiles. Some were built with shorter-barrelled Mark V Hispano cannon.
A total of 81 Mk. 24s were completed, 27 of which were conversions from Mk. 22s. The last Mk. 24 to be built was delivered in February 1948. They were used by only one RAF squadron, , until 1952. Some of the squadron's aircraft went to the where they were operated until 1955.