Second World War fighter plane restored to full glory

A Second World War fighter plane - the only complete one of its kind - is now on display in its full glory after being reassembled.

The Boulton Paul Defiant Mk 1 at RAF Cosford
The Boulton Paul Defiant Mk 1 at RAF Cosford

The Boulton Paul Defiant Mk 1 arrived at RAF Cosford in December 2016. It was accessible to visitors from March but had until now remained incomplete.

Its assembly has now been finished and the two-seat turret fighter is parked proudly in the museum's ‘War in the Air’ hangar alongside a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

The fighter's arrival at RAF Cosford was something of a homecoming with the plane having been built by Boulton Paul at its Pendeford factory in Wolverhampton in 1938.

The Defiant was in the skies during the Battle of Britain period but found its niche as a night fighter from 1940 to 1942.

They were used extensively later on in the war for air-sea rescue and target tug roles in the UK and Middle and Far East.

The museum’s model, serial number N1671, was operated by the newly-formed No 307 (Polish) Squadron RAF, and had its first operational flight in December 1940.

It was painted in its all black night fighter colour scheme the following January and in June 1941 had to be repaired after swinging off a runway in Somerset.

In October 1941 the aircraft was transferred to No 153 Squadron in Northern Ireland. It took to the air once with the squadron, its final operational flight.

In total it had amounted 13 hours and 35 minutes of flight-time in 15 sorties.

In June 1942 it was transferred again to No 285 (Anti-aircraft Co-Operation) Squadron where it was used for simulated attacks to exercise anti-aircraft defences.

The Defiant was originally set aside for preservation in 1944 and spent several years moving between RAF bases for display.

It was eventually acquired by the RAF museum in 1971 and after almost four decades on display at the museum’s London site, the aircraft was completely restored by Medway Aircraft Preservation Society at Rochester Airport in 2009, going back on display at the museum in 2012.

The RAF Museum at Cosford will be open throughout the Christmas period from 10am to 4pm, excluding December 24-26 and January 1. Entry is free.

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