The aircraft had taken off from Woodchurch, an airstrip southwest of Ashford, and was heading for Biggin Hill Airport. In the cruise at about 1,200 ft agl the pilot set 2,000 engine rpm and a boost of +1. About 30 seconds later he sensed a reduction in power but a check of all the engine gauges and controls did not reveal any abnormalities. He advanced the throttle but this resulted in a series of misfires and backfires, so he decided to return to Woodchurch, finding that the engine would only run smoothly at idle – any attempt to increase throttle resulted in it misfiring or cutting completely.
The pilot realised that he would not make the airfield, so trimmed for best glide speed of 85-90 kt and selected the largest suitable field for a wheels-up forced landing. This was successful but the soft stubble surface appeared to allow the underwing radiators to dig into the soil and the resulting drag detached the left wing at its root.
Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd Spitfire T9, D-FMKN 01-16
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Published 14 January 2016