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EAA, Museum Of Flight Trade WWII Fighters

April 14, 2004 - A significant, temporary "swap" took place recently between the EAA AirVenture Museum and Seattle's Museum of Flight, with the blessing of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Late last week a flatbed trailer arrived in Oshkosh containing MoF's Supermarine Spitfire MkIX, which saw action in World War II. In return, the Seattle museum gets the last known remaining Nakajima Ki-43IIb "Haybusa" (Peregrine Falcon) Japanese fighter, which EAA has displayed since the 1960s-both at Hales Corners and Oshkosh.

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum acquired the rare Japanese aircraft, codenamed OSCAR by U.S. Intelligence, in December 1959 and loaned it to EAA. In turn, EAA members, as well as Wisconsin Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserve volunteers then performed an extensive exterior restoration on the airplane.

D-Day Display Planned

EAA aircraft maintenance staff at Kermit Weeks Flight Research Center are busy reassembling the Spitfire for a special D-Day 60th anniversary exhibit set to open in the Eagle Hangar on June 4-6. The aircraft (serial number MJ772, FAA registration No. N8R) will then be the centerpiece of an exclusive Spitfire exhibit.


The EAA AirVenture Museum took delivery of a Supermarine Spitfire MkIX, on temporary loan from the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Manufactured in late 1943, MJ772 flew under command of the Free French during the June 1944 Normandy invasion. After the war it was converted to a two-place trainer for the Irish Air Force and then retired from service in 1960 with 1,402 hours of flight time.

During 1968, the Spitfire participated in the filming of the movie The Battle of Britain, along with the Spanish-built Messerschmitt 109 that currently resides in the EAA collection. In 1980, it was restored back to its original single-seat fighter configuration with RAF markings.

"Since this airplane did fly on D-Day in defense of the Normandy Invasion, it is very fitting that we will unveil it to the public as a part of our D-Day celebration weekend June 4-6," said EAA Museum Director Adam Smith. "We're really pleased to have it. It's one of the great names in aviation history, certainly one of the most beautiful airplanes ever built."

WWII Gallery Addition

The Nakajima Ki-43Iib will be displayed in the MoF's World War II gallery on a simulated, crushed coral runway. Display panels will share the stories of Pearl Harbor, Japan's incursions into China, and the Doolittle's Raiders story.

Bound for the Seattle Museum of Flight: NASM's Japanese fighter Nakajima Ki-43IIb, which EAA has had on display since the 1960s.


This type was considered very formidable, especially in the early war. Lighter than a Zero, it was nimble and fast. The Japanese named the airplane "Hayabusa" for its speed and grace. Along with the Zero, Nakajima Ki-43IIb formed the backbone of Japan's Fighter Command at the time of Pearl Harbor and well into 1944.

The "swap" arrangement is in place for a period of two years, allowing both museums to display a new and rare type of aircraft.

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