Yesterday I was watching an interesting video about World War II planes that participated in an air show in the United States.
The flight took place at the Michigan Airshow at Willow Run Airport near Detroit. Images show a German Focke-Wulf FW 190 and Messerschmitt Bf-109, a British Spitfire and an American P-51 Mustang:
It caught my attention to see an original Bf-109G, since there are very few left. You can see below these lines a capture of the video in which this aircraft is observed, showing off the appearance of the Messerschmitt Bf-109G6R3 piloted by the German ace Hermann Graf, with a peculiar white tail.
I was surprised when I looked up the registration data for the plane, which has a civil license plate NX90602. And it's actually not an original German Messerschmitt: it's a Hispano Aviación HA-1112-M1L Buchón fighter that belonged to the Spanish Air Force. According to Aerial Visuals, its original Spanish military registration was C.4K-130 and its construction number is 193. It currently belongs to the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum.
In this photo by Aces Flying High we can see what it looked like when it was at the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon with its Rolls Royce Merlin engine original (the same one carried by the British Spitfires). Aces Flying High points out that this was one of the Spanish Buchones used in the 1969 movie "The Battle of Britain." But then, what happened to this plane?
At the Erickson Aircraft Collection website, where they publish these photos of the C.4K-130, they solve the mystery. Indeed, this Buchón was one of the 28 used to shoot the movie "The Battle of Britain". Jack Erickson bought the plane from Connie Edwards in 1989. The problem with shooting historical movies with a Buchón is that it looks very different from a Bf-109, due to its engine and its characteristic air intake under the propeller.
In the Erickson Aircraft Collection it seems that they got down to work to solve that problem. In 2017, the plane was restored to fly with an Allison V-1710 engine, used by famous American fighters such as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and the P-51 Mustang.
The new engine allowed the Buchón to be equipped with an original Bf-109G-10 hood. In addition, the tail of the plane was reconfigured to make it identical to that of the Bf-109G. The result is surprising, of course. Now, at least, it will be possible to shoot World War II movies with a Spanish Buchón without people realizing that it is. For those of us who love the Buchón, the C.4K-130 will continue to be an admirable veteran of the Spanish Air Force.
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