History of Spitfire MK XVI SL721

Built in 1945 (although originally ordered as a Mk 21) it was initially delivered into storage at 6 MU in August.


Most British Air Marshals are allowed their own private air transport. In 1946, Air Vice Marshal Sir James M. Robb took delivery of Spitfire XVI, serial number SL721. AVM Robb had the Spitfire painted a special shade of light blue, and used the airplane from 1946-48. It was sent to a Maintenance Unit following his transfer. In 1949, he took another active command, and sought out his Spitfire, which was still in the Maintenance Unit. The airplane was used by AVM Robb until 1951, when it was again sent to a maintenance unit. The airplane was one of the most distinctive Spitfires flying in England, with its one-off paint scheme and personal markings of its pilot.  

Sold to private hands in 1954, it has lived on a garage forecourt, in the hands of the Beaulieu Motor Museum. In the 1960s, it made its way to the collection of early warbird restorer Doug Arnold, though nothing was done with the airframe other than to store it indoors - an improvement, since it had been stored outside before this and was quite weathered.

Spitfire SL721 Bill RossIn the early 1970s, Arnold sold the Spitfire to and American collector, Bill Ross of Chicago were the Spitfire was restored and painted in Battle of Britain colors with the initials JMR ( Won best of show at Oshkosh 1970)









Sold to Woodson K Woods in 1977 were it was rebuilt again and painted RAF camouflage with Woodson's initials WKW.

Spitfire SL721 Chris Woods1999 son Chris Woods restored SL721 to the way it was when flown by Air Vice Marshal Sir James M. Robb in 1949. ( Light blue with initials JMR )









Sold to Michael Potter of Ottawa in 2000.


1944 Spitfire AUJ2003 Michael Potter contacted Spitfire historian Bob Swaddling to oversee the repainting of SL721 at Sky Harbour in Goderich Ontario. Through Bob's research they decided to have it repainted to represent No. 421 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force camouflage as AU*J which represents an aircraft flown by Flight-Lt. William Harper of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Canadian. The original AU*J (TB886) was named Dorothy II but Potter elected to replace this with 421's adopted logo - the Indian head motif of the McColl'Frontenac oil Company which was applied to most of the squadron's Spitfires. TB886 was the first low-back Mk. XVI to fly with the squadron and Harper had always wanted the logo applied to his Spitfire but the supply of decals had run out. Flight-Lt. Harper flew the first Canadian Mk XVI  bubble canopy Spitfire used in action during the war.

Spitfire Sl721 AUJ 2005


Jerry Billing has numerous hours in SL721 for the various North American owners either it be in ferrying SL721 across North America to acrobatic displays. In 2003 Jerry spent 3 days with Mr. Potter giving him Spitfire operation pointers that you wont find in any manuals.