Spitfire X4009’s first flight took place on 24th July 1940 and the Spitfire was then flown to RAF No37 Maintenance Unit on July 28 1940 and on August 18 1940 she was issued to No 234 Squadron RAF. On September 7 1940 the aircraft crashed after an engagement with a Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 South East of London with F/Lt P C Hughes killed after bailing out of the aircraft. The Spitfire was officially struck off RAF charge on 30th September 1940.
Spitfire X4009 is generally thought to have collided with wreckage from the crippled German bomber, rendering the Spitfire uncontrollable. It is also possible that Hughes accidentally rammed his target. Further speculation suggested that he was the victim of friendly fire from another British fighter attacking the same Dornier, or was struck by German bullets from a Bf 109. Some observers on the ground, including collier Charles Hall, maintained that Hughes rammed the Dornier on purpose. Whatever the case, Hughes bailed out of his faithful X4009 however his parachute did not open and he died as a result. The aircraft fell in a field at Sundridge, Kent, UK.
He was the driving force in the achievements of 234 Squadron RAF and he lies at rest in St. James Church Yard, Sutton in Holderness, Hull, UK. A stone monument dedicated to 39461 Flight Lieut. Paterson Clarence Hughes D.F.C. is located in Kiama NSW.
Many years later the wreckage of the Spitfire was excavated and various components recovered and placed on display at various museums in the UK whilst other fragments were held in private collections.
There has been somewhat of resurgence in the restoration of airworthy Mk1 Spitfire aircraft has witnessed the 4 airworthy Mk1 Spitfires flying at Duxford UK at a number of Airshows. This activity has meant that the tooling and components are now available to allow for more restorations and this will assist the rebuild of Spitfire X4009 in Australia immensely.
The aircraft will be known as The Pat Hughes Flying Memorial. Hunter Fighter Collection Incorporated is located at Scone NSW and is a registered Charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and has ATO deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.
A Donation of $2 or more to Hunter Fighter Collection Incorporated is Tax Deductible in Australia.