Painting Donation – SAAF Spitfire MkIXe AX-K 5553





Image by Jens Schmidtgen

Image by Jens Schmidtgen


SAAF Spitfire Mk-IXe AX-K 5553 is a WW2 period fighter aircraft built in the May 1945, the last month of the war. She crashed while at a show at Swartkop Air Force Base on 15th April 2000 and has been in storage ever since.

The Friends of the SAAF Museum, Swartkops AB are proposing to restore the aircraft to either a static display or to airworthiness depending on the availability of funds.

Don Bell, an aviation artist and Friend of the PE SAAF Museum, has offered to produce a large oil painting of the Spitfire to use for the abovementioned fund raising towards the project.



Don was born in Queenstown in 1948 and moved to Port Elizabeth in 1954 at the age of six.

He went to Herbert Hurd junior School and up to Standard eight at Alexander Road high School. He then matriculated in art at the Port Elizabeth College.

After working in architectural firms until 1976 he had a short stint in a building Co. until opening his own architectural and advertising design studio in 1978.


Don was private tutored in oil paints and water colours by Andre’ Vancoillie and Paul Lavender respectively during his teen years.


He has done countless commercial art illustrations for blue chip corporations and architectural firms and started serious oil painting and pencil illustrating in 1990.

Don’s works have been displayed at many art galleries, shows and exhibitions countrywide and sells to customers all over the world.


Although aircraft have been a passion for him. He only started painting and drawing these in 2010 when he opening his aviation art gallery in the PE SAAF Museum.


Don donates a portion of sales made from this gallery to the Museum.


Tel: 27-41-3673999

Mobile: 27 82 691 8755



The oil painting is 1500 x 900mm on canvas.



The last person to fly the aircraft was Col. Neil Thomas.



It is planned to hand-over the painting to the Pretoria Friends at the PE Air Show on 25th October this 2014 if circumstances allow it.

We also hope to showcase the work at the Africa Aerospace and Defence Trade Show and Air Show 2014, (AAD 2014) at air force base Waterkloof, city of Tshwane, Centurion, South Africa in September 2014.



In order to raise substantial funds for the Spitfire restoration, we will be reproducing the following for sale to the public:


o   Signed limited edition canvas prints.

o   Signed limited edition paper prints.

o   Posters.

o   Special edition postcard packs.

o   DVD packs.


(Printed on Satin Finish Cotton Canvas and Rolled in a tube & sealed ready for postage)
Face Size – 500x300mm R 170.00
Face Size – 700x500mm R 290.00
Face Size – 1000x600mm R 440.00
Face Size – 1500x900mm
(same size as the original oil painting)
R 890.00
Canvas + Stretcher Frame Options
(Printed on Satin Finish Cotton Canvas and Stretched or Stretch Components Supplied and in a package and sealed ready for postage)
Face Size – 500x300mm R 260.00
Face Size – 700x420mm R 430.00
Face Size – 1000x600mm R 640.00
Face Size – 1500x900mm
(same size as the original oil painting)
R 1,390.00
Paper Posters
Printed on 200gsm HP Photo Realistic Satin Paper. – rolled in a tube and sealed and ready for postage)
Paper Size – 297X189  (Face size 267×160) R 50.00
Face Size – 500x300mm R 70.00
Face Size – 700x420mm R 140.00
Face Size – 1000x600mm R 220.00
Face Size – 1500x900mm
(same size as the original oil painting)
R 430.00
Postage and Insurance Estimates
Estimate for Post Office counter to counter for the canvas prints in tubes at approx. R150.00
Estimate for paper posters in tubes Post Office counter to counter at about R80.00
Postage and/or delivery in Port Elizabeth are excluded.
Please make arrangements to collect from Don Bell
Estimate for Post Office counter to counter for the canvas prints in tubes at approx. R180.00
Estimate for paper posters in tubes Post Office counter to counter at approx R150.00
Quotations for the above postage will be issued for acceptance before sending.
All prices include vat.  
Payment Conditions
A final price will be issued to the purchaser for approval once we have a mailing address and then payment directly into our PE SAAF Museum bank account will be required on receipt of invoice and prior to posting the goods.
Prices may vary depending on paper / canvas/ stretcher frame availability.
Note: The paper or canvas sizes may differ slightly from the advertised sizes due to availability of stocks.
Issued by Don Bell  
9 Belvedere Place, Lorraine, Port Elizabeth, 6070, South Africa
Tel: 27-(0)41-3673999  
Cell: 27 (0)82 691 8755  




SAAF Supermarine Spitfire MK-IXe AX-K 5553 – now 5518


Serial #: TE213
Construction #:   CBAF.11274
Civil Registration:   None

Model:   Spitfire Mk. IXe
Name: None
Status: Restoration
Last info: 2001


Delivered to SAAF as 5518.
BOC: August 1945.
SOC: April 7, 1954
Displayed at Waterkloof AB, 1954-1985.
Mounted on pole as 5518 (later W5851, & later still W5518).
SAAF Museum, Lanseria AB, Johannesburg, March 29, 1979-1995.
Restored to airworthy, 1987-1995.
SAAF Historic Flight, Swartkop AB, South Africa, 1995-2002.
First flight, October 5, 1995.
Flew as SAAF 5553/AX-K (later 5518/AX-K).
Destroyed in non-fatal crash, Swartkop AB, April 15, 2000.
Under restoration to airworthy.


Aircraft Details:

TE213 was the 5556th Mk IX built, rolling out of Castle Bromwich in May 1945. On arrival in South Africa in August 1947, she was allocated the number 5518. After an eventful career which included a collision with another Spitfire and a drogue cable, she was taken out of service in 1954. In 1955 a decision was taken to erect a gate guard at AFB Waterkloof and 5518 was given a chance at surviving being scrapped.


She was thus displayed on pole at Waterkloof from 1954 to 1985 as 5518, W5851, and W5518.

In 1985 she was accorded her true value and removed from the pylons and taken to the SAAF Museum at Lanseria airport near Johannesburg for restoration to airworthy condition. The restoration was performed by Atlas Aircraft Corporation with sponsored by Reutech. First flight was in October 1995, painted as 5553 / AX-K, named Spirit of Reutech.


At the SAAF Museum Flying Day at Swartkops, Pretoria on 15 April 2000, she suffered an engine malfunction. The pilot, Lt-Col Neil Thomas (OC SAAF Museum), escaped with minor injuries during an emergency forced landing.


The airframe has been stored and it is expected she will be once again restored.


The SAAF Museum Spitfire was a Mk-IX e. Most would call it a Mk XVI, but in this case, she did not have the Packard built engine, but was a Merlin engined aircraft, and as such was a rare Mk-IX, with the bubble canopy and clipped tips. She was one of 134 Spitfires, gifted to the SAAF after European operations ended, in World War Two.

Granted, the clipped tips do detract from the elliptical beauty of the wing shape, but they do allow for an impressive roll rate, at low level. The view from the bubble canopy is also vastly better than the conventional canopy, so wartime test pilots reported.


K-AX 553 2