The Spitfire is the most famous British fighter aircraft in history. It won immortal fame during the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain.
The prototype made its first flight four years earlier as Britain’s industry geared up to re-arm against the threat from Nazi Germany. From the beginning pilots recognised it as a thoroughbred combining a perfection of design with superb handling characteristics.
No.19 Squadron put this eight-gun fighter into service in August 1938 and by the outbreak of war, a year later, nine squadrons were equipped. Production rapidly built up and by July 1940 there were nineteen Spitfire I squadrons available. Although Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires throughout the Battle of Britain, it was the Spitfire which captured the imagination of the British public and enemy alike.
Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to this aircraft was made at the height of the Battle of Britain by a German ace, who in a moment of anger and frustration, turned to his Commander in Chief and demanded a squadron of Spitfires!
1566 Spitfire Is were built and this machine is the oldest surviving example of its type.