Largest collection of Spitfires ever under one roof charts story of iconic aircraft: A dozen different versions of the fighter that symbolised Britain’s defiance during World War II go on display at Duxford air museum
- Imperial War Museum Duxford is hosting an exhibition that will feature iconic 12 Spitfires of varying models
- Museum in Cambridgeshire says it is the largest collection of the iconic and popular planes under one roof
- Exhibition, held where the first Spitfire was received during WWII, will celebrate the evolution of its design
- First Spitfire was flown into RAF Duxford in 1938, where it was received by the base’s number 19 Squadron
A dozen Spitfires are to go on display at the place where the first operational squadron of the planes flew from.
The 12 aircraft, of varying marks, will go on show at IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire as part of the museum’s exhibition – Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon.
Curators said they were able to bring the 12 planes together thanks to a number of private owners who loaned their Spitfires to the museum for the duration of the exhibition.
The first Spitfire was flown into RAF Duxford in 1938, where it was received by the base’s number 19 Squadron.
The museum says it still has the largest range of different airworthy Spitfire marks anywhere in the world. It said the new exhibition, in its AirSpace hall, will be the ‘largest exhibition of these historic aircraft’.
Alongside IWM’s own Mk Ia Spitfire, which is one of few remaining airworthy Spitfires to have seen conflict in the Second World War, there will also be Mk V, Mk IX and Mk XIV Spitfires among others.
IWM curator Adrian Kerrison said: ‘The Spitfire became synonymous with hope and protection as the threat of German invasion loomed heavy over Britain.
‘The aircraft captured the hearts of the home front to such an extent that members of the public from across Britain and the Commonwealth would dig deep into their own pockets to fund their production, and the love for them has not subsided since they were first produced.
‘It’s a great honour for us at IWM Duxford to know that we were not only the location from which the first operational Spitfire squadron flew, but that now we can bring together so many of them in one place for the first time and enable visitors to get up close and learn more about this icon of victory.’
Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon will be open to visitors to IWM Duxford from December 27.
A dozen Spitfires are to go on display at the Duxford Air Museum – where the first operational squadron of the planes flew from. Pictured: (front to back) Spitfire FR Mk XIVe MV293, Mk XIVe RN201, PR Mk XI PL983, Spitfire T Mk IX PV202
Pictured (clockwise): Spitfire N3200, AR213, BM597, EP120, JG891, MH434, MV194, PT462, PL983, RN201, MV293, PK624
Alongside their own Mk Ia Spitfire, which is one of few remaining airworthy Spitfires to have seen conflict in the Second World War, there will also be Mk V, Mk IX and Mk XIV Spitfires among others. Pictured: the Mk XIVe MV293 (L) Mk XIVe RN201 (R)
The museum has gathered the largest collection of Spitfires under one roof since the war. Pictured: Spitfire MKVB EP120
The very first Spitfire was flown into RAF Duxford in 1938, where it was received by the airbase’s number 19 Squadron
The museum says it still has the largest range of different Spitfire marks anywhere in the world. Pictured: Mk XIVe RN201
Curators said they were able to bring the planes together thanks to private owners who loaned Spitfires to the museum
RAF Duxford was the base for the first operational squadron of the planes back in the Second World War and its museum will host the special exhibition for visitors from December 27. Pictured (foreground): Spitfire MK VC JG891
The twelve iconic aircraft, of varying marks and the largest collection under one roof, will go on show at IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire as part of the museum’s exhibition – Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon, open to visitors from December 27
The Spitfire: One of Britain’s most iconic aircraft
The Spitfire is one of the most iconic aircraft in British military history. It is a single-seat fighter plane that was used by the Royal Airforce and other Allied countries before, during and after the Second World War.
According to IWM Duxford, the plane is characterised by its graceful curves, elliptical wings and the sound of its powerful Rolls Royce engine and it has remained a British icon since its heroic efforts in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
It was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft and had a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters including the Hurricane thanks to its wing design.
During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was perceived by the public as the main fighter of the RAF, despite being lower in number than the Hurricane.
Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of the former’s superior performance.
Because of this, the Spitfires were usually the ones tasked with engaging Luftwaffe fighters during the Battle of Britain, often going up against the Germans’ Messerschmitt Bf 109E-series aircraft which were a close match.
Pictured: Supermarine Spitfire MkI fighter planes with the wooden, two-blade, fixed-pitch propeller of No 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force Fighter Command wait in line for a training exercise on May 4, 1939, at RAF Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire
The first Spitfire to enter operation service was the first Mk Is K9789, which entered service with 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford in August 1938.
They gained legendary status during the Battle of Britain when they were largely tasked to take down German fighters while the slower Hurricanes were used to destroy the bombers.
During their lifespan, there were 24 marks of Spitfire and many sub-variants. These covered the Spitfire in development from the Merlin to Griffon engines, the high-speed photo-reconnaissance variants and the different wing configurations.
More Spitfire Mk Vs were built than any other type, with 6,487 in total, followed by the 5,656 Mk IXs.
It is understood there are only 54 Spitfires that are in airworthy condition around the world. The oldest surviving Spitfire is a Mark 1, serial number K9942 and it is preserved at the RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire.
This was the 155th built and first flew in April 1939. It flew operationally with the No. 72 Squadron RAF until June 1940.
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