Arguably the most famous British fighter aircraft in history, the Spitfire, also called Supermarine Spitfire, was the most widely produced and strategically important British single-seat fighter of World War Two. Over 22,000 Supermarine Spitfires were built during the course of the Second World War.
The iconic fighter aircraft won immortal fame during the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks, proving an overwhelming match for the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt 109's during the Battle of Britain.
The original prototype, designed by engineer Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, 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.
In this video, History Hit presenter Luke Tomes visits the Battle of Britain Airshow at Imperial War Museums Duxford to learn about the battle that cemented the Spitfire’s place in history, the pilots who flew in them during the Second World War, and why it occupies such a special place in British hearts to this day…
At the airshow Luke speaks to senior curator Adrian Kerrison, comparing the Spitfire and Hurricane's performances retrospectively during the Battle of Britain before meeting Spirit of Britain reenactor Jamie Delaney to learn more about the lives of Spitfire pilots and what clothing and equipment they would have worn. Finally, Luke converses with Director of the Aircraft Restoration Company and one of the pilots flying at the airshow, John Romain MBE, about the process of training to become a Spitfire pilot and the unique characteristics of the aircraft that made it so iconic.