A full house of members and friends attended the April talk at the Boniface Centre, given by Martin Phillips from Langford, who spoke about the mammoth task of restoring a WWII Spitfire. Martin explained that the adventure began at a birthday celebration when friends presented him with a large box containing a single rivet reputed to be from a Spitfire, and challenged him to find the rest.
An adventure that was to last more than ten years then began, and the first major find was the fuselage from a Mark IX Spitfire RR232 that was found in West Sussex. Martin’s search for elusive and rare parts took him all over the world, although one wing came from an aircraft that crashed at Exeter airport and lay undiscovered for decades.
Years of painstaking work followed, during which Martin acquired many more Spitfire parts than he strictly needed, including several Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. He brought along a number of parts, including a 20mm cannon and a seat made from cardboard and resin!
The Spitfire’s final assembly took place at Filton near Bristol and its first flight was watched by crowds of Filton employees and workers in nearby offices.
Martin has now embarked on his next project – the restoration of a two-seat Spitfire - and whilst a good deal of work has been completed – finances have dried up. He might be encouraged by the auction of a similar aircraft in 2009, sold by Bonhams for more than £1.5M!
During WWII Spitfires cost about £5,000 to build, and more than fifteen hundred as well as other types of aircraft were purchased by wealthy individuals, and collections made by villages, towns and organisations. These were known as Ceremonial Aircraft. CAHMS has some evidence that there may have been a “Crediton Spitfire”. Does anyone out there have any more information? If so do let us know
RR232 is a fine example of the iconic Spitfire and thanks are due to Martin for a most interesting talk and film.