Archive for December, 2021

Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Duxford Spitfires

The Imperial War Museum based at the historic Duxford airfield will play host to a brand new exhibition featuring the largest collection of Supermarine Spitfires under one roof in modern times. Duxford is often referred to as “the home of the spitfire”, it was the base from which the first RAF squadron received the aircraft in 1938. Today the museum still boasts the largest range of different Spitfire marks anywhere in the world and, from 27 December 2021 until 20 February 2022, Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon will present the largest exhibition of these historic aircraft. Bringing together 12 Spitfires of varying marks together in IWM Duxford’s AirSpace hall, the exhibition – free with entry to the museum – will demonstrate how the iconic warbird evolved throughout the Second World War.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of tours, talks, events and family activities which will delve deeper into the Spitfire’s history. Characterised by its graceful curves, elliptical wings and powerful Rolls Royce engine, the Spitfire has remained a British icon since its heroic efforts in the Battle of Britain in 1940. A familiar site across the skies over Duxford, Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon will see 12 Spitfires brought together to show how this aircraft underwent continual refinement in order to keep pace with German aircraft development.

Alongside IWM’s own iconic Mk Ia Spitfire – 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 among the most noteworthy. Visitors will also find information about each aircraft and how the Spitfire cemented its place in history as one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time. The full list of the 12 spitfires is:

1. Spitfire Mk I N3200
2. Spitfire Mk I AR213
3. Spitfire Mk Vb BM597
4. Spitfire LF Mk Vb EP120
5. Spitfire Mk Vc JG891
6. Spitfire Mk IXb MH434
7. Spitfire Mk VIIIc MV194
8. Spitfire T Mk IX PV202 or PT462 (depending on flying/conservation needs)
9. Spitfire PR Mk XI PL983
10. Spitfire Mk XIVe RN201
11. Spitfire FR Mk XIVe MV293
12. Spitfire Mk 22 PK624 (undergoing restoration)

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to several private owners who have loaned their Spitfire to IWM for the duration of the exhibit. 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 general admission visitors to IWM Duxford from 27 December 2021 with associated events and activities taking place for the duration of the exhibition, enabling visitors to learn more about this legend of the skies.

Family Activities
New for winter 2021, Spitfire Engineers will give families the chance to complete activities and learn about the design of the Spitfire, its engineering principles, and the forces of flight. From wing design to fuel consumption, find out more from IWM’s knowledgeable team and take part in hands on challenges to discover how the Spitfire became a force to be reckoned with in the skies.

 Tours and Talks
Twice a week for the duration of the exhibition expert guides will be running an Evolution of an Icon: The Spitfire Exhibition Tour. Priced at £10, this 60-minute in-depth tour will offer the chance to discover more about the development of the Spitfire and look at examples highlighting the evolution of this historic machine whilst getting up close to displayed aircraft. On Wednesday 29 December there will also be the chance to delve into the Spitfire’s history from the comfort of your own home with the one-off Introduction to an Icon which will use IWM’s extensive photo archive to introduce the history and development of the Spitfire and look at the tied history between Duxford and this famous aircraft.

In-the Cockpit Experiences
For just £45 visitors will also be able to Join an expert guide and sit inside the cockpit of the airworthy Mk 1 Spitfire N3200, which flew with 19 Squadron from Duxford. Guests will first explore the history and restoration of the aircraft, followed by 15 minutes inside the cockpit, complete with photo opportunities, learning the controls and immersing themselves in the conditions experienced by those who flew them.

Airfix Event
On 9 January 2022 the museum will host an all-day event explores the design process behind Airfix’s iconic modelling kits. Airfix Product Designers will discuss the research, design and production methods they use, and an IWM expert will take visitors behind the ropes of Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon and observe the intricate details of the aircraft up close. Tickets for this event will be £35 and can be booked via the IWM website.

ON 19th February 2022 the museum will host a unique evening photoshoot; ‘Duxford in a Different Light’, following the first successful night photography event in 2020. All twelve Spitfires gathered for the exhibition will be lit by white and coloured lights throughout the evening and complete re-enactors from living history groups. Tickets cost £75 and include admission to the site from 3:30pm.

(article by Lee Chapman)

Pre-Christmas News For Newark Air Museum

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Vulcan bomber at Newark Air Museum

An agreement has been reached between Newark Air Museum (NAM) and the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association (LLA), that has resulted in the ownership of the Avro Shackleton, WR977 and the Avro Vulcan, XM594 being immediately transferred to NAM.

Both aircraft have been on long-term loan at the NAM site in eastern Nottinghamshire since they were first acquired; back in 1977 for the Shackleton and 1983 for the Vulcan. In recent years the LLA has been the owner of both aircraft and they have provided financial support for recent restoration and repainting work on both aircraft.

The legal papers pertaining to these transfers were signed on December 15th, 2021, thereby helping to secure the long-term future of these two hugely popular exhibits at NAM. An official handover ceremony will be hosted at the museum in early 2022. Conservation surveys have been carried out on both aircraft and the museum volunteers will be undertaking major restoration work on both of their ‘new exhibits’ in the coming months.

Speaking on behalf of NAM, museum trustee, Howard Heeley commented, “Everyone at the museum is extremely grateful to the Chairman and the Committee of the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, who have generously agreed to the legal ownership of these aircraft being transferred to us.

The Shackleton and Vulcan are both special aircraft, which museum members helped to save back in 1977 and 1983 respectively. We are really honoured to now have sole responsibility for their future care.”

He concluded, “Whilst we have some significant challenges ahead with regards to safeguarding these aircraft, we are sure that both the museum members and the general public will help us look after these aircraft for the benefit of future generations.”

Ray Bainborough, Chairman of the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, said, “I am delighted that the Newark Air Museum is taking over the ownership of these two historic aircraft. It has been a privilege for the LLA to have been their owners over the past years, but the time has come for the museum to be both the location for the Shackleton and the Vulcan, and also the legal owner of the two aircraft. This makes sense from a practical point of view and will better ensure the two aircraft continue to be preserved in the years ahead.”

Although there is a change of ownership of the Shackleton and Vulcan, from the LLA to the NAM, visitors to the museum will not notice any changes as the two aircraft will remain at their current location.