Corgi AA39214 RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Ia Fighter - 'QV', RAF No.19 Squadron, Dunkirk Evacuation, May 1940 (1:72 Scale)
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, commenting on the British airmen in the Battle of Britain
The Spitfire is the most famous British aircraft of all time. Although less numerous than the Hawker Hurricane, it is remembered as the sleek, thoroughbred fighting machine that turned the tide during the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire was among the fastest and most maneuverable prop-driven fighters of World War II, serving in virtually every combat theater.
Supermarine designer Reginald Mitchell created this small, graceful, elliptical-wing fighter with eight guns in the wings that were able to fire without being hindered by the propeller. The immortal Spitfire thus became not merely one of the best-performing fighters of all time, but also one of the best-looking. Although never employed as a long-range escort, the Spitfire was a champion in an air-to-air duel. Spitfires routinely dived at the speed of sound, faster than any of the German jets.
A carrier-based version, called the Seafire, was a winner in its own right, serving valiantly on convoy routes during World War II. The Seafire 47 was even used in the early stages of the Korean War, before it was replaced by more modern jet aircraft.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I fighter that was attached to No.19 Squadron, then involved in the Dunkirk Evacuation during May 1940.
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Historical Account: "Dynamo" - Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1a N3200 was constructed at the Vickers Armstrong works at Eastleigh, near Southampton during 1939 and delivered to RAF No.19 Squadron at Duxford in April the following year. Wearing the codes QV and the distinctive black and white underside recognition markings synonymous with RAF fighters of the day, the aircraft embarked on its first operational sortie from Duxford on May 27th, 1940, in the hands of Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson, as part of the significant RAF response to the emergency situation at Dunkirk and the evacuation of the stranded British Expeditionary Force. During a day of savage dogfighting, Stephenson managed to down a Luftwaffe Stuka, before his Spitfire sustained damage to its engine, causing it to seize almost immediately.
He managed to successfully land his aircraft on a beach at Sangatte, to the west of Calais and was able to exit the downed fighter without sustaining injury but was captured by German forces. The Spitfire lay damaged and partly buried in the sand and became something of an attraction for German troops stationed in the area, with many posing for pictures with the vanquished British fighter. The Spitfire disappeared beneath the shifting sands, but not before she had been stripped of many parts by souvenir hunters. The notoriously shifting sands on the beach at Sangatte held on to their wartime Spitfire secret for many years after the end of WWII, lost from sight and just a distant memory for those who were aware of its story. Following a particularly violent storm in 1986, the parts of the Spitfire wreckage became visible once more, attracting plenty of local interest and resulting in plans being drawn up for a recovery operation. Later that same year, the remains of Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1a N3200 were removed from the beach and displayed in a French military museum, as recovered, where it would remain for the next ten years.
Attracted by the provenance of this famous Spitfire and having seen wartime photographs of it lying in a forlorn state on the beach at Sangatte, it was acquired by a UK based group in 2000 and earmarked for restoration. Once returned to the UK, this complex and lengthy restoration would be placed in the capable hands of Historic Flying Limited and in March 2014, marking the end of an ambitious 14 year project, Spitfire N3200 took to the skies once more. To add even more significance to this occasion, her first post restoration flight took place at Duxford airfield, the same airfield it had operated from some 74 years earlier, whilst embarking on its first fateful combat mission.