Spitfires: 8 little-known facts

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Obscure facts about the Spitfire that you need to know

1 – Many pilots of the early Spitfires were unfamiliar with the plane’s innovative retractable undercarriage. As a result, many early accidents were due to the pilots forgetting to lower their wheels when landing

2 – The Spitfire was the only plane to be continuously under construction throughout the Second World War.

3 – The small amount of Hurricanes left in flying condition meant that most of the aerial combat scenes in the 1969 film The Battle of Britain were filmed using Spitfires.

4 – Much to the delight of the grounded pilots, some of the Spitfires had modified under-wing mountings which, instead of carrying bombs, would house two small beer barrels.

5 – On Battle of Britain Day, pilot Sergeant Raymond Holmes spotted a German bomber heading for central London. With his Spitfire out of ammo, Holmes heroically decided to ram the bomber, disabling it over Victoria station.

6 – The Spitfires used in The Battle of Britain were so well camouflaged against land and sky that they were almost invisible on camera. The aerial scenes therefore had to be shot with clouds in the background so the planes could be seen.

7 – After the victory of the Battle of Britain, the first patrols over France since its fall in December 1940 were deployed. The patrols were carried out by pairs of Spitfires and were known as ‘Rhubarbs’.

8 – The Spitfire’s maiden flight was on 5 March 1936. It entered service with the RAF in 1938 and remained there until1955. During this time, 20,351 Spitfires were built.

View our image galleries of Spitfires and other World War 2 Aircraft

Spitfire Solitaire - by Mark Bromley
Spitfire Solitaire – by Mark Bromley

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