Duxford rolls out its Spitfires to kickstart 75th anniversary celebration of the iconic fighter

By Max Anderton | 06 May 2011
a photo of two spitfires lined up together outside a hangar
Imperial War Museum Duxford rolled out two Spitfires on Wednesday May 4, the exact date it first displayed their pioneering aeronautical abilities to Britain’s press in 1939.

In 1939 a press call saw journalists invited to Duxford to see the Spitfire’s revolutionary capabilities. On the day, 12 members of 19 Squadron performed air drills and Fl Lieutenant Cozens did an individual display to the onlookers’ delight.

The Spitfires then intercepted Blenheims carrying journalists in the gun turrets as part of a mock display of their precision and power. Those present were suitably impressed and it was reported that: “after the Spitfires had made their attack they seemed to be drawn away as if by some ethereal vacuum cleaner.”

H. F. King of Flight Magazine described the performance as: “a poem of speed and precision.”

This year is the 75th anniversary of the inaugural flight of the Spitfire; one of 20th century Britain’s crowning achievements in aeronautical engineering, a plane as impressive now as it was back then. 

One of the most famous aircrafts ever built, the Spitfire’s balletic grace combined with raw power to produce a plane that was unmatched by contemporary types.

an old black and white photo showing the press looking at a line of Spitfires
Spitfires of No. 19 Squadron lined up and photographed by the press, who were invited to Duxford to see the aircraft on 4 May 1939. © IWM
March 5 1936 marked the Spitfire’s maiden flight; it officially entered service with the RAF in 1938 and first saw action over foreign soil at the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. It remained in use until1955, and over this period 20,351 Spitfires were built.

The two Spitfires shown at Duxford are the Spitfire IXB MH434 and the Spitfire Mk. V BM597; the former is perhaps the most famous and iconic of all Spitfires still flying today, while the latter is an early development of this most legendary of fighters. Both were built at Castle Bromwich but now call Duxford home.

Duxford’s Imperial War Museum is inviting the public to enjoy the sight and sound of the celebrated British single-seat fighter aircraft as part of Duxford Air Show, which takes place on September 3-4, to honour the 75th anniversary of the Spitfire with a spectacular air display that will showcase the aircraft’s power and panache.
There is no more appropriate place to appreciate the 75th Anniversary of the iconic Spitfire than Duxford - it was where19 squadron received the RAF's first examples and is now considered by many to be the plane’s spiritual home.

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