The Spitfire remains one of the most iconic combat aircraft of all time and to own an airworthy example of this classic fighter is the Holy Grail for many war bird collectors.
For an aircraft that first flew more than 70 years ago and went out of production in the early 1950s, it may seem surprising that there is a flourishing industry centred on this aircraft in the 21st century.
Building brand new Spitfires from scratch or restoring original examples to airworthy condition has become big business, with aircraft changing hands for several million pounds apiece.
In the new Haynes Supermarine Spitfire Restoration Manual husband and wife author team Paul and Louise Blackah look at what is required to find a Spitfire suitable for restoration and then return it to the skies.
Paul’s vast hands-on experience with the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfires combined with his contacts in the aircraft restoration community mean he is uniquely placed to give readers a glimpse inside the world of Spitfire building and restoration in the 21st century.
Paul says: “The sight and sound of the iconic Merlin engine flying across the sky is as much a draw today as it was over 70 years ago, when people paused in their labours to watch as the RAF fighter battled overhead against its German adversaries.
“When production ceased in the 1950s some 22,000 Spitfires had been built. Most were then scrapped, being surplus to requirements, but a small number have survived the tests of time and the elements and that’s why those who are interested in aircraft restoration take them to their hearts – and workshops – guaranteeing the Spitfire a place in the history books.”
The Supermarine Spitfire Restoration Manual includes interviews with leading Spitfire builders and restorers as well as containing many new and previously unpublished photographs of Spitfire restorations.
Aircraft restoration expert Paul Blackah MBE of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is co-author of the Haynes Spitfire, Lancaster, Hurricane, Messerschmitt Bf109 and DC-3 Dakota Manuals. Louise Blackah is also an aircraft enthusiast and has worked with Paul on his other books. They live in Lincolnshire.
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