A new exhibition will celebrate the history of the Spitfire, one of Britain’s most legendary aircraft.
Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon opens at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford branch in December and brings together 12 aircraft of varying marks in the museum’s AirSpace Hall.
Demonstrating how the plane evolved in design before and during the Second World War, the exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of tours, talks, and family events.
The Supermarine Spitfire was designed by Reginald Joseph Mitchell in the 1930s, with work later taken up by Mitchell’s collaborator Joseph Smith.
Mitchell learned his trade during the First World War and was conscious of the dangers of early planes. He incorporated many innovative safety features into his designs.
The Spitfire was his masterpiece. With its robust and adaptable design, it became trusted and loved by its pilots. In all, 20,351 were produced by the RAF.
During the war, Duxford was both an RAF and a United States Army Air Force station, playing an important role in the Battle of Britain. It was here that an RAF squadron first received the aircraft in 1938.
Commenting on the news, IWM curator Adrian Kerrison said, ‘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.’
Along with the museum’s own Mk Ia Spitfire, one of the few remaining airworthy Spitfires to have seen conflict, there will also be Mk V, Mk IX, and Mk XIVs on display. Many of these aircraft belong to private owners and have been loaned to the IWM for the duration of the exhibition.
Opening on 27 December, the exhibition will run until February 2022.