Posted by Ivan Rendall on 2 November 2015 in Blogging

SPITFIRE – ICON OF A NATION (available on amazon)

The 5th March 2016 is the 80th anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire. It is a story so big it’s almost untellable. And yet, , it goes on and on…

The Spitfire is a British icon, not only in the UK but around the world. Britain no longer exports aircraft but R.J. Mitchell’s genius still exports Britishness and our our unspoken confidence in the 1930s.

The Spitfire’s working life lasted from 4th August 1938 until 1961 when the Irish Air Corps retired its last operational example.

Of the 20, 351 Spitfires built, 54 are still airworthy, 30 of them in Britain.

There are some 250 Spitfires on static display, being dug up, restored, in air museums and in storage.

They are on display in 30 countries from Australia to Zimbabwe and Israel to China.

R.J. Mitchell’s creation tops the list of British icons. It shares that list, with Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s K6  Red Telephone Kiosk, introduced in 1935, and AEC’s  Routemaster Bus introduced on 2nd February 1956.

What these three icons share is that even as landline telephones disappear and new buses appear, people want the familiar around them. No air show is complete without Spitfires; K6 kiosks have been turned into wi-fi hotspots;  Routemasters still carry tourists in London.

It’s as if we just can’t let go, that Britain would not be Britain without the Spitfire.


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