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Supermarine Spitfires - Duxford Air Festival 2017

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A pair of Mk.1a Supermarine Spitfires performing a magical display together at the IWM Duxford Air Festival 2017. Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1a, N3200, G-CFGJ, is owned by the Imperial War Museum and operated by the Aircraft Restoration Company who are based at IWM Duxford. Built at Southampton in 1939 by Vickers Supermarine, this Spitfire Mark 1a was issued to No. 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford in April 1940. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, pushing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), along with French and Belgian troops, back to the French port of Dunkirk. By the end of May 1940, Germany's rapid advance through north-west Europe had forced Allied troops back to the coast of the English Channel. Stranded on the beaches of the French port of Dunkirk, the BEF faced certain capture that would have meant the loss of Britain’s only trained troops and the collapse of the Allied cause. The Royal Navy hurriedly planned an emergency evacuation – ‘Operation Dynamo' – to get troops back to Britain. On 26 May operation Dynamo began, which included the Royal Air Force sending all available aircraft to protect the evacuation. No. 19 Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson piloted Spitfire N3200 on its first and only operation as he led his squadron on a patrol to cover the evacuation of Allied forces. After shooting down a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber, Stephenson was himself shot down. He crash-landed on a beach at Sangatte, near Calais, and was captured. Stephenson remained a prisoner for the rest of the war, including a period spent at Colditz Castle, while his Spitfire gradually sank under the sand. Stephenson continued his RAF career after the war but was killed in 1954 while test-flying in America. His Spitfire was recovered from the French sands in 1986 after strong currents revealed it, more than 45 years after it sank. The wreckage was excavated during the spring of that year and, though largely intact, very few parts could be salvaged. The Spitfire was restored to flying condition and returned to the air in 2014, before it was donated to IWM in 2015. During a visit to the museum in July of that year, the Duke of Cambridge watched an air display by the Mark 1a fighter, sat in its cockpit and visited Duxford’s Battle of Britain exhibition – housed in the very same hangar that No 19 Squadron’s Spitfires were kept during the war. Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1a, X4650, G-CGUK, is owned and operated by Comanche Warbirds Ltd. Its first flight was at Eastleigh on the 23rd October 1940. She was issued to 24 M.U. Tern Hill, Shropshire, UK on the 25th October 1940 on charge with 54 Sqn. Catterick, Yorkshire. She was involved in a mid-air collision in December 1940 and struck off charge in June 1941. The wreckage was discovered on the banks of the river Lever in 1976. The remains were acquired by Peter Monk in 1995 and soon after restoration work on her was commenced. First post restoration flight was from Biggin Hill in March 2012. Video and Audio content is Copyright © 2017 High Flight Films/Stephen Keeler This video and audio material may not be reproduced in any form (except as the videos Youtube embedded video option on any other website), without written permission.

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