Unique aviation icon comes to sale at Historics
One of the most evocative icons, and the rarest of restoration projects, will take centre stage at the auction by Historics at Brooklands in Surrey, next February.
A Spitfire – not the ubiquitous sports car from Triumph – but a 1941Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa fighter – will come to sale at Historics, at their winter auction venue of Mercedes-Benz World on February 18th 2012, almost exactly 70 years after it first took to the skies.
Manufactured at the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory, and donated in January 1941 by the Borough of Lambeth Spitfire Fund, aircraft P8088 was despatched for service on March 1st that year.
In fighting trim, the aeroplane was sent to 118 Squadron in Ibsley, Hampshire, where it was given the call-sign NK-K, and flown, amongst others, by the well-known wartime pilot and author, Alec Lumsden.
It was Lumsden who played artist with the ‘plane, painting a picture of Captain A.R.P Reilly-Ffoull (Really Foul) – a character from the Daily Mirror wartime cartoon strip ‘Just Jake’ – on the fuselage.
Lumsden then added the name of his girlfriend, Bette, his flying log book indicating it was his wartime sweetheart who inspired the moniker, following her telegram greeting, “Good luck to Bette the Spitfire”.
‘Bette’ saw service with 66, 118, 152 and 19 RAF Squadrons during her operational life. This ended tragically on 16 September 1944, when 22-year old Flight Sergeant John Cashel Barry of the Royal Australian Air Force, was killed as he crashed to the ground at Lower Heath Coppice, Prees, Shropshire.
The bulk of the fuselage and further remains were recovered and, in 1978, further parts were removed from the crash site by the Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group, the entire collection then passing to Ibsley Museum, Hampshire, for display.
Following the museum’s closure in the mid 1980s, the Spitfire’s fuselage and boxed remains passed to the current owner, who conducted the early stages of restoration, connecting parts of the original airframe to those he had faithfully recreated to establish the fuselage, which will be displayed at Historics’sale.
Crucially, P8088 comes to auction with a Civil Aviation Authority Certificate of Registration – number G-CGRM/R1 – enabling NK-K to be restored for flying.
The fuselage, together with historical authentication data, original parts, and a wealth of original Spitfire parts drawings, will be offered by Historics for in the region of £120,000 – £150,000, with serious international interest anticipated for this unique lot.
Meantime, with the increasingly rare opportunity to examine a Supermarine Spitfire, let alone acquire one, Historics are grateful to Brooklands Museum, who are now displaying the Spitfire fuselage prior to the auction, in their Wellington Hangar.
Brooklands is a fitting venue for both the sale and the preview, as the Director of Brooklands Museum Trust, Allan Winn, says: “Although Vickers never built them here, Spitfires were regular visitors to the Company’s headquarters at Brooklands in the 1930s and ‘40s. We are delighted to have this Spitfire fuselage on display before the sale, and hope many people will take advantage of the opportunity to come and see this unique piece of British aviation history over the next couple of months.”