In February 1936, the Spitfire prototype K5054 had its first engine runs at the Supermarine Aviation Works, Woolston, Southampton before it was dismantled and transported to Eastleigh airfield, where its was reassembled. On the afternoon of 5th March 1936 the prototype Type 300 Spitfire, bearing the serial number K5054 flew for the first time, piloted by Vickers chief test pilot, Capt. J. 'Mutt' Summers. Upon landing 'Mutt' was famously quoted as saying "I don't want anything touched". No major problems were identified and, although many months of testing and alterations lay ahead, the Spitfire had made a successful first flight.
Created by the brilliant Reginald Mitchell and his team of designers and craftsmen on the banks of the River Itchen at Woolston, this originally private design, needed production on a scale impossible at the Woolston Supermarine works. The Government felt that the Supermarine works at Woolston would not be able to cope with the expected volume of demand, so they decided to set up a "Shadow Factory" for Spitfire production at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham, initially under the control of the Nuffield organisation and later transferred to the management of Vickers-Armstrong Ltd.
The Vickers-Armstrong factory at Castle Bromwich became the UK’s largest Spitfire factory, producing up to 320 aircraft a month and building over half of the estimated 20,000 by the time production ceased in June 1945. Surviving factory workers still vividly remember watching and hearing renowned test pilot Alex Henshaw take to the skies in the original Spitfire prototypes, with their famous guttural engine roar, from the old airfield, off Chester Road.
So fond are the memories of this aircraft, which became a symbol of hope, that on Saturday the 5th of March the Aero Legends Spitfire 'St George' TD314 (type HFIXE), built at Castle Bromwich in 1944, is planned to make a commemorative flight over the Castle Bromwich Spitfire factory site (now Jaguar/Land Rover). This is Subject to Air Traffic, weather and serviceability.
Throughout the Spitfire 80th Anniversary Weekend, whilst TD314 is static at Sywell Aerodrome, enthusiasts have the opportunity to enjoy TD314 Sit In A Spitfire experiences, the Rolls Royce Merlin engine and Spitfire 80th Anniversary mementos.
There are still some limited places available to book, so click the Groupon Spitfire Cockpit Experience with Refreshments and book a morning or afternoon experience. All bookings are made with Groupon.