Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Renovation of a Spitfire MK.1 by Guy Martin

Turns out that British television has some genuinely interesting technical shows. 

The following is a well meaning Ch 4 production to the satisfaction of airplane gear-heads, WW veteran pilots and their families. It chronicles the two-year restoration of an excavated WWII Spitfire MK.1 to more than just a bill of flight-worthiness. 

The goal to the build is nothing less than absolute perfection with accuracy to every single detail just as how engineering drawings specified in the 1930's. It would then be demonstrated to the family of a nationally celebrated RAF pilot Jeffrey Stevenson who flew it in the Battle of Dunkirk but crashed it on a beach during the Dunkirk evacuation.

The Spitfire was one of the few instruments of war that changed the dynamics of World War II. A beautiful hand crafted machine of war, it was powered by a mammoth 1000hp RR Merlin 12 cyl engine drinking fuel upto a gallon a minute for an hour's worth of flight. It's 7 x 303 automatic guns and a top speed exceeding 300 mph became a serious deterrent to the German Luftwaffe in the skies over Britain.

The facts given in the video are stupefying. For example, the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory where they were made was 80 football fields in size and housed around 14000 factory workers. The plane had more than 3000 different parts. 40% of the workforce who build these aircraft were women, who worked every single day of the week and interestingly, earned equal pay as men. Around 60 Spitfires were built every single week at Castle Bromwich.

Guy Martin, a speed freak of the Isle of Man TT fame, makes it all the more entertaining to watch. I don't know if anyone could else could be as incredulous and resourceful a co-presenter as he, getting his hands dirty in the build operation himself but who obviously can't contain his amazement of the facts behind the plane. I'm frankly not so concerned if he stopped racing the TT, just as long as he got involved in efforts like this.

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