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5 March

80 Years of the Spitfire

Today in Gosports past: – 5 March 2016 marked the 80th anniversary of the first flight of the legendary Spitfire aircraft. The Spitfire was designed and built in Southampton, and Solent Sky Museum is sited just a stone’s throw from the original spitfire factory. The Spitfire played a vital role in defending the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain, although Southampton’s factory was destroyed by bombing in September 1940.

Southampton recovered from this attack and Spitfire production was dispersed to garages, laundries, bus stations and steamroller works – anywhere where there was sufficient space to produce Spitfire parts. The Spitfire played an important part in saving Britain, but it was Southampton that saved the Spitfire. To celebrate Southampton’s contribution to this icon of aviation, Solent Sky hosted a special event on March 5th, 2016, exactly 80 years after the Spitfire first flew.

This event, entitled ‘SOUTHAMPTON AND THE PEOPLE’S SPITFIRE’ was held at Solent Sky Museum in Albert Road South, Southampton. Solent Sky invited members of the public to take part by telling their experiences during the war in Southampton, and in particular their memories of the Spitfire factory dispersal. Interviewers  recorded these stories, and  cameras and sound equipment to preserved this oral history.

An exhibition was on display, showing how the Blitz effected Southampton and Spitfire production. A variety of period military vehicles and special exhibits were also on display, including a wartime Anti-Aircraft gun of the type used to defend Southampton.

Photo credits to original photographers