Pioneering engineering played a significant part for the Supermarine Spitfire in gaining an Engineering Heritage Award.
The institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) initiated the Engineering Heritage award scheme 36 years ago and has used it since that time to highlight landmarks in the country’s engineering heritage. This time was the turn for the Mk1 Spitfire number K9942, which is on display at the Royal Air Force museum at Cosford.
The Spitfire was recognised for the contribution and vital role it played both in terms of protecting the country and its pioneering engineering. The award was presented to RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton by John Wood of the IMechE.
Built in Woolston, Southampton in 1939, this early Mark 1 is the world’s oldest surviving Spitfire. Designed by R J Mitchell, the Spitfire combined strength, lightness and streamlining with the powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. From the beginning, pilots recognised it as a thoroughbred combining perfection of design with superb handling characteristics.
According to RAF Museum Cosford Curator, Tom Hopkins, the Spitfire is the most famous British fighter aircraft in history, which won immortal fame during the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain.
“Although Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires throughout the Battle of Britain, it was the Spitfire that captured the imagination of the British public and enemy alike,” says Hopkins.
John Wood, chairman of the IMechE’s Engineering Heritage Committee made reference to the aircraft’s huge contribution in the Battle of Britain as well as in Britain’s engineering heritage.
“The UK’s large aerospace industry is built on the rich heritage of engineering innovation which is a legacy of aircraft such as the Spitfire,” he concludes.