The Men and women who made
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The Men and women who made the Spitfire the aviation icon
UK price: £25.00, Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-910505-05-2
Format: 233x169mm, Page extent: 256, Illustration: 120 black and white photographs Publication date: 25 June
Published to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain
Paul Beaver’s new book on the Spitfire puts people right at its centre. The iconic Second World War fighter is perhaps the best known aeroplane in the world and the subject of a thousand books.
In SPITFIRE PEOPLE, Paul re-examines the role of the design team at Supermarine and seeks to unravel the wing design and the design work which for so long has been attributed to R J Mitchell. He looks at the politics behind the funding and the senior Royal Air Force officers who stuck their necks out in defiance of HM Treasury to order the Spitfire into production.
Once into production at Southampton, Paul has found evidence of plans to disperse the manufacture to Salisbury, Trowbridge, Reading and Newbury long before the Luftwaffe struck at the Supermarine works. He has also put the production at Castle Bromwich into context and shed new light of the developments which led to the later mark of Spitfire as completely different aeroplanes from the prototype thanks to work of Joe Smith, Alf Faddy and Alan Clifton.
The heroes of the air are not forgotten. Besides confirming the outstanding role of Bob Stanford Tuck, the first Spitfire ace who before the war had added much to fighting ability of the Spitfire, Paul has examined the impact of the ‘Spitfire Girls’ of the Air Transport Auxiliary. The Battle of Britain victory is attributable to the Spitfire is real and media terms, Paul asserts and SPITFIRE PEOPLE also covers the role played by the Spitfire in all theatres of war, including at sea.
With its Foreword by Captain Eric (Winkle) Brown, the book identifies 50 key people in the Spitfire’s life story including Winston Churchill and Alex Henshaw, featured on the cover. Eric Brown has, by the way, flown more marks of Spitfire and Seafire than any man alive.
With the resurgence of Heritage Spitfires, Paul writes about the world’s first spitfire training school at Goodwood where the instructors of the Boultbee Flight Academy take people from ab initio to solo. The work of the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford has been the key to his revival in the fortunes of the Spitfire. Five million people a year go to airshows and most to see the Spitfire and hear the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine ‘sing its song of freedom’.
A final goodie is the artwork of Jon Freeman which captures all 63 variants and sub-types of the Spitfire and Seafire, together in one place to the same scale, so that the keen historian can contrast and compare.
Author Paul Beaver is a historian, broadcaster and commentator as well as an historic aeroplane pilot who has been flying the Spitfire since 2011. Although he has over 40 books to his credit, this is his first for 20 years. He lives near Salisbury, where he is chairman of Salisbury Wings Week. This book is based on research for his sell-out talk at the Chalke Valley History Festival.