Spawned from Supermarine's race planes of the 1920s and 1930s, the Spitfire's designer Reginald Mitchell always scoffed at the fighter's nickname but he was overjoyed with its amazing performance.
At the time of its first flight in 1936, the Spitfire was one of the world's fastest military airplanes. Just four years later, dashing and distinctive elliptical-winged Spits tangled with marauding German fighters and bombers during the Battle of Britain.
Never a long-range machine, the Spitfire was nonetheless ideal for scrambling into the air at a moment's notice to defend the British Isles from attack. Spits were even used to intercept and destroy speedy V-1 "Buzz Bombs" launched from mainland Europe. The trusty fighter had a long life with the Royal Air Force -- in service at the beginning of World War II and still patrolling the skies on V-E (Victory in Europe) day and beyond.
The Museum's Spitfire was built at Castle Bromwich in early 1944. Assigned to a fighting squadron by May, this Spitfire was flown in support of the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944. After World War II, this plane served with the Royal Netherlands and Belgian Air Forces.
In 1961, the Spit was used in the filming the movie The Longest Day and was later owned by TV actor Cliff Robertson.