Icon of a Nation


The Spitfire achieved its status as a national icon in the midst of a battle for survival: the Battle of Britain in 1940, when fewer than a thousand Spitfire and Hurricane pilots stood between Britain and invasion. Their courage inspired Winston Churchill to make what became his defining phrases of the war: "this was their finest hour" and "never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

The Spitfire and Hurricane shared the accolades but it was the Spitfire that emerged as the powerful symbol of national defiance, its vapour trails high in the summer skies over southeast England living evidence of Britain's aerial prowess, the first step towards ultimate victory. Pilots loved the Spitfire for its speed and responsiveness, the menacing growl of its Merlin engine and its raw beauty. It was also adopted by the public at large as part of popular culture, engaging with the masses at a deep, emotional level which has lasted across three or four generations.

SPITFIRE: ICON OF A NATION tells the story of an extraordinary aircraft through the work and experience of those who designed it, built it, flew it, serviced, armed and repaired it in war, and have preserved it since. The book explores their enduring affection and admiration for the Spitfire through its history as a fighting machine and how that bond gave the most famous aircraft in the world a unique and lasting place in British national life.


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