Over the course of its long and storied military service, there isn’t a lot the Supermarine Spitfire hasn’t achieved. Designed by RJ Mitchell in the 1930s, it became perhaps the most famous combat aircraft in history, and was produced in greater numbers than any other during World War Two, with more than 20,000 churned out in less than a decade.
During the Battle of Britain (which marks its 78th anniversary today), the Spitfire – aided by the bulkier Hurricane –helped down 1,887 German planes in little more than three months. It became the envy of the enemy and the pride of the nation, and was flown all over the world, both by British and Allied forces, before, during and after the war.
Today, a diaspora of airworthy Spitfires continues to exist, faithfully maintained by enthusiasts around the globe. Yet there remains one challenge the aircraft has never quite managed: a complete circumnavigation of the globe.
But that may be about to change.
At the tail end of next summer, two British aviation enthusiasts, Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, intend to take off in a polished silver Spitfire Mark IX from southern England, head north-east, and return to Blighty by Christmas having pushed the aircraft to new limits.