On this day in history…

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First flight with ‘Mutt’ Summers piloting

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5 March 1936 – the first Supermarine Spitfire prototype took to the skies

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On 5 March 1936, the first Supermarine Spitfire prototype took to the skies. Two years later, the first operational Spitfires served at RAF Duxford, home to 19 Squadron. This article by the Imperial War Museum tells the amazing story of the Supermarine Spitfire Mark 1a that crash landed in Dunkirk on its first mission, restored after 50 years buried in the sand. It is one of only four flying Spitfires of its kind left in the world.

The Spitfire – An Icon of the Skies celebrates one of history’s most important weapons in a glorious new light. A British national icon, the Spitfire is the best-known symbol of the war years for generations of Britons. From the deep, haunting growl of its Rolls-Royce engine, to the elegant style of its elliptical wing, it is perhaps the most famous and revered combat aeroplane ever built.

Author Philip Kaplan investigates just what it is that fuels the Spitfire’s compelling mystique. During wartime, it held an unrivalled reputation amongst Allied and Axis airmen. Today, it continues to hold aviation enthusiasts in thrall. Kaplan highlights the immeasurable contributions of Spitfire designers Reginald J. Mitchell and Joseph Smith, test pilots Jeffrey Quill, Mutt Summers and Alex Henshaw, and ace Spitfire pilots including Al Deere, Sailor Malan and Pierre Clostermann. All added to the legend of this lovely, but deadly, little fighter.

The origin and evolution of the plane are tracked, and the story of the marvellous Merlin engine that powered so many Spitfires through those challenging war years and beyond is brought to life. There are only a few airworthy Mark I Spitfires today and this book centres round the Mk Ia AR213, whose total restoration to flying status was completed in 2008. Much of its colourful background is described, as is the experience of flying it, in the words of both Tony Bianchi and Jonathan Whaley, who have flown it for many years and, arguably, know it better than anyone.

Click to browse more books about the Spitfire

5 March 1943 – the first UK flight of the Gloster Meteor

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Britain’s first jet fighter the Gloster Meteor first flew on 5 March 1943. The aircraft, which was designed by the Gloster Aircraft Company’s acclaimed chief designer, George Carter, was instrumental during the Second World War and beyond.

Meteor from the Cockpit – Britain’s First Jet Fighter by Peter Caygill.

The Meteor is remembered as the first British jet fighter to enter squadron service and the only jet powered Allied fighter to see action in WWII. Subsequent development was limited as a result of its relatively conventional airframe although it did hold the world air speed record for a while. The Meteor was immensely strong and many pilots owe their lives to its rugged construction. For a whole generation of pilots the aircraft (the Meatbox as it was affectionately known) provided the ideal introduction to jet-powered flight. It did suffer a high accident rate but many of the losses were due to lack of knowledge of the stresses of high speed flight at low level and a misguided training programme. More than sixty years after its first flight the Meteor lives on as it still used by Martin Baker to test ejection seats, testimony to the basic soundness of the design.This book looks into the aircraft s design history, development through many different variants and includes many first-hand accounts of flying the aircraft in peace and war.

More books about the Gloster Meteor

Early Jet Fighters Flight Craft 13: The Gloster Meteor in British Service Britain’s Greatest Aircraft RAF Top Gun

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5 March 1963 – the hula-hoop is patented

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The ever-popular childhood toy, the hula-hoop, was first patented 55 years ago on 5 March.

Find out more about the history of the hula-hoop craze in Susan Brewer’s Classic Playground Games – From Hopscotch to Simon Says.

About the book: A delightful book which records favourite childhood games and recalls forgotten rhymes. With more children suffering from obesity, Susan Brewer looks at the social games we used to play from skipping to chase games which used up our energy during break. Instead of costly computer games, we used rhyming games, played Jacks and showed our balancing skills during competitive games of hopscotch. A charming book, full of anecdotes and nostalgia for how we remember our favourite place at school – the playground.

Also available for Kindle and ePub download – only £4.99 each

Brand new History titles – save 20% off RRPs
Cathedrals of Britain: London and the South East Images of the Past: Wembley Tracing Your Georgian Ancestors 1714-1837

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Trailblazing Women of the Georgian Era The Great Illusionists Remember the 70s

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The Battle for the Caucasus 1942–1943 Axis Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the Second World War Chiang Kai-shek versus Mao Tse-tung: The Battle for China 1946–1949 Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941–1945

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Armies of Early Colonial North America 1607–1713 Panzer Ace The Journey’s End Battalion

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The RAF Battle of Britain Fighter Pilots’ Kitbag Otto Kretschmer DORNIER Do 17 The Luftwaffe’s ‘Flying Pencil’

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