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Barnshaws helps celebrate anniversary of the Supermarine Spitfire

24 March 2016

The Spitfire celebrates its 80th anniversary and this recognition has been supported by Barnshaws Section Benders precision bending and fabrication.

Very few aircraft capture the essence of British resistance like the Supermarine Spitfire, an aircraft which today epitomises the valiant efforts made by the RAF during the Second World War. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful propeller aircraft to ever grace the sky, the Supermarine Spitfire played a vital role in modernising British fighter squadrons against the technologically advanced Luftwaffe, supplementing the dependable but somewhat obsolete Hawker Hurricane. 

Rising high into the sky outside the location of the once vital Castle Bromwich aircraft factory, ‘Sentinel’ the Spitfire memorial sculpture by Tim Tolkien recognises the efforts of the workers and pilots who helped to defend Britain from the threat of invasion. Comprised of three Spitfires banking 16metres into the sky, the sculpture required extensive input from Barnshaws Section Benders when commissioned near the turn of the millennium.

The project utilised Barnshaws precision cutting, fabrication and bending expertise, with all work carried out in-house. The three spitfires were plasma cut from aluminium, while the smoke trails were produced from split sections which were then precision curved to a range of radii. The project was especially challenging as it had to be designed and constructed from first principles.

Components for the aircraft were manufactured across the UK, including the B. Saxtons works in Hyde, which became part of the Barnshaws Bending Group 20 years ago, adding extra significance to the project for the company.

The majority of Spitfires were built at the Castle Bromwich factory, with nearly 12,000 being delivered during the production run. The plane was designed by Staffordshire born R.J Mitchell CBE, originally utilising a Rolls Royce Merlin engine and later on, the more powerful Griffon. Lauded by pilots for its manoeuvrability and versatility in dog fight situations, the aircraft quickly became a symbol of the British war effort. The fighter initially earned its reputation during the battle of Britain in 1940, where Spitfires were thrust into huge engagements against the often superior numbers of the Luftwaffe, a struggle which is acknowledged by Sentinel. 

Sentinel was erected to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and stands on the A47 at the entrance of Castle Vale Estate in Birmingham.

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