Your Chance To Scramble a Spitfire at The War and Peace Show
Aircraft enthusiasts will have a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire,
with the engine roaring, the propeller spinning and guns firing, at the
War and Peace Show this year.
The Spitfire has changed the life of its owner Graham Adlam, who put much of it together in the garage of a terraced house in Taunton, Somerset.
“I first saw it in a field as I was driving home from work,” said Graham. “I was so surprised I nearly drove through the hedge.
“I wanted it so badly that I pushed a note through the letterbox of the owner’s house asking if it was for sale, and a few weeks later I had bought it.”
What Graham had acquired was a full size fibre-glass replica of a Mark lX Spitfire that had been used as a “gate guardian” to mark an RAF base. He got it painted up in WWll colours and one of its first outings was an appearance in the film “Pearl Harbour” starring Ben Affleck.
Affleck actually sat in the cockpit of the aircraft and Graham was able to get his autograph.
“I decided it needed an engine,” he said. “We managed to get hold of a Meteor, which is the tank version of a Merlin. It sounds just the same as a Merlin and is identical in dimensions, bore and stroke.
“Of course there was no metalwork in the nose to support an engine so we had to build that in, as well as considerable strengthening of the original steel frame.”
The Merlin is a dry sump engine, and so an external oil tank together with a multitude of other ancillaries were fabricated, including massive radiators.
The cockpit is fitted with an array of fully operational authentic controls and instruments, including an original gun sight.
The propeller works off hydraulics powered by the engine. It can spin from one revolution per minute to 800 rpm, or be completely switched off.
“This year for the first time we’ve had 20mm gas guns fitted which fire at the correct rate. So visitors to the War and Peace Show will get a pretty realistic idea of what it was like to scramble a Spitfire.”
The Meteor burns a gallon of aviation fuel every minute, so there will be a charge for people who want to open up the throttle on that powerful engine.
Graham transports the Spitfire on a specially modified lorry. The wings are detached and carried on a trailer which is towed behind. These are lifted and fitted using an ordinary Hiab.
The search for parts for his Spitfire has given Graham the experience to start his own web business, sourcing and providing components of vintage aircraft for collectors and restorers worldwide. He also hires the Spitfire as a backdrop for weddings, films and other occasions.
It’s brought about a complete career change for the man who, until he owned a Spitfire, repaired the roads of Somerset for a living.
The War and Peace Show takes place at The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, from July 21 to 25, and this year commemorates the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, as well as celebrating the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
More information on the War and Peace Show website