Inside the Spitfire Factory
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Through the eyes of RAF veterans historians, pilots, engineers and archaeologists, this series discovers the surprising stories of this iconic flying machine, whilst following the restoration of a 1943 Mark IX Spitfire from rusty remains into flying legend.
Hidden away in a little-known workshop at one of Britain’s most important wartime airbases, a team of dedicated engineers and enthusiasts are working round the clock to bring a national icon back to life.
This is the Spitfire Factory, a place dedicated entirely to resurrecting Britain’s most famous aeroplane and returning it to the skies.
Over the course of a year, this brand new six-part series follows the restoration of a particularly special aircraft, as factory owner, Peter Monk, and his crew restore the 1943 Mark IX Spitfire.
With £2 million at stake there’s no room for error and the pressure is on to deliver on time. As Peter hunts down parts and oversees construction, a large cast of characters – from pilots and engineers to historians and WWII veterans – are on hand to explore the Spitfire’s rich history and uncover its surprising stories.
Episode 1 - Birth of an Icon
The Spitfire Factory’s engineers get to work on the Spitfire’s fuselage. As they rivet, bolt, and hammer the 60-year-old parts back into shape, Peter hits the road to track down key components he’ll need for the restoration. Pilot Anna Walker travels down to Southampton to discover how the Spitfire can trace its roots from racing seaplanes in the 1920s, and the Spitfire Factory receives a visit from a veteran who may have a very special connection to Peter’s prize project…
Episode 2 – Wings Over Normandy
As the Spitfire Factory team gets its newly built fuselage off to the paint shop, we find out how wings can be either restored or built from scratch. Owner Peter Monk gears up for a family holiday like no other, as he and his boys travel in World War 2 jeeps to the beaches of Normandy to celebrate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Spitfire Factory historian Robin organises a special veterans’ day at the hangar, and restoration guru Steve Vizard gets to work rebuilding a long-forgotten cousin of the Spitfire: the Hawker Typhoon.
Episode 3 – The Spitfire and the Hurricane
Peter Monk and his Spitfire Factory team take on the biggest challenge of the entire Greek Spitfire restoration: attaching the wings. But the Spitfire wasn’t the only icon in the skies of World War II; it fought alongside the Hawker Hurricane, and in Essex a team of archaeologists have discovered one such aircraft buried in the ground. Meanwhile veteran Hurricane pilot Archie McInnes, one of the last of “Churchill’s few”, tells his astonishing story of survival in the face of almost certain death…
Episode 4 – The Flying Circus
It’s the biggest week of the year for Peter Monk and his Spitfire Factory team with their warbirds due to play the starring role in the annual Biggin Hill air show. But first they need to get their Greek Spitfire restoration back to the paint shop and they’re missing some crucial wing components. Factory tour guide Austin heads to an historic pub to recreate the story of his greatest Battle of Britain hero. Ground crew chief Ray meets a WAAF veteran who recalls her experiences working on Spitfires during the war. And at the air show the festivities culminate in an extraordinary solo display by Peter Monk’s favourite Spitfire.
Episode 5 – Power of the Merlin
There’s something missing on the Spitfire Factory’s main restoration project: the engine! Peter Monk sets off to Gloucestershire, where the newly restored Merlin is about to be put through its paces…but will it be up to Peter’s perfectionist standards? Pilot Jez explores the little known history of the Spitfire as a reconnaissance aircraft, playing a vital role in D-Day and the attacks on Germany’s biggest battleship. And ground crew chief Ray meets a Fleet Air Arm Veteran who flew the naval version of the Spitfire, known as the Seafire, and survived two kamikaze attacks in the final weeks of the war.
Episode 6 – Spitfire Reborn
After two years’ hard work, the Greek Spitfire is nearly complete. But will she fly? All hands are on deck to get the project finished on time, with the owners due to pay a visit and veteran George Dunn hoping to see his Spitfire fly again. With so much time and money spent getting it to this point, emotions run high as they prepare for the maiden flight. Meanwhile the boss’s eldest son Alex gets a flying lesson in one of the aircraft that young recruits his age were trained in during the war. And Peter prepares for his next project, as a new two-seater arrives from America.
Whitworth Media for Channel 4