War Memorial Gary Trouton

Spitfire over Stoke Ferry

September 2013

Around midday on Saturday August 10, people in Stoke Ferry, Wretton, Whittington, and Boughton   may have seen a Spitfire flying low, most would have recognized that famous silhouette.  It was not a Spitfire, however, but a 0.8 scale replica, almost indistinguishable from the real thing when in the air and it would require an expert to tell the difference when on the ground, at least until one is quite close.  The only significant difference is a small air intake above the propeller boss.  The other give away, of course, is the sound, it does not have a Rolls Royce Merlin engine.  Nevertheless it does sound quite impressive.  I understood that the construction is  basically the same as the real thing. The pilot was Gary Cotterell, who landed the plane for a short stay at Boughton, I, along with a few others, was very fortunate to be able to examine this lovely plane at close quarters and to talk with Gary.  He told me it was imported from Australia where it is available in kit form for, I understand, £100,000.  This one was purchased in an assembled state.  This was kit number 54 which I assume means that 54 have been made, of which 10 are in the UK, so when you think you see a Spitfire in the air you could be wrong.I fell in love with this little machine and would have really loved to have been able to get in and fly it. Gary said that its rather feeble 8 cylinder engine restricted the performance so that it was not possible to give the sort of flying display that a full size Spitfire is capable of, but that would not worry me. When Gary took off he returned to give two or three low level passes over the field, flying not very far off the ground it was very impressive and appeared to be going quite fast, an impression enhanced by its scaled down size, the sound of the engine as it passed above us was satisfying enough.  I was as excited as I was as a schoolboy when watching Spitfires take off during the Battle of Britain. Just to complete my nostalgic weekend, when I was at Grange farm for the Duck Race on the Sunday I was given a ride in Geordie’s Austin Champ. It was very short but it was enough to remind me of a time when I was with the Fighting Vehicle Research Establishment in the 1950s and I rode in one on their cross country test track, on that occasion I was more than impressed, amazed might be a better word, by its capabilities. For those not familiar with the Champ I should explain that it was a British answer to the jeep, made by Austin.  Bigger and heavier than the jeep it was a far superior vehicle.  Those ordered for the British army by the Ministry of Supply (as the MoD was in those days) were fitted with Rolls Royce engines.  It was policy at the time to try to standardise British military vehicles with engines from a range sharing common parts and made by Rolls Royce.  The Champ was a good vehicle in its day but it was expensive and the Ministry soon abandoned the idea of standardising on Rolls Royce engines and opted to buy fewer Champs and buy Land Rovers instead.

Ron Watts

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