BAE Systems and the RAF Museum are once again displaying the iconic, World War II era Spitfire at Bahrain International Airshow 2016 (BIAS 2016). The aircraft is a piece of aerospace history and is also a reminder of the strong links between Bahrain and Britain which were underlined in the Second World War.
The Supermarine Spitfire remains the iconic British fighter of the Second World War, and Britain was not alone in its fight – Bahrain, through the Fighter Fund, financed the purchase of 10 Spitfires to aid the war effort. These were funded by all members of the community in the Arabian Gulf. In total, the Fighter Fund raised £50,000 (31,000 BHD) and six Spitfires bore the name “Bahrain”.
Sophy Gardner from the RAF Museum, said: “We are pleased to be working with BAE Systems and to have been able to display this iconic aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire at the Bahrain International Air Show. This particular aircraft played a key role in the Second World War, with the help of Bahrain and the other countries in the Gulf, so it is particularly pleasing to display it in this important year for Bahrain-UK relations.”
The aircraft, which arrived in Bahrain in sections, has been assembled over two days by six Bahraini students from the Gulf Aviation Academy, Bahrain Air Services and AFAQ, the Institute of Aviation Technology, in readiness for the Bahrain International Air Show, which starts on Thursday. This amazing experience has given the students the opportunity to learn about this iconic Second World War aircraft and its role in Bahrain’s history
Sir Glenn Torpy, Senior Military Adviser, BAE Systems and Chairman of the RAF Museum, said: “Spitfire has played a pivotal role in maintaining the strong relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UK. Today, and as we celebrate a legacy of alliance between both countries, the Spitfire stands witness on the great achievements that came out of this mutual partnership. As 2016 is an important year for Bahrain and the UK, it is also important for Spitfire, which will be celebrating the 80th Anniversary of its inaugural flight in March this year.”
The aircraft was well known for its elliptical wings and the sound of its supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin engine, which can be seen up close at the show. An RAF Museum representative will be on hand to provide insights and anecdotes about Spitfire and its link to the Middle East, as well as the role the Bahraini students have played in preparing the aircraft for display at the Bahrain International Airshow.
Spitfire entered service in 1938, with 20,321 Spitfires built over 24 variants and its last operational RAF sortie came in 1954. The actual model on display at BIAS 2016 was originally ordered in June 1943 and built in 1945.