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What a year 2023 was - and what for the future...

As 2023 draws to a close, the project looks back on progress through the last year, and is delighted to announce a number of developments for 2024.

Restoration of Sandy’s Spitfire

Restoration progress has been fantastic this year; considering the number and relatively complex modifications in place on AA810 compared to a standard Mk1, the theme of 2023 could easily be research, research, research! With the help of our colleagues in the UK and additionally the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway, we have managed to pull together the most comprehensive data on the type known – and it continues to grow. From this research crumpled wreckage has been identified, patterned where needed, and rebuilt ready for use. Combined with original equipment the restoration continues to progress towards being the most complete example of an RAF reconnaissance Spitfire in the world.

As we write this update, the fuselage structure nears completion with Airframe Assemblies on the Isle of Wight, soon to be mated to our already completed fin unit. Elsewhere in the workshop, work has started on assembling the spar webs and leading edges of the wings – work which has also involved a huge amount of reverse engineering and research on the unique leading edge configuration of the early PR.IV. With the construction of an early tailplane jig, the new horizontal rear surfaces for AA810 will come together from the kit of parts made during lockdown, enabling the process of systems fitting out to commence.

The wreck itself has given a huge amount of information back to us as we have meticulously studied it. We now know that the fuselage had already been completed for the Merlin III fighter variant before modification to PR.IV. Previously the presence of the starting magneto mounts and switching, the early Mk1 instrument panel, and the absence of PR.IV part numbers from the main structure had long confused us. However in laying out the skins it became obvious that non-standard access panels had been made in the fuselage to install the control modifications in the aircraft, denoting therefore that the fuselage was a completed assembly before modification. Additionally the wings showed evidence of preparation for a standard early gun configuration with some additional modifications we are still trying to understand so whilst our knowledge is far greater at the end of this year than the start, the story is not yet fully told!

Youth Outreach

This year has been by far our most successful for engaging with the next generation of engineering and aviation enthusiasts. At well over three quarters of a million young people engaged in 2023 we have set ourselves the very attainable goal of one million engagements in 2024. To help achieve this we have some excellent working partnerships with training institutions, youth organisations, and new schools and colleges in 2024. We will also be launching two new platforms – our long-awaited YouTube channel and a TikTok platform for mainly our younger followers.

National PRU Monument

Work has continued behind the scenes for the National Monument project, both developing the design and scope of the monument and also with the considerable admin needed to establish such an important structure. We are pleased therefore that we are now in discussions with both national and local government for our final meetings to move the project to the planning application phase which we hope will start in the early part of 2024. We thank everyone who has worked so hard on the huge task that is ensuring we recognise all those who served. We look forward to sharing the results of the effort that has gone into this.

…and what for 2024?

The restoration of Sandy’s Spitfire will continue. On the Isle of Wight the wings will take shape whilst on the mainland systems and equipment will begin to come together for the final fitting out. We are always looking for information and equipment which may be of help, and indeed corporate or individual sponsorship of elements of the work is always welcomed. Please contact us on if you can help in this regard.

Educational outreach continues to be a huge driving force behind the project and its activities and for a large portion of 2023 the project has been developing its PRU Archive as part of the National Monument Charity. It is hoped in 2024 to start to use this resource for external educational purposes, indeed plans are developing to establish a home for the archive collection, potentially with visitor access. The opportunities should such a home come about are considerable and we are working hard to integrate these plans without impacting our work with AA810.

2024 also sees the 80th anniversary commemorations of the Great Escape and D-Day. We have a number of events planned for both anniversaries, not just our own project endeavours, but also assisting a number of other groups around the UK as they mark this significant anniversary. Alongside a number of new exhibitions that we are providing content to, the opportunities to see the work of the project will grow considerably during the next year. Our exciting schedule will be announced during January.

Our National Monument fundraising will begin in earnest across the 23 nations whose personnel took part in RAF unarmed reconnaissance operations during the Second World War. We will be unveiling the design and those individuals who are getting behind the campaign to bring this project to fruition in the Spring. We have some exciting plans in development and an incredible center piece to the monument which warrants its own special feature that we look forward to announcing.

Last but certainly not least, our operating company – The Reconnaissance Heritage Flight – will begin trading and will launch its members club. We have been working on additional shop content for the last year, with many new products in quality testing so we can get you the best AA810 and Reconnaissance content. The members club will help support the operations with Sandy’s Spitfire and alongside two magazines per year, members will get discounts on merchandise and some of the events we are looking to host going forwards.

It has been a fantastic year for progress, and we are delighted that you all have enjoyed this journey with us. The team behind AA810 want to thank you all for your support, your questions, your interest and indeed for spreading the word about what the project is about and who it commemorates. As we head towards the final stages of returning Sandy’s Spitfire to flight, your ongoing support is truly welcomed, and we can’t wait to share more of this journey in 2024.

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1 Comment

Lamb Herman
Lamb Herman
May 02

The members club will help support the operations with Sandy’s Spitfire and alongside two magazines per year, members will get discounts on merchandise and some of the events we are looking to host going forwards. snow rider 3d

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