Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne

spitfire hurricane replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Helmut Zozmann, cc-sa-3.0)

Located near the famous White Cliffs, between Dover and Folkestone in Kent, the pleasant village of Capel-le-Ferne is home to a monument dedicated to the allied aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain.  Sitting adjacent to a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire replica – enduring symbols of the heroic British and Commonwealth fight against German invasion – a lone airman gazes out over the English Channel in a poignant gesture to missing friends.

battle of britain memorial  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Chris Barber, cc-sa-3.0)

Initiated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and opened by the Queen Mother in July 1993, the Battle of Britain Memorial was designed as a large propeller shape with the seated pilot, carved by Harry Gray, at its centre.  Nearby, the names of almost 3000 aircrew from Fighter Command, who took part in the Battle, appear on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall.

spitfire replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Bill Henderson, cc-sa-3.0)

The full size replica aircraft stand to the west of the monument.  The Spitfire replica (above) is a newer addition to the Hawker Hurricane (below), and together they form a fitting tribute to “The Few“.  Their position under the now-peaceful Kent sky, where the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, is highly significant.  So too is their proximity to the White Cliffs of Dover, considered a symbolic guard against invasion at the narrowest point of the English Channel.

hurricane replica  Hurricane and Spitfire Replicas at Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne(Image: Bill Henderson, cc-sa-3.0)

While the Spitfire captured the public imagination and created a lasting legacy due to its speed, agility and grace, the Hurricane deservedly cemented its reputation during the Battle of Britain, claiming 60% of the RAF’s air victories.  Cheaper and significantly easier to fly than the Spitfire, it was a popular aircraft with pilots.  This Hurricane replica (coded US-X) represents the plane flown by 20-year-old British fighter ace Geoffrey Page when he was shot down, surviving despite suffering terrible burns.

More Battle of Britain: Don’t miss this rare behind-the-scenes footage from the 1968 feature film.

Rare Behind-the-Scenes Footage from 1969 “Battle of Britain” Film

The Battle of Britain was a story of heroism and hair-raising dogfights, and film production depended heavily on the availability of period aircraft.  Overall, 100 planes were assembled, dubbed the “35th largest air force in the world”.  This rare behind-the-scenes footage was filmed on location, and documents some of the film’s most memorable moments – including the Eagle Day onslaught against British airfields.  For anyone with an interest in aviation and pyrotechnics, working on the Battle of Britain must have been a dream come true.

battle of britain behind the scenes  Rare Behind-the-Scenes Footage from 1969 “Battle of Britain” Film

This 8mm footage was shot in 1968 by Bob Foley, who was working as Sound Recordist on the “Making of the Battle of Britain” documentary.  Rediscovering the footage 30 years later in his loft, Bob was impressed to find it still worked on the projector, and re-filmed it using digital video.  Music and warplane sound effects helped bring the silent footage to life superbly.

battle of britain behind the scenes 2  Rare Behind-the-Scenes Footage from 1969 “Battle of Britain” Film

In addition to real aircraft, a number of full scale models were built – some to be destroyed by “German bombs”.  Several were capable of taxiing, with lawn mower engines to power their propellers.  In one amusing shot, three Spitfires can be seen taxiing without their propellers moving.  More relaxed moments show Messerschmitt BF 109s (really HA-1112 Buchons) parked near British Spitfires and Hurricanes, awaiting the call to “action”.

Video footage and screenshots reproduced with thanks to Bob Foley (via YouTube). 

Rare Dornier 17 Discovered off UK Coast to be Raised

crashed aircraft  Rare Dornier 17 Discovered off UK Coast to be Raised(Image: Wessex Archaeology, cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Wessex Archaeology captured this sonar image of a crashed Dornier 17 bomber off the coast of Kent, south east England.  The submerged World War Two-era German aircraft was discovered by a local diver.  Wessex Archaeology carried out a geophysical survey of the wreck followed by a diving inspection in 2010, amid plans to recover the aircraft for eventual display.

dornier 17 kent  Rare Dornier 17 Discovered off UK Coast to be Raised(Image: Folkerts, cc-sa-3.0 Germany)

Like all crashed military aircraft in the United Kingdom,  the rare Dornier 17 is subject to The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.  The bomber is believed to have been shot down during the Battle of Britain in August 1940.  More information, and plans to recover the aircraft, can be found on the RAF Museum website.