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The Headquarters of the Royal Air Force has unveiled a replica Spitfire, iconic fighter aircraft of the Battle of Britain, as its newest gate guardian in a formal ceremony held today, Friday 12th September. The Spitfire will sit proudly alongside the existing Hurricane aircraft that has been in place at the entrance to RAF High Wycombe for the past two years.
The replica Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa, built by Gateguards UK and presented by BAE Systems is painted in the markings of No 41(F) Squadron RAF. It bears the insignia of the aircraft flown by Squadron Leader Donald Osborne Finlay (later Group Captain, DFC AFC) when he commanded No 41(F) Squadron at RAF Hornchurch during the Battle of Britain. Mrs Lisa Tomlin, daughter of Group Captain Finlay was honoured to attend the ceremony and said “I’m immensely proud that he has been remembered in this way.” She was accompanied by several family members who were all pleased with the new presentation.
Military and Civilian representatives from the RAF, BAE Systems, The Royal Observer Corps and Halton Apprentices Association joined The Commander-in-Chief, Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader KCB OBE ADC FRAeS RAF who accepted the Spitfire on behalf of Headquarters Air Command. He said: “The presentation of this replica Spitfire gate guardian is representative of a long and enduring history of cooperation and understanding between BAE Systems and the Royal Air Force. In the RAF’s 90th year it is particularly apposite that BAE Systems chose to present a Spitfire, to match the existing Hurricane, thereby completing the set of iconic Battle of Britain Fighters that provide such fitting guardians to the premier Headquarters of the Royal Air Force. We are extremely grateful for this gesture from BAE Systems and we look forward to many more years of cooperation and understanding.”
The aircraft was presented to the Station by BAE Systems to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. It was presented with a plaque bearing some of the history behind the markings of the aircraft and the motto of the RAF ‘per ardua ad astra’, translated as ‘through adversity to the stars’.
Kevin Taylor, Managing Director of BAE Systems Air Mission Support and Services, said “I’m tremendously proud to present, on behalf of BAE Systems, this gate guardian to HQ Air Command to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. BAE Systems and our predecessor companies have helped provide air power to the RAF throughout this time and we continue to do so through supporting current platforms and providing new capability. The Spitfire is one example of our shared heritage and this replica is a great illustration of the partnering between the Armed Forces and industry.”
Editor: Laura Regan
(RAF News Item sent in by Terry Giles)