Channel 4 on Sunday 12th October at 7.30pm sees presenter Guy Martin join a team during a two year and estimated £3 million restoration of a Supermarine Spitfire that had been buried in a French beach for decades, and tells the Boy's Own style story of its pilot, RAF ace Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson.
Spitfire N3200 was part of 19 Squadron that was based at RAF Duxford, and that's exactly where the restoration project was based.
While covering the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940, the Mark I Spitfire was shot down and crashed on a beach in northern France, where it sank into the sand. Squadron Leader Stephenson escaped and headed for Belgium. The wreckage was finally recovered in the 1980s and stored in France for more than 20 years until it was bought by an aircraft restoration company a few years ago.
As well as showing the incredible engineering skills involved in building the aircraft, the program also celebrates the lives of the factory workers who risked their lives building the aircraft and the mechanics who worked around the clock to repair the planes and send them back into the skies defending Britain.
The program shows the restored Spitfire take off from the Duxford airfield. Pilot John Romaine commented, after landing the plane following its short flight, "From the moment it got off the ground it felt just perfect. It flew beautifully."
The Mk1 Supermarine Spitfire is one of only four still flying in the world.