20th April 2021 – Alan Matlock on Facebook
Spitfires were made in Southampton – they still are!
Only a couple of miles from the site of the original Supermarine factories on the banks of the River Itchen, a company is continuing Southampton’s proud heritage of making Spitfires.
Mark Cole Metalforming Ltd. is a present-day Spitfire Maker, producing custom-made parts for Spitfire restoration projects. His production techniques are little changed from those which would have been familiar to the women and men who worked in wartime garages, sheds and workshops across the city and beyond. High grade aluminium is cut, shaped, drilled and riveted to make the parts that are needed to get vintage Spitfires airworthy once again.
You may have seen these, and even Mark himself, on TV documentaries about Spitfire re-builds.
Here are a few photos from his website (shared with permission) which demonstrate Mark’s ‘wheeling’ skills and show the familiar outline of the Spitfire.
Images by Mark Cole Metalforming Ltd
During the war we know that air intakes were being made by Auto Metalcraft, a subcontractor in Emsworth Road, Shirley, Southampton, and the distinctive wing leading edges were stored in a drying shed at the Blanchard’s Brickworks in Bishops Waltham
.Go to his Facebook page to see more of Mark’s amazing work: https://www.facebook.com/markcolemetalforming
Alan Matlock on Facebook 21st April 2021 –
And here is how Spitfires were being made in Southampton, back in the day 80+ years ago.
Thanks to Dave Key of The Supermariners for setting this out.
Please do get in touch if you have info or family stories to add, particularly on the locations where production was dispersed to after the Woolston and Itchen Works were put out of action.
Dave Key on Facebook 21st April 2021 –
Vickers-Armstrongs (Aviation) Ltd Supermarine Works – 1938-1939
As the question of the Spitfire and the Supermarine Works has come up a few times with various levels of confusion … I hope these pictures of Woolston, Itchen and Eastleigh will help.
The picture of Woolston shows ‘P Shop’ and was part of the original photos used to illustrate the sales Brochure for the Spitfire in 1938. P Shop was where Wing Assembly was done in the large jigs that Supermarine were able to save after the bombing and transfer to the Hants & Dorset Bus Garage on Winchester Road in Southampton, as well as other dispersal areas including the Wilts & Dorset Bus Garage in Salisbury, Bradley Road Works in Trowbridge.
The picture of the Itchen Works shows the rows of Spitfire fuselages undergoing stage 2 assembly with the tail section attached (these had been made by Folland Aircraft in Hamble).
You can also see the Strenraer (these were the last of an order for the large 2-engined bi-plane flying boats for the RAF Coastal Command) and Walrus (single ‘pusher’ engined bi-plane amphibians used by the Royal Navy … production of these was transferred to Saunders Roe during the War to free production capacity for Spitfires)
The picture of the Main Hangar at the airport in Eastleigh shows the wings and engines being fitted as part of the Spitfire’s Final Assembly before being wheeled across the airfield to the Flight Shed where final tests would be performed and the aircraft delivered to the RAF.
If you want to see more pictures of many of the Spitfire locations several albums were made by Vickers at the end of the War and one is available (pandemic restrictions allowing) to view in the City Archives in Southampton along with a lot more information on the town of Southampton (as it was at the time) during WWII.
There is also more on the Works (though it does need an update) at https://supermariners.wordpress.com/…/the-supermarine…/
If you can add to the information … please do get in touch via the website or The Supermariners.