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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 00:23 GMT 01:23 UK
Museum honours Spitfire inventor
Statue of RJ Mitchell
The statue is made from hundreds of pieces of slate
The designer of the Spitfire, which played a key role in World War II, has been honoured with a statue at London's Science Museum.

A statue of Reginald Mitchell, made from hundreds of pieces of slate, shows him standing over his drawing board.

It was unveiled as part of the museum's Spitfire exhibition to mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Present were Mr Mitchell's son, Gordon, and US billionaire Sidney Frank, who fought for more recognition for him.

The aircraft, along with the Hurricane, was vital in defeating the German Luftwaffe in the skies over southern England during the war.

Mr Frank, 85, said he fell in love with the famous fighter plane while working in the aeronautics industry during WWII.

Spitfire at Battle of Britain Airshow
Victory was made possible by the Spitfire
Gordon Mitchell
Son of Reginald Mitchell

He said: "It was the Spitfire that always enthralled me and for years the story of R J Mitchell inspired me.

"He was a man of genius whose creativity helped save England during one of the darkest hours."

Reginald Mitchell died of cancer in 1937 so never saw his plane used in wartime.

His son said: "For the general public, the Spitfire is undoubtedly the most beautiful, elegant aeroplane ever produced.

"Victory was made possible by the Spitfire."

Between July 10 and October 31 1940, the RAF and the Germans fought for supremacy over Britain.

Despite being outnumbered four to one, on September 15 1940, RAF Fighter Command claimed victory over the Luftwaffe after a day of bombing raids ended in heavy losses for Germany.

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