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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 September, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Spitfire designer wins television vote
The Spitfire
About 12,000 Spitfires were produced at Castle Bromwich.
The man who designed the world-famous Spitfire fighter plane has been voted Greatest Midlander by BBC television viewers.

Midlands Today announced that Reginald Joseph Mitchell had won the competition on Friday's programme.

RJ Mitchell was born in Staffordshire and spent his first 21 years in the county, becoming an apprentice at a locomotive works.

He moved down to Southampton, where he put his skill into designing a succession of aircrafts which culminated in the Spitfire, the first prototype of which was tested in 1936.

Finest aircraft

But he died from cancer in 1937 before his Spitfire went into production.

About 12,000 Spitfires were produced at Castle Bromwich.

Ken Pugh, former spitfire pilot , said: "There is no doubt that he was the finest aircraft designer of our generation and the country owes him a complete debt otherwise I wouldn't be talking to you today."

His son Dr Gordon Mitchell said he wanted to thank all the people that voted for his father.

"I would like to ask Her Majesty The Queen if she may be able to consider the award of her very prestigious Order of Merit to my father posthumously," he said.

Mitchell beat William Shakespeare into second place for the title of Greatest Midlander and Worcestershire's Sir Edward Elgar came third in the competition.



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