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Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Friday, 13 August 2010 17:03 UK
Keeping the Spitfire flying in Berkshire
Spitfire production in Vincent Garage
Vincent's Factory in Reading was one of the locations Spitfires were built.

People in Berkshire played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain.

Small factories dotted around the county helped produce Spitfire parts, and planes were tested at a Berkshire farm near Henley.

Production on the planes began at the Supermarine works in Southampton but the site was bombed by the Luftwaffe in September 1940, killing 140 people.

Using the precision machines that survived, production began in temporary facilities in Berkshire.

Other temporary factories were set up in Salisbury, Trowbridge, Southampton, Winchester and West Bromwich.

Unarmed planes

Spitfire parts were made in Reading, Newbury and Hungerford, with Reading responsible for producing wings and fuselages on several sites.

A spitfire.
Twyford pilot Lettice Curtis flew Spitfires during World War II.

Curator at the Museum of Aviation, Ken Fostekew, said that many of the Spitfires produced in Berkshire were used for photographic reconnaissance.

"The planes were unarmed and there was no protection for pilots, but they were fast and loaded with cameras," he said.

"They would adjust their flight height so they didn't leave vapour trails.

Factory requisitioned

"Photo reconnaissance was very important."

The planes were also painted a light blue or pink rather than the traditional camouflage in order to better disguise them from the enemy.

Work at Elliots of Newbury
Spitfire production was shifted to small workshops

Pink Spitfires would be used in early morning or evening reconnaissance missions and blue Spitfires during the day, to blend in with the colour of the sky.

Planes were also tested at a Berkshire aerodrome near Henley called Upper Culham Farm before being flown to RAF Benson or elsewhere for deployment.

The planes were also assembled and took their first flights from what is now AWE Aldermaston.

In Newbury, Elliotts furniture factory was requisitioned to make Spitfire parts. Today the site is the headquarters of a healthcare company.




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