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Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Thursday, 19 August 2010 16:24 UK
Engineer Mark Harris supplies Spitfire spare parts
Mark Harris
Mark Harris insists that the Spitfire is still a very popular aircraft

Seventy years ago the RAF was locked in combat with the Luftwaffe in what was to become a defining moment of WWII.

The Spitfire plane, designed by Reginald Mitchell from North Staffs, helped to win the Battle of Britain.

But have you ever wondered how the remaining fleet of this iconic aeroplane remains airworthy?

Mark Harris' engineering firm in Stoke-on-Trent is the main supplier of spare parts to help keep these flying machines in the air.

Currently, there are in the region of 65 airworthy Spitfires around the world and Mark's company, Supermarine Aero Engineering Ltd in Burslem, helps to keep these in good order.

He says he's busier than ever. And the future looks bright when you consider that many other Spitfires are in the process of being rebuilt.

Engineering marvel

Mark still marvels at the engineering: "The Spitfire was in its day the equivalent of our Eurofighter.

"You are looking at something which was really cutting edge technology... it was built in a way that aeroplane designers today would still regard as being current."

Seventy years ago, on 20 August 1940, Winston Churchill said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

On the eve of the anniversary of Churchill's inspirational speech, Mark told BBC Radio Stoke that the Spitfire's design should be a rallying call for a renaissance of British engineering.

"I think people do look back on aeroplanes like the Spitfire as being a reminder of perhaps what we have achieved and what we could achieve again."




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