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In lieu of a more substantial post, here are some flying aeroplanes. Clicking the above picture will take you to a British Pathé newsreel issued on 7 July 1938, showing 'Britain's latest air fighter', also known as the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I. Unfortunately the narration is missing, but I think this is the first production Spitfire, K9787 (at least, I can make out a -87 serial number in places), which first flew in May 1938. That looks like Jeffrey Quill in the cockpit about a third of the way through. A photo on page 18 of the 28 June issue of The Times shows a Spitfire in flight, noting that it was 'undergoing acceptance trials', and the newsreel footage was presumably part of the same Air Ministry propaganda exercise. Other newsreel companies produced similar items.
This was the British public's introduction to the Spitfire, at least on a large scale. The prototype, K5054, was on display at the 1936 RAF Pageant, but it took two years to get into production, and in those years biplanes still formed the air defence of Britain. I'm surprised that the British government didn't make more of their fast new fighters (the Hurricane debuted only a little earlier) in propaganda terms in late 1938. Of course, there weren't very many of them yet. But just the sight of them cavorting across cinema screens might have increased public confidence in Fighter Command, and weakened support for appeasement. On second thoughts, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised after all.
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