By the summer of 1940 Britain stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany and war materiel acquired from the United States had to be paid for in cash. But in December, American President Franklin D Roosevelt declared that the US, as the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’, would start sending military supplies to Britain without requiring immediate payment. His pledge led to the March 1941 signing of ‘An Act To Further Promote the Defense of the United States’, better-known as the Lend-Lease Act. Under the deal, American war materiel could be transferred on a ‘pay later’ basis – but what’s less well known is that it could also operate the other way – and among the items transferred under this ‘reverse lend-lease’ arrangement were over 1,000 Supermarine Spitfires.
The Spitfire’s qualiti