A ‘Spit’ fit for heroes

The combat record of Spitfire LFVc AR501, now flying again following restoration by the Shuttleworth Collection, helps recall some of the great Czechoslovak pilots who flew it on operations



Stu Goldspink flying the Shuttleworth Collection’s Spitfire LFVc AR501 near its Old Warden base. The aircraft has been put into the markings of the second of the two Czechoslovakmanned units with which it served, No 312 Squadron.

It started out as a hero’s welcome. Czechoslovak pilots who served with the Royal Air Force in World War Two were feted when they returned home as heroes of the fight against Nazism. Come the communist takeover of February 1948, all that changed. Regarded with increasing hostility by the regime, these men who had battled against one form of totalitarianism found themselves at the mercy of another.

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