Supermarine Spitfire XVI RW388 was moved on 5 February from the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent to the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society’s workshop at Rochester Airport, where it is now being inspected prior to a proposed restoration. It is intended that the aircraft will eventually go on display in a new glass-fronted extension at the Stoke museum, which will also become the new entrance, opening out onto a city square. The building is undergoing a £6-million refurbishment, funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, although campaigners will be submitting a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to develop interpretation panels for the exhibits.
The 1945, Castle Bromwichbuilt fighter was presented to the city by the RAF during 1972 in honour of R. J. Mitchell, who was born in the town of Kidsgrove in the Potteries in May 1895 and educated at a co-educational grammar school in Stoke. Julian Mitchell, the designer’s great-nephew, said he was delighted that the museum could finally carry out the work on RW388 thanks to the council’s support. Around £60,000 has already been raised for the displays through Operation Spitfire and the Friends of the Potteries Museum. Mitchell, a member of the fundraising group, says, “It will look fantastic. Every school pupil in the city goes to the museum and one of the things they have come out remarking on is the Spitfire.” Robin Brooks from the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) commented to Aeroplane, “Although RW388 is currently in the MAPS workshop we are in discussion with the museum about the project. The owners are potentially looking for a timescale of about two years to match their building works, and they have not yet defined just what they require MAPS to do to the aircraft, including what livery is required. On first inspection the aircraft appears to be generally in good condition. If MAPS accepts the project, it will use its experience with previous projects including five Spitfire restorations to ensure success.”
It is intended that the aircraft will eventually go on display in a new glass-fronted extension at Stoke’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery