Thrown into Battle

The RAF and the Ministry of Defence made a substantial contribution to Battle of Britain — but, as the archives show, it wasn’t without its disagreements

BATTLE OF BRITAIN THE RAF’S ROLTHE RAF’S ROLE

Two of the seven so-called ‘Mark Addie’ Spitfires, so named after the film’s technical advisor Gp Capt ‘Hamish’ Mahaddie — latermark machines that were made taxiable and modified to a common standard more representative of Battle of Britain-era fighters. In this case, the aircraft are LFXVIes SM411 (foreground) and TB382, two of the RAF-supplied machines. SM411 had been on static display at Wattisham, and TB382 at the RAF Hospital in Ely. ENTERTAINMENT PICTURES/ALAMY

An aerial view of Hurricane IIc LF363 from the Battle of Britain Flight during filming. The official name change to Battle of Britain Memorial Flight did not take place until 1969, though the title is used in some documentation from before that — along with several others. PETER R. ARNOLD COLLECTION

It all started, as so many good things do, over lunch. During 1966, senior representatives of the Rank and Paramount film companies invited the Secretary of State for Defence and members of the Air Force Board to a presentation of their new project: a film about the Battle of Britain.

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