Robert Stuart Ltd Proud to be part of Spitfire AA810 Project
Robert Stuart Ltd are proud to announce a working partnership with the Spitfire AA810 project.
We will be carrying out electroplating, surface treatment, non-destructive testing and paint operations on new and repaired parts for this historic project to ensure that Spitfire AA810 is in perfect flying condition.
Flying deep into enemy territory, mostly unarmed and devoid of protection of any sort, these men photographed the movements of enemy supplies, men, ships and planes to gain the vital intelligence for Allied Commanders to plot the strategy of the war.
The Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) worked for all the branches of the armed forces in all theatres bringing home the crucial up to date information required to keep the Allies ahead.
Largely the PRU’s efforts have disappeared into history and with the levels of automation in the development of satellite imaging and unmanned aerial vehicle technology we are unlikely to ever send crews to carry out these missions again.
Few of the men involved have been credited with the work they carried out, this small band of brothers, who suffered considerable casualties and, due to the nature of their missions, those that were lost will most likely never be found. Now, fortunately, one of those lost Spitfires has been found and is under rebuild to flying condition, so the stories of the men that flew it can be told. Through this venture we hope to raise more awareness worldwide of the sacrifices the PRU made.
This project aims to restore a Photographic Reconnaissance Unit Spitfire PR.1D (or PR.IV) registration AA810.
These aircraft were stripped of all armour and weapons, given extra leading-edge fuel tanks to increase range from 575 miles to almost 2000 miles. The aircraft was equipped with cameras and used to photograph enemy positions across Europe and beyond as the war progressed.
AA810 was shot down on only it’s 20th flight since being built, whilst searching for the German Battleship Tirpitz in Trondheim Norway.
The pilot Alistair ‘Sandy’ Gunn was later captured and imprisoned by the Germans. He would be immortalised as one of the 50 escapees murdered by the Nazis after being captured during “The Great Escape”, with a film of the same name portraying these events.
As the earliest known example of a surviving PR.IV Spitfire, AA810 had a significantly longer career then most of the other aircraft on the unit, completing some 14 long-range operational sorties during the 6 months it was in service during World War 2.
With a range some 4 times that of a standard Mk1 Spitfire, AA810 would often spend up to 5 hours in the air, and never really less than 4 hours, with the vast majority over hostile country. The Operational Record Book for 1 PRU shows that AA810 crashed with just 49hrs and 47 minutes of operational flying. This still makes it the highest front-line machine, by hours flown, of all the surviving flying Mk1s.
You can find out more about this incredible project at the links below: