The incredible Scots 'Great Escape' pilot and rebuilding his Spitfire piece by piece

A World War Two Spitfire that crashed into a Norwegian peatbog almost 80 years ago is being rebuilt piece-by-piece in tribute to its Scottish pilot and his fellow airmen.

Auchterarder-born pilot, Flt Lt Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn crashed on a mountainside in south-west Trondeim on March 5, 1942, with the location of the wreckage found three years ago.

The pilot, who made his last flight from Wick, had been on a secret mission to photograph the German battleship Tirpitz when he was shot down.

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The Scot was captured, imprisoned and later executed following the Great Escape from the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp, where he helped to dig tunnels to allow the fighters to flee.

Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn leaning on the tail of Spitfire R7056 in November 1941. PIC: Gunn Family.

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Parts of Flt Lt Gunn’s Spitfire are still being found, with the wreckage being put together in a hangar on the Isle of Wight, with hopes to fly it once again by 2024.

Tony Hoskins, of the Spitfire AA810 Project, said: "Every possible part recovered that can be used will be used.

"We recovered a huge amount of material from the crash site, all of which had to be cleaned and sorted.

Flt Lt Alastair "Sandy" Gunn and roommates outside Hut 122 in Stalag Luft III. From left to right Guy Griffiths, unknown, Alastair Gunn, Wally Valenta, Des Plunkett, Hubert Henderson, Dudley Hamilton-Davis, John Boardman. (Gunn family)

"Once organised the salvaged items can be compared to drawings and any missing or damaged bits replaced or repaired."

The project team is also campaigning for a memorial to Flt Lt Gunn and his fellow pilots of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), with fundraising to begin in the near future.

The PRU’s secret reconnaissance missions photographed infrastructure, troop movements and weapon sites, with the information used in the planning of operations, including the D-Day landings.

Mr Hoskins said: "These crews have never been officially recognised, their sacrifices largely unknown. In total, 452 men would be casualties flying with the PRU."

A Spitfire AA810 at RAF Wick on the 29th January, 1942. Just five weeks later this very aircraft would be shot down with Flt Lt Sandy Gunn at the controls. (Tomlinson family/Colour by RJM.

After his capture, Flt Lt Gunn was denied food and forced to drink alcohol during his interrogation in an attempt to extract military information

He refused to comply and was later moved to Stalag Luft III in Poland, where he was a key figure in the digging of escape tunnels.

Flt Lt Gunn was among those to break free from the camp. He lasted two days on the run, but was captured and shot dead, aged just 24.

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