Spitfire recovered from loch put on display

A Spitfire has been put on display 35 years after it was recovered from the depths of Loch Doon in South Ayrshire.

The Spitfire was restored and put on display.

The unveiling took place during their military vehicle show at the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum on Sunday July 16 with the aircraft being unveiled in its own hangar.

More than 2,000 people came to see the plane that had spent years at the bottom of a Scottish loch, but was eventually recovered after a five year search.

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It was eventually brought to the surface in the summer of 1982 after a search involving 109 sub-aqua divers and 567 separate dives.

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In a statement they said: ‘We had a fantastic response on the day with visitors speaking to all our staff to say how thrilled they were to be able to see the Spitfire looking so good, and to be able to get close to it with their families. We have had lots of lovely comments on social media about it and we really hope lots more people will come and see it.’

Curator David Reid, said ‘This has been a long time coming for us, but we are immensely proud to finally have this aircraft on display.

‘It is the only combat veteran Spitfire in Scotland, with a fascinating history from the Battle of Britain to a training aircraft for Czech pilots.

The Spitfire was recovered in 1982.

‘The next stage of its restoration can now begin, as we refit the cockpit and carry out detail work on the rest of the airframe.

‘Eventually, we intend to allow visitors to sit in the aircraft, although this will take some time to achieve.

‘However, to unveil the aircraft in this, our fortieth anniversary year, is a tremendous achievement for a small volunteer museum.’

The restoration has involved many museum volunteers and outside groups, with help from local businesses.

Fuselage work was carried out by the Aircraft Restoration Group in Yorkshire, the replica wings were supplied by Gateguards UK in Cornwall and it was painted by local firm NH Commercial Painters.

The P7540 was built in October 25 1940 at Castle Bromwich and was issued to 66 Squadron at West Malling in time for the closing days of the Battle of Britain.

It crashed on the October 1941 whilst being flown by 26 year old Frantisek Hekl.

The Spitfire was recovered in 1982.

It was his second Spitfire flight, the first being the preceding day. Whilst passing low over the waters of Loch Doon, his starboard wing struck the surface and the aircraft was lost.

Frantisek Hekl’s body was never found, despite a search at the time of the crash.

He is commemorated on a memorial at the side of the loch.