Spitfire fuselage fails to sell at Brooklands auction

Borough of Lambeth Spitfire
Image caption The Spitfire has been immortalised by modelmakers Airfix and Revell

The fuselage of a World War II Spitfire that has spent the last few years in a garden in Oxford has failed to reach its asking price at auction in Surrey.

The aircraft, nicknamed "Bette" after one of its pilot's girlfriends, was built in 1941 from donations from the Borough of Lambeth Spitfire Fund.

It was stationed in Cornwall, Hampshire, Norfolk and Shropshire during the war but crashed in 1944.

Bidding stalled below its £120,000 to £150,000 valuation.

The aircraft saw service with four RAF squadrons between 1941 and 1944 and was flown by author Alec Lumsden, who gave it the name Bette and added a character from the Daily Mirror cartoon strip 'Just Jake' to the paint work.

'Historical war birds'

After it crashed in Shropshire in September 1944, killing its Australian pilot, its wreckage was taken to Ibsley museum, Ringwood, Hampshire and displayed.

The aircraft was later passed to a collector who showed it at events. It has also been immortalised by modelmakers Airfix and Revell.

John Tomlin, from Historics at Brooklands, said: "The historical side of war birds is an up-and-coming market. There are now about 42 flying Spitfires and this seems to be increasing ever year.

"The rarity, the history and the provenance of all these aircraft make them very investable items and they're investments that can be used and enjoyed by a lot of people."

Experts believe it would cost about £1.8m to fully restore the plane.

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