Cambridgeshire

World War Two Spitfire sale could fetch £2.5m

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe plane has been restored to an airworthy condition (footage courtesy of John Dibbs)

A rare RAF Spitfire once flown by a Great Escape veteran and painstakingly restored over five years could fetch millions of pounds for charity.

It is one of only two left in the world to have been restored to its original specification and is airworthy.

The fighter, based at Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire, could fetch up to £2.5m at auction in July.

Proceeds will go to the RAF Benevolent Fund and Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

The Mk I Vickers Supermarine Spitfire was originally piloted by Old Etonian Flying Officer Peter Cazenove during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Despite radioing-in to say "Tell mother I'll be home for tea," he was shot down on 24 May 1940, crashed on the Calais coast and was captured.

'Particularly special'

He ended up in the Stulag Luft III prisoner of war camp, where British airmen launched their famous Great Escape in 1944.

Image copyright John Dibbs
Image caption There are only two original Mk I Spitfires left in the world that can fly

But despite failing to escape, he survived and returned to the UK after the war.

The plane remained hidden in the sandy beach of Calais until the 1980s when strong tides exposed the wreckage.

However, it was not until the parts were bought by an American collector and shipped to the UK that the mammoth task of restoring it began at the former home of RAF Duxford.

Now the Spitfire has been returned to its original glory and is going under the hammer at Christie's in London on 9 July.

Image copyright Peter R Arnold Collection
Image caption German soldiers posed with the Spitfire wreckage after it crashed in Calais

John Romain, chief engineer at the Aircraft Restoration Company, which undertook the project, said: "It came to us quite literally in boxes of parts that had been removed from the beach in France.

"We spent five years restoring it back to its original state.

"This one is particularly special. It is very unusual to see a Spitfire like this go to auction."

More on this story

Around the BBC