The Making of the film:
The survivors - other airworthy examples
Spitfire Mk.FIa P9374
Engine: Merlin III
Serial No. /Reg. P9374,(G-MKIA)
Sqdn – code: 92 Squadron - J
Role in film: None, Currently: Airworthy.
The aircraft was ordered from Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd under contract number B980383/39 and first flew on 23rd February 1940 initially being issued to 9MU and subsequently delivered to 92 squadron on 6th March 1940, it was lost on operations on 24th May 1940 having flown a total of 32.05 hours.
It was a touching moment for the team behind the multimillion pound restoration of the plane, which made its last fateful flight from Hornchurch Aerodrome on May 24, 1940.
With Pilot Officer Peter Cazenove at the helm, the P9374 Mk1 Spitfire had taken off from the former RAF Hornchurch with the 92 Squadron, headed for the Dunkirk evacuation.
But just before reaching the French coast the squadron ran into German aircraft, which shot down Cazenove’s Spitfire.
The pilot managed to make an emergency landing on a beach near Calais, then still in Allied hands.
The Spitfire on the beach in 1980...where it had been left since May 1940.
The Spitfire landed wheels-up, with Cazenove walking away unharmed only to be captured by advancing Germans soon after.
Cazenove was to be a prisoner of war for the next five years and even involved in some of the planning for The Great Escape – made famous by the 1963 film of the same name.
Meanwhile, his spitfire was left to sink forgotten into the sand for the next 40 years…until a chance discovery in 1980 that would ultimately see it take to the skies once more.
After being recovered by military aircraft enthusiasts, the plane was later sold to a multibillionaire American collector. Millions was invested to return the aircraft to flight when Spitfire Mk I P9374 (registered G-MKIA) made two fifteen minute flights on 1st September 2011.
It’s the first time P9374 has flown in 71 years, making it the world’s oldest surviving airworthy Mk1 Spitfire.
Unfortunately, the special flight will never be seen by Cazenove who passed away just weeks before the spitfire was discovered.
According to military historian Andy Saunders, who has written a book on P9374 to be released by Grub Street publishers at the end of the 2011, Cazenove even said to his wife ‘I wonder what ever happen to my spitfire,’ not long before passing away.
Current location – Historic Flying Ltd, Duxford - Airworthy