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Aerial display to honour the ‘Spitfire Generation’

written by Hannah Dowling | August 4, 2021
Temora Aviation Museum's Spitfire. (Phil Makanna)
Temora Aviation Museum’s Spitfire. (Phil Makanna)

WWII Spitfire pilots, ground crew and the men and women in support roles of the aircraft are to be celebrated at the Australian Spitfire Association’s 60th anniversary dinner and aerial display.

The association has dedicated its 60th anniversary celebration to honour what it calls ‘the Spitfire Generation’, and all the people that were key to the success of the WWII fighter.

Held in conjunction with the Temora Aviation Museum – which currently houses the very last Spitfire acquired by the RAAF – the anniversary dinner will take place in the museum hangar among the aircraft on Saturday, 9 October.

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According to the association, the dinner will feature stories and anecdotes from one of Australia’s remaining Spitfire pilots, as well as the announcement of the 2021 Spitfire Memorial Defence Fellow.

The dinner will also coincide with aerial displays, due to take place on both Saturday, 9 and Sunday, 10 October.

Guests are set to include the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC (Spitfire Memorial Defence Fellowship Patron), Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Mark Skidmore, AM (Spitfire Association Patron), and the Air Commander Australia (ACAUST) Air Vice-Marshal Joe ‘Vinny’ Iervasi, AM, CSC.

“The Spitfire Association remains strong, despite less than a handful of pilots and support crews remaining,” said Geoff Zuber, president of the Spitfire Association and son of a Spitfire pilot.

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“This is because we actively work to help Australia remain resilient and work to our motto of ‘Carry the Spirit Forward’ for the founders of the Association and all who were involved in the success of the Spitfire.”

Moving forward, the Spitfire Association hopes to both retain its heritage and preserve the memory of the Spitfire Generation, whilst continuing to grow and remain contemporary and relevant long into the future.

“Maintaining the right balance as we reshape is crucial. We are committed to ensuring that we forever remain a living, breathing memorial to the Spitfire generation, whilst Carrying their Spirit Forward,” concluded Zuber.

The all-metal, single-seat Spitfire fighter with its iconic elliptical wing became a symbol of national defiance during the Battle of Britain.

Technically though, its success was due to it being exceptionally manoeuvrable at altitudes above 4,500 metres, allowing it to gain the upper hand against the German’s also-outstanding Messerschmitt BF 109.

Altogether, 20,351 Spitfires were built in 40 major variants, of which 656 were delivered to the RAAF.

So anticipated was its arrival in 1942, Australia allocated the Spitfire the serial A58 and named it Capstan – after a popular cigarette – to keep its debut secret.

These fighters operated with Nos. 79 and 85 Squadrons and the redeployed Nos. 452 and 457 Squadrons, together with Spitfires from the British RAF Nos. 54, 548 and 549 Squadrons.

If you want to see one for yourself, the Temora Aviation Museum has the very last Spitfire acquired by the RAAF.

Best of all, A58-602 is still airworthy and is painted in the green and grey camouflage worn by aircraft defending Darwin during World War II and in operations in the south-west Pacific.

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