Friday, November 12, 2010

Howard Hughes' Supermarine Spitfire

A Spitfire on the River Seine during the Battle of Britain
 that has been camouflaged to look like a Cessna 182
One of the most famous planes of World War 2 was

 the Supermarine Spitfire, which was used before

 and during the war by the air forces of England,

Scotland, Canada, Australia, Wales, Ireland, Poland,

South Africa, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, and the

Hsutsu tribe of the Upper Congo.  One of the main

 reasons for the plane's great success was its
powerplant, the Merlin engine.  Some credit the design of

 this engine to Mr. Eugene Merlin of St. Falls, Iowa, while others credit the design to the reclusive

 Howard Hughes, who in this instance may have used the pen name "Packard". (Packard of course was

an upper-class stone outcrop on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  As is well known, the Pilgrims

decided to land at the less expensive Plymouth Rock on Thanksgiving Day).

Whatever its origin,  whether we choose to believe the romantic tales of some English historians who

claim that the aircraft

 was first flown in England by English pilots, instead of  the accepted theory that it was designed by noted air ace

Adolph Galland, we can be proud of its history.   To meet the wartime demand,  Henry Ford built a huge factory at Willow Run,

Oregon, where Spitfires were assembled in large quantities.  They were then flown non-stop across the Atlantic

Ocean to the battlefields in Europe by Lord Beaverbrook and other pilots.

After World War 2, some Spitfires were converted to passenger planes and used by such airlines as

Trans Continental Airways on the heavily traveled Ellesmere Island-to-Rarotonga run.

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