Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia N3200 | Imperial War Museum

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Duxford
  • OWNER: Imperial War Museum
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1939
  • LENGTH:  29 ft 11 in/9.12 m
  • WINGSPAN: 36 ft 10 in/11.23 m
  • ENGINE: Rolls-Royce Merlin II(XII) 
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:  557 kmh/346 mph
  • RANGE: 668 km/415 miles
  • ARMAMENT: 8 X 7.69-mm machine guns in the wing

Built at Vickers Armstrong (Supermarine) Ltd Southampton in early 1939, Spitfire N3200 left the production line as part of a batch of 200 aircraft configured as MK1A and was delivered to 8MU RAF Little Rissington on the 2nd December 1939 and was subsequently issued to 19 Squadron on the 19th April 1940 (CodeQV-) based at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

On 26th May the RAF sent all available aircraft to support the evacuation of Dunkirk to bring back the stranded British Expeditionary Force. No. 19 Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson piloted Spitfire N3200 on its first and only operation as he led his squadron on a patrol to cover the evacuation of Allied forces. After shooting down a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber, Spitfire N3200 received some bullet strikes, one of which holed the radiator. With his engine seized, Stephenson put the stricken Spitfire down on the beach at Sangatte, near Calais and after making a successful escape he was eventually captured by the Germans in Brussels 9 days later. Stephenson remained a prisoner for the rest of the war, including a period spent at Colditz Castle, while his Spitfire gradually sank under the sand.

Nothing was seen of Spitfire N3200 until 1986 when strong currents revealed it, more than 45 years after it sank. In spring of that year the wreckage was excavated by a French group and though largely intact, very few parts could be salvaged. The remains went on display for the next decade or so at the famous underground V-3 Museum at la Forteresse de Mimoyecques before Simon Marsh and Thomas Kaplan brought her back to the UK in 2000 where she was put into storage until 2007 when her restoration started.

Spitfire N3200 completed restoration to flying condition and returned to the air in 2014, proudly wearing the same livery she wore when she was with 19 Squadron flying from Duxford. She was donated to the Imperial War Museum in 2015 and is currently based at the IMW Duxford, regularly appearing at airshows around the country.

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