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The Hamble-le-Rice ATA Memorial Spitfire

The initial idea for the Hamble-le-Rice ATA Memorial was proposed by Tony Bray of Netley to BP Oil UK Ltd (Hamble-le-Rice)) and the Hamble-le-Rice Parish Council in the autumn of 2008.

The original design idea for the memorial was visualised by Barry Miles in 2008.

In 2009 GE Aviation (Hamble-le-Rice) welcomed the opportunity to show their engineering expertise to manufacture the 1 metre wing spanned spitfire from aluminium which was kindly donated by Thyssen Krupp Aerospace. GE Aviation enlisted the willing assistance of Justin Adams of who generously donated his time and expertise to produce diagrams of the Spitfire from which the programmers could establish the cuts using their machines. After the initial engineering the fuselage and wing sections where precisely joined and then Spitfire was meticulously polished following hours and hours of hard work.

The team at GE Aviation who have been involved with the manufacture are (in alphabetical surname order) Chris Apletree, Bob Attree, Pauline Bower, Pete Clegg, Adam Harfield, Dan Hickman, Chris Hodson, Mike Neave, Pete Newcombe, Todd Powers, Phil Ratcliffe, Ian Russell, John Savage, Danny Small, Martin Stratton, Ben Sutton, Derek Walbridge, Pete Williams.

The welsh slate rock base for the Memorial was sourced after extensive hunting for the suitable piece by Scott (surname to be added) and was delivered and installed by Glen (surname to be added) at Silverland Stone in Fair Oak, Eastleigh.

The Plaque for the memorial was engraved on a 400mm x 300mm x 1.5mm sheet of Stainless Steel by Andy Alcock and Andy Cavill from Appleton Signs in Hedge End, Southampton.

The creation of the Memorial would not have been possible without the involvement of  (in alphabetical surname order) David Airey, Maureen Blackman, Richard Clarke, Martin Coulson, Kate Cullen, Mark Cullen, Mike Davies, David Dawes, Peter Garrod, Richard Poad, John Willsmore, Justyn Willsmore.

The date of unveiling (10th July 2010) was selected at it is the 70th anniversary of the start of the 'Battle of Britain'.


Before GE Aviation could start the manufacture of the Spitfire they needed specific diagrams. Justin Adams from Spitfire 3D offered his years of engineering expertise to produce the required designs from his accumulated plans. Justin summarises the CAD design process.

CAD modelling of the Hamble-le-Rice ATA Memorial Spitfire

Computer aided design (CAD) allows us to make full scale three dimensional models in virtual space, of anything we want to design and make. This facility has been around for 30 years or so and is used mostly in engineering, but also nowadays in the movie and advertising industry use the technology for making realistic space ships, machines and even the dinosaurs that appear on our TV and cinema screens today. In engineering we use such models to prove a design can work. All such models can be tested by computational methods before we actually make them.

The Spitfire is being CAD modelled to existing Vickers Supermarine drawings. However, as some of the original detail drawings are missing we combined information from accurate CAD models produced from the existing drawings, and dimensions from parts of existing Spitfire parts, and were able to recreate enough accurate dimensional information to make the parts that have missing drawings.

Once the CAD models exist, they can be easily altered or scaled up or down. The models can be processed further, and sent to machines that can mill them from raw materials. The accuracy of the CAD model is thus transferred to new parts.

The external CAD surfaces of the Spitfire were sent by email to GE Aviation in Hamble-le-Rice, and they decided how to break down the model into sensible parts that could be machined from solid aluminium.


The ATA Memorial Spitfire – How it was made by GE Aviation

The mission. An unusual request was received at GE Aviation’s Hamble plant towards the end of 2009 – supply a 1metre wingspan Spitfire for a memorial in honour of the ATA.

Material selection. Several methods of manufacture were considered; buying a commercially available model, moulding from carbon fibre or machining from solid stainless steel or aluminium. No suitable 1-metre wingspan Spitfire models are available on the open market other than flying models and they were considered too fragile to use as a memorial. The carbon fibre option was initially favourite, particularly with this material now rapidly taking over from metals for aircraft manufacture, but it was felt that a carbon plane would require painting for long term protection and this would conceal the carbon fibre would defeat the point of making it in this material. That left machining from solid metal as the most promising avenue to pursue. After careful consideration aluminium was chosen as it is readily available, easy to machine and ideally suited to GE Hamble’s manufacturing processes. The aluminium billets were kindly donated by ThyssenKrupp Aerospace. 

Drawings, what drawings? The traditional methods of aircraft manufacture have always involved thousands of highly detailed drawings but in these modern times the drawing has given way to the computer.

To manufacture the Spitfire, GE required a three dimensional computer model to machine the aircrafts component parts. After an extensive internet search only one company was found that could supply the high quality computer models required – Spitfire 3D. Contact was made and the required models were kindly donated by Justin Adams for free.

Manufacture. Once received the computer models were scaled down to meet the required 1 metre wingspan, fine detail such as panel lines removed and split lines established so that Spitfire could be machined from several small aluminium blocks rather than one large one. The advantages of this method are that the blocks are easier to handle and there is less material waste. The computer models were then passed to the machine shop computer programmers who generated computerised cutting paths that are loaded directly into the computer controlled milling machines enabling them to machine to the exact shape of the computer model of the aircraft.

Once the machining was complete the individual components were cleaned up, polished and bonded together.

The above process of manufacture features the very latest manufacturing technology that is used to manufacture machined metallic parts for the current generation of civil and military aircraft.

All who contributed to the manufacture of the Spitfire at GE Aviation Hamble thoroughly enjoyed the task and would like to thank Hamble-le-Rice Parish Council and BP Oil UK Ltd (Hamble) for the opportunity to help out in such a noble and worthwhile cause.


The Base of the Memorial

The Welsh slate rock base for the Memorial was sourced after extensive hunting for the suitable piece by Scott (surname to be added) from Silverland Stone in Fair Oak. It was delivered and installed on the 22 June 2010 by Glen (surname to be added) (left) from Silverland, Eastleigh, with the invaluable help of Mark Cullen (centre) from BP Oil UK Ltd (Hamble), and Richard Clarke from Hamble-le-Rice Parish Council (right). Thanks also to Alan Brice, Neil Crook, Russell Gilbert and Mickey Finn and the BP Marine Dept, as well as Guy Hemsley, Katie Mummery and Neville (surname to be added) from Fisher German for their assistance with the instillation of the Memorial.


The Spitfire at GE Aviation (Hamble) 22 June 2010

To mark the instillation of the base and the completion of the Spitfire the GE team hosted an unveiling reception for representatives of those involved with the Hamble-le-Rice ATA Memorial, the guest of honour was Peter Garrod, ex ATA pilot, Hamble-le-Rice resident, and Commodore of the ATA Association.

The people surrounding the Spitfire in the photo are:

1 Kate Cullen (HPC); 2 John Savage (GE); 3 Mike Davies (HPC); 4 Danny Small (GE); 5 Peter Garrod (ATA); 6 Bob Attree (GE); 7 Pete Williams (GE); 8 Phil Ratcliffe (GE); 9 Pete Newcombe (GE); 10 Derek Walbridge (GE); 11 Martin Stratton (GE); 12 Chris Apletree (GE); 13 Ian Russell (GE); 14  Dan Hickman (GE); 15 Ken MacCallum (BP); 16 Ben Sutton (GE).

Pauline Bower, Pete Clegg, Adam Harfield, Chris Hodson and Todd Powers from GE were unfortunately away when the photo was taken.


John Phillipson (Prodrill), Dan Hickman (GE Aviation), Chris Apletree (GE Aviation), Guy Phillipson (Prodrill).