Tail of Spitfire shot down over Norway goes on display in Henley

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Image source, Hoskins
Image caption,
The remains of Sandy’s Spitfire were laid out in Surnadal town hall in Norway

Part of a Spitfire which was shot down over Norway during World War Two has gone on display after being restored.

Spitfire AA810 was downed while on a mission to photograph the German battleship Tirpitz in March 1942. Pilot Flt Lt Alastair "Sandy" Gunn bailed out but was captured and later killed.

The plane was built at Vincents Garage, Reading, and first flew from Henley-on-Thames on 17 October 1941.

The tail is being displayed in Henley to mark 80 years since the test flight.

Image source, Hutchinson
Image caption,
The remains of AA810 arrived at Airframe Assemblies on the Isle of Wight in September 2019 in preparation for its rebuild
Image source, Tomlinson family
Image caption,
Spitfire AA810 was photographed in January, 1942 - five weeks later it would be shot down

The plane's remains were recovered back to a hangar in Sandown on the Isle of Wight from its crash site in a peat bog on a Norwegian mountain in 2018.

The Spitfire AA810 project is currently trying to raise a further £1.6m to finish the restoration and get the aircraft back in the air by 2024.

Image source, Hoskins
Image caption,
AA810’s main wing flaps were recovered from a mountain in Norway

Tony Hoskins, who is leading the warplane's restoration, said: "There are very few surviving examples of this particular type of aeroplane. We'd love to hear from people who might wish to help."

He said the unarmed Spitfires, which were fitted with several cameras, were used to "take photographs to gather intelligence, making rounds trips of around 2,000 miles from Oxfordshire".

Image source, Gunn Family
Image caption,
Alastair "Sandy" Gunn, seen here in November 1941, took part the famous Great Escape

The plane's pilot Flt Lt Gunn, who was 22, managed to bail out from the Spitfire after it was shot down.

Mr Hoskins said: "He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft III - became a tunneller and eared himself a slot in the Great Escape - he was on the run for two days but was picked up by the Gestapo. He ended up being shot aged just 24."

The Spitfire's tail will be on show in the market place from 10:00 to 17:00 BST.

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