IWM – Spitfire IA
From Tottenham via Bakerloo Line to Elephant and Castle, then a 4 block walk past the Notre Dame Language School for Girls to the former Bedlam, and now the Imperial War Museum. The exhibits open were the Holocaust Exhibit which was extremely moving, even though I had seen it before, Lawrence of Arabia, which I didn’t see, for lack of time and fading energy, and the MI-5, MI-6 James Bond Exhibit, which was worth seeing on the theme of Truth being more fascinating than Fiction, though insufficient depth is possible in the brief time and space available.
My concentration was on World War II aircraft and on the Spitfire IA of Noel Agazarian, whom I felt I knew, or at least had been introduced to by Patrick Bishop, in “Fighter Boys,” an absolutely compelling description of the young men who fought in the Battle of Britain. I felt that I had more than the skeleton of information already, from my preoccupation. I felt that I had the muscles and tendons in place. Bishop adds the muscles of facial expression, the emotional connection to the individuals. Agazarian was a public school boy (our private schools) at Dulwich and then went on to Wadham College, Oxford, leaving with a boxing blue and a law degree. He went into the RAF Voluntary Reserve and 609 Squadron, and scored 2 victories in this plane. The museum placard states, “This Spitfire Mark IA R6915 joined No. 609 (West Riding) Squadron, stationed at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, in July 1940. It was flown by thirteen different pilots on fifty seven operational sorties during the Battle of Britain. It accounted for two German aircraft, shared in the destruction of two more and damaged a further four. Its most frequent and successful pilot was Pilot Officer Noel Agazarian who claimed all the victories except two of the “damaged” credits. On two occasions he had to force land the aircraft after it was damaged by enemy fire. The aircraft was transferred to the Museum in 1946.”
There are quite a few interesting planes suspended from the ceiling including a Focke Wulf FW 190 A8, a P-51D Mustang that is in beautiful condition, a First World War BE-2 and Sopwith Camel.
Some selected photos follow.