Mr Dominic Berry, Head of Art and Design, started The Ratcliffe Spitfire project in 2011. The College owns the land that was once Ratcliffe Aerodrome, and during the war, this was No.6 Ferry Pool for the ATA who flew over 50,000 flights from there in that time. The die was cast for a Spitfire replica build and it was soon discovered that an old boy from the school had flown Spitfires during the war, and was tragically killed towards the end of 1940 by none other than German Fighter Ace Helmut Wick. In fact, the pilot, Paul Baillon was Wick’s last kill, seconds before Fl. Lt John Dundas shot him down.
The project, known as The Ratcliffe Spitfire, has been very enthusiastically taken up by the students, but is a long process and the average age of those involved is about 13yrs. The students need to be taught how to hold tools properly before even using them, but that is all part of the project. A unique project where children are building a replica Spitfire.
The bulk of the aircraft is being constructed from wood, to a tolerance of +-0.5mm. Some parts will be metal, like the pilot door and some cockpit/canopy parts.
This is a massively ambitious project, but it is working, and capturing the imagination of not only those young minds involved, but also parents and the media. The project has been featured in a number of newpapers, radio interviews and national as well as local television news.