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The story of the St Ives Presentation Spitfire booklet is packed full of the research we have collated for BL709 – the ‘St Ives’ presentation spitfire, during our construction of this historical aircraft. BL709 is a faithful, non-flying replica of the original aircraft which was first finished in February 1942. To commemorate the plane’s construction, a plaque was issued to the town reading: ‘In the hour of peril, the people of St Ives earned the gratitude of the British nations, sustaining the valour of the Royal Air Force and fortifying the cause of freedom by the gift of a Spitfire Aircraft.’
BL709 was a Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vb with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine. It joined Squadron 340, also known as the ‘Free French’ and part of the Groupe de Chasse ‘Île-de-France’, a group of French pilots who had escaped occupied France to join the Allied fight.
Read all about the fundraising efforts of this small fishing town which helped to support the war effort, the short-lived but courageous career of the aircraft and the pilots that flew her and the impact on the arts scene of this Cornish community.