One of the rarest Spitfires, piloted by an ill-fated 22-year-old Great Escape hero, has come home (Picture: Spitfire Heritage Gin).
The Norway recovery expedition has made it its mission to recover, return and restore the Spitfire which was lost during the Second World War.
The Spitfire AA810 still bears the scars of the fight that brought it down.
As a reconnaissance aircraft, it had been stripped of weaponry in favour of additional fuel capacity to give it a longer range.
The young man at the controls, Alastair Gunn, parachuted seconds from the snowline, making his escape.
His escape, however, was sadly short-lived.
The Spitfire will now carefully restored, before once again taking to the air.
Aircraft Engineer and historian Tony Hoskins put together the recovery expedition with Spitfire Heritage Gin.
He said: “This has been a long, challenging and yet hugely rewarding task.
“With hours spent in the National Archives, finding and providing proof of the AA810 was the aircraft we believed she was, getting the relevant permissions to transport her and finding the funding to achieve everything has all been incredibly time-consuming.
“Researching all the operational pilots of AA810 and their fascinating background stories has taken thousands of man hours but with great success.”
The project will mark the supreme, but largely unsung, courage and achievements of the young men of the WWII Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.
Spitfire Heritage Distillers CEO and Spitfire Heritage Trust vice-chair Ian Hewitt walked the Norwegian mountain shoulder-to-shoulder with Tony and his team, as he helped haul aircraft parts.
Mr Hewitt said: "I was on board from the very second Tony introduced me to the project.
“Travelling to the edge of the Arctic Circle to dig up and return the remains of a historically important Spitfire is the stuff of comic book 'Boys’ Own' dreams.
“I’d pretty much packed my rucksack before we’d finished the phone call.
“To have been a part of the expedition and to have actually pulled pieces of AA810 out of the ground and carried them down the mountain, to have seen the bullet holes and to have had the desperate last moments of Alastair’s flight brought to life by military historian Mark Khan... Is something that I will carry with me forever.”