Supermarine Spitfire Mark IAs, (N3289 ‘DW-K and R6595 ‘DW-O’ nearest), of No 610 Squadron, Royal Air Force based at Biggin Hill, Kent, flying in three 'vic' formations Credit Imperial War Museum © IWM (CH 740)

The Supermarine Spitfire is widely acknowledged as the iconic aircraft that won the Battle of Britain, and ultimately influenced the outcome of the Second World War.

Forces Radio BFBS' Amy Casey interviewed historian Paul Beaver about the extraordinary women who designed, perfected, built and flew the aircraft that would become the symbol of victory.

This special programme explores the timeline for the success of the Spitfire and the ladies who helped shape her.

Many history books who credit the creation of the Spitfire to RJ Mitchell and occasionally his team, make little or no mention of these women.

Amy looks into the Spitfire's inception & funding from suffragettes like Lady Lucy Houston who financed work on the famous Rolls Royce engine and also the British entry into the Schneider Trophy.

Lady Lucy Houston Suffragette Black And White Credit © National Portrait Gallery, London
© National Portrait Gallery, London

This special programme also takes a look at the women in the Supermarine drawing office, the incredible engineers that perfected her like Beatrice "Tilly" Shilling who enabled air agility for pilots with a simple device to help airflow in the Spitfire's carburettor.

Tilly, one of the first female engineers working with the RAF, rode around on a motorbike she handbuilt to different squadrons to conduct work on the aircraft.

And we also focus on the work of Pauline Gower (pictured waving from the cockpit of a de Havilland Tiger Moth) who not only set up the female side of the Air Transport Auxiliary but ensured for the first time ever that women got equal pay for equal work.

Pauline Gower, Commandant of the Air Transport Auxiliary Women's Section, waving from the cockpit of a de Havilland Tiger Moth at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, prior to a delivery flight, 10 January 1940. Credit © IWM (C 380)
© IWM (C 380)

These women all played extraordinary roles towards the final victory in the Battle Of Britain.

This programme fondly tells the story of the aircraft that was taken to the heart of Britain, and which has remained there ever since.

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