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Volunteers restoring Spitfire which could be seen on Google Earth

PUBLISHED: 14:28 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 30 October 2019

A satellite picture of Heacham, seen on Google Earth, shows the unmistakable shape of a Spitfire in a back garden  Picture: Google/Danielle Booden

A satellite picture of Heacham, seen on Google Earth, shows the unmistakable shape of a Spitfire in a back garden Picture: Google/Danielle Booden

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Even through the grainy satellite picture, its iconic outline is unmistakable.

Barry Griggs repainting the Spitfire at the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum at Wisbech  Picture: Chris BishopBarry Griggs repainting the Spitfire at the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum at Wisbech Picture: Chris Bishop

Google Earth users who chance across a Second World War Spitfire on the outskirts of a Norfolk village might be forgiven for wondering what it is doing there.

The answer leads to a unique collection of aircraft and memorabilia, mostly from the Second World War, tucked away behind a garden centre and retail park.

Barry Griggs repainting the Spitfire at the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum  Picture: Chris BishopBarry Griggs repainting the Spitfire at the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum Picture: Chris Bishop

The replica fighter was being restored in the back garden of an aviation enthusiast, who lived in Heacham.

Paul Linsell obtained the full-sized fibreglass mock-up from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford seven years ago, after it was blown over and damaged in a storm.

The Spitfire is one of a number of aircraft on display at the museum, off the Old Lynn Road  Picture: Chris BishopThe Spitfire is one of a number of aircraft on display at the museum, off the Old Lynn Road Picture: Chris Bishop

In April, it was moved on loan to the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum on the outskirts of Wisbech, where volunteers are now refurbishing it.

"Paul at Heacham bought it and had it on his lawn but his wife got a bit cheesed off with it," said museum secretary Bill Welbourne.

A Cold War Lightning fighter, which flew from RAF Coltishall at the West Norfolk and Fenland Aviation Museum at Wisbech  Picture: Chris BishopA Cold War Lightning fighter, which flew from RAF Coltishall at the West Norfolk and Fenland Aviation Museum at Wisbech Picture: Chris Bishop

"So he came to us to see if we'd have it on display."

Volunteer Barry Griggs was up a ladder repainting the camouflage on the 1940s warplane's nose.

A De Havilland Vampire, which must be kept under cover because it is made from Balsa wood  Picture: Chris BishopA De Havilland Vampire, which must be kept under cover because it is made from Balsa wood Picture: Chris Bishop

"You're not going to turn down a Spitfire, are you?" he said.

Mr Welbourne added: "We've got a couple of crashed Spitfires in the museum, so it's a tribute to the pilots of those aircraft."

The Spitfire under restoration at Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum, in Wisbech  Picture: Chris BishopThe Spitfire under restoration at Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum, in Wisbech Picture: Chris Bishop

He said the centre hoped to have the aircraft completely restored over the winter while it is closed to visitors, ready to go on display when it reopens in March.

Other exhibits at the museum, on the Old Lynn Road, include a Cold War Lightning fighter which flew from RAF Coltishall, a De Havilland Vampire and the cockpit and sections of a Shackleton coastal reconaissance aircraft.

Displays in the museum include hundreds of model aircraft  Picture: Chris BishopDisplays in the museum include hundreds of model aircraft Picture: Chris Bishop

Inside there are engines, guns, wheels and countlesss other parts from some of the many aircraft which crashed in West Norfolk and the Fens during the Second World War.

"We started off as an aviation archaeology society," said retired engineer Mr Welbourne, 73. "But we got to the point where all this stuff was in people's sheds and garages, so we said we'd have to find somewhere to store it, or pack up."

The remains of an engine from a Lancaster Bomber, which crashed near Peterborough in 1944  Picture: Chris BishopThe remains of an engine from a Lancaster Bomber, which crashed near Peterborough in 1944 Picture: Chris Bishop

A Rolls Royce Merlin engine, which can still be cranked by hand  Picture: Chris BishopA Rolls Royce Merlin engine, which can still be cranked by hand Picture: Chris Bishop

Remains of a Second World War Mosquito fighter bomber, which were found in The Wash near King's Lynn in 2004  Picture: Chris BishopRemains of a Second World War Mosquito fighter bomber, which were found in The Wash near King's Lynn in 2004 Picture: Chris Bishop

A replica dashboard from a Spitfire in the museum  Picture: Chris BishopA replica dashboard from a Spitfire in the museum Picture: Chris Bishop



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