On 9 July 2015, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, Christie’s London will be auctioning an unique and remarkable piece of British history: an authentic and immaculately restored Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1A – P9374/G-MK1A. The Spitfire will be offered in “The Exceptional Sale” with an estimate of £1,500,000-2,500,000.
In September 1980 the wreckage of Spitfire P9374 emerged from the sands of Calais beach where it had crash-landed after being shot down on 24 May 1940 during the air battle of Dunkirk. Flying Officer Peter Cazenove, later a veteran of the ‘Great Escape’, was flying the aircraft when it was attacked and hit. Before executing his belly-landing on Calais beach, Cazenove had radioed that he was OK, adding, ‘Tell mother I’ll be home for tea!’
Cazenove was captured as a Prisoner of War, while Spitfire P9374 was consumed by successive tides and sunk deeper into the sands. Sadly, Cazenove passed away shortly before the recovery of his aircraft.
For more on the history of Spitfire P9374 and the remarkable story of its painstaking restoration, see Christie’s full interactive documentary presentation, featuring videos, interviews and picture galleries.
There are only two remaining Mk.1 models restored to the original specification and still flying today, P9374 and N3200, both belonging to the American philanthropist and art collector Thomas Kaplan. As part of a generous gift, Spitfire P9374 will be sold at Christie’s to benefit the RAF Benevolent Fund and Panthera. Spitfire N3200 will be going to the Imperial War Museum Duxford. ‘As history tells us all,’ says Kaplan, ‘there comes a time when one simply has to step up… to act with passion, and to remember with gratitude the few that actually do.’