The biggest Airfix Spitfire model ever, assembled and painted, is rolled out from the hangar at Cosford
The Airfix Spitfire made its way to BBC – thanks to Top Gear star presenter James May and his new show Toy Stories. This series aims to to prove that traditional, old fashioned toys are still relevant in the age of video games and the Internet.
Airfix kits formed a memorable hobby experience of May’s own childhood, and they also became the subject of the first episode of his show, with the historic Airfix Spitfire playing a central role. But not just a tiny 1/72 kit itself; James took a chance of up-scaling it to 1/1 scale replica, albeit delivered in 25 parts, as per Airfix original instructions, complete with a pilot figure!
All this would not have come true without the able assistance by local schoolchildren from Telford. The life-size model, delivered on “sprues” as per original Airfix kit layout, was built over the course of three days in hangar no. 1 of RAF Cosford museum. Work involved gluing the fuselage halves, positioning of wings, the propeller and of course painting the colour scheme.
A team of 40 people were on site to film an episode of the programme. With many curious onlookers the event developed to a something of an Airfix picnic. Among the teenagers who had a surprise encounter with James May and his passion for Spitfires was Luke Carter, 18, a flight staff cadet at 633VGS based at RAF Cosford.
Not only did the presenter chat to the Cadet about the programme he also enquired about Luke’s time in the Air Cadets and his love for flying. Then James May invited all the Cadets on the Gliding Scholarship course at 633VGS to the unveiling of the life size model and they were surprised to find themselves in shot on more than three occasions during the programme.
Luke Carter said: “It was quite an experience seeing the show being filmed and great to see the full episode on television. I was very surprised to see myself on the programme as I was only a spectator in the background”
As James May said, it was a part of history – if only the history of Airfix. The first episode of Toy Stories was aired on 27 October, 2009.