Castle Bromwich Spitfire and Lancaster Factory in Pictures

Spitfire Site

Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory, of CBAF in short, was the largest aircraft production plant in the wartime Britain, and had become the main manufacturing ...

Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory, of CBAF in short, was the largest aircraft production plant in the wartime Britain, and had become the main manufacturing source of the two most successful British aircraft types of the war, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Avro Lancaster.

In 1936, the British government had formalised a plan under the Air Ministry to increase capacity within Britain’s aircraft industry. Part of the program was funding a brand-new aircraft production facility near the Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, based on a notion that the local Birmingham skills-base and production techniques used in the manufacture of motor vehicles could be transferred to large-scale aircraft production.

The main facility was completed in 1939, to a cost of a whopping £4,000,000. The first Spitfires Mk. II left the production line in June 1940, not before some severe organisational problems and multiple delays had been sorted out.

The first CBAF Lancaster was flown on 22 October 1943. Its production lifted CBAF to become the largest and most successful plant of its type during the 1939-45 conflict.

Thanks to the generous donation of Mr. Chris Taylor, we have received a photocopy of an album owned by his grandfather, Charles Edward Taylor. Mr. Taylor worked in a management position at the factory, and the album seems to have been a commemorative piece containing many official photos of the works.

They are a unique document of a past era in industrial production – on a scale which is mind-boggling even today.

All photos in this gallery are credited to [Charles Edward Taylor Collection].

Enjoy the tour of the factory – Click on any image to begin

20 Comments | Add New

By Julie Marano  |  2016-05-19 at 23:51  |  permalink

Hi, I have a customer who is looking for any books on the Castle Bromwich Aircraft factory. He specifically wanted to know why it took so long for the factory to start producing and there was mention above about some problems. Does anyone know of specifics or a book that can explain that? I would appreciate any help.

Many thanks
Julie
Noosa Book Shop
Australia

By Dave Key  |  2016-06-07 at 10:56  |  permalink

Hi Julie,

There are many stories, and I have my own opinions, but you asked for books.

My personal opinion is that there is, as I suspect you have found, surprisingly little written, and what is written has definitely had something of a gloss added over some of the less ‘glorious’ aspects of the Spitfire story … but such is history.

I too would like to see more of the detail, indeed I am working on it as I type, but more research is needed. So if you, or anyone else, can help… I too would be very interested to hear from them!

Anyway, for me The most interesting, and easily obtainable, book is ‘Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend’ by Leo McKinstry who takes a close look at the failures of Castle Bromwich in the lead up to the Battle of Britain and suggests some reasons for them.

If you want a sympathic, and different, assessment see if you can get hold of ‘Never a dull moment at Supermarine, A personal history’ by Denis Le P Webb who was a Supermariner through and through, and although not at Castle Bromwich his assessment is worth reading. Denis’ book could have done with an extra prof read (I should talk!!) but it is, like the other books by Russell and Griff’, the opinions of those who were actually there at the time and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Supermarine.

Hope that helps?

Regards
Dave

By Dave Key  |  2016-06-07 at 11:06  |  permalink

Rereading this thread, and thinking about Julie’s question made me wonder.

Several people have mentioned relatives who worked at Castle Bromwich but most appear to have been late in the war, i.e. 1941+

I was wondering if there is anyone, or anyone knows of anyone, who worked there when it was under the control of Nuffield between 1938 and 1940? Or anyone whose relatives did?

If so, I’d be very interested in talking to them!

Regards
Dave

Volunteer historian at Hursley Park (HQ to Supermarine Design and Production from late 1940 until 1958)

By Patricia Boden  |  2016-08-22 at 13:38  |  permalink

Hi,

My father was a tool setter and went to work making spitfires in 1938. If you want to contact me re his job early on e-mail me. I am in Cyprus.

Pat

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