Preparing To Scramble PLQ1

Preparing To Scramble PLQ1

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8x16 plaque excluding frame Paul Hilditch

In the art of Moorcroft, there is a first in everything. This time, it is an aircraft which makes its debut, but not just any old aircraft. Instead, designer Paul Hilditch chose to work with the Spitfire, probably the most famous and most respected aircraft of all time. The unveiling of Preparing to Scramble in the 2013 Catalogue is well-timed with the Moorcroft centenary in mind. However, Hilditch resisted the temptation to involve his aircraft in aerial combat. Instead, they are on the ground with an army of mechanics and engineers working their magic in readiness for a call to action.

Paul has a good reason to single out the mechanics and the engineers as the heroes this time round. The Spitfire was the brainchild of Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE FRAeS, (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society) one of our most celebrated aeronautical engineers. Mitchell was born in 115 Congleton Road, Butt Lane, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent where he attended Hanley Grammar School. By 1919, he had become Chief Designer at Supermarine Aviation in Southampton, later acquired by Vickers. Although he died of cancer at the age of 42 his basic design was so sound that the Spitfire was continually improved throughout the Second World War. In all, more than 22,000 Spitfires and derivatives were built.

Paul’s decision to focus on the mechanics and engineers is, in a sense, homage to R J Mitchell, a local hero in every sense of the word. Three aircraft are flying past in a sky flecked with white clouds. The landscape is silent and flat, a backcloth to a drama that was repeated time and time again throughout the War.