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the King of Lesotho
8 September 2016
full-size replica Spitfire is nearing completion in
a shed in Cornwall before being sent off to the
Kingdom of Lesotho.
Just opposite the Victoria Inn at Withiel is a
collection of small industrial units and inside the
Spitfire Heritage Trust is proudly putting the
finishing touches to a breathtakingly
authentic-looking re-creation of the famous Second
World War fighter aircraft.
To mark Battle of Britain Day next week, the
fibreglass craft will start its long journey to the
Kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa, where on
November 11 - Remembrance Day - it will help
celebrate the 50th anniversary of the tiny
landlocked country's Independence from Britain.
Lesotho's King, King Letsie III, will officially
receive the monument.
David Spencer Evans, the former RAF intelligence
officer behind the project, made moulds from a real
Spitfire to ensure that every detail is correct. It
has taken more than five years since the original
idea set the project in motion.
"The full-size replica Spitfire monument will be
mounted for public display in the capital of
Lesotho, Maseru," said David. "It is a Mk Vb, and
will be carrying the code letters of No.72
"The people of Lesotho were incredibly generous to
Britain, at the height of the Battle of Britain in
1940, and this is our way of saying thank you."
The initial proposal for the project was put to His
Royal Highness Prince Seeiso in 2010. Lesotho is one
of the unsung heroes of the Second World War. The
country, formerly known as Basutoland, presented
Britain with 24 Spitfire fighter aircraft -
sufficient to equip two entire RAF squadrons. This
was a disproportionately generous contribution from
a Commonwealth country the size of Wales with a
population of only 400,000 people.
The No. 72 (Basutoland) Squadron is one of the
relatively few Second World War squadrons that are
still in existence. With Prince Seeiso's support the
project was able to win backing from the Ministry of
Defence, which helped arrange a visit to the RAF at
The aircraft has been made by a small team of
volunteers, working from drawings, photographs and
models to get everything right. Next week, the wings
will be "unplugged" to get the aircraft out of its
make-shift "hangar" before it is loaded onto a
lorry, taken to Bristol and put aboard a ship bound
for southern Africa.
"Although I was in the RAF I've never flown a real
Spitfire," said David. "I'd love to have a go but so
far I haven't found anybody willing to lend me one.
"The Spitfire is much more than a vintage aircraft.
It is a Great British icon that symbolises the
coming together of all the nations of the
Banks in Lesotho
Banks in SA