Friday 30 October 2020
  • STEM
  • Age 9-11 (KS2)
    Age 11-14 (KS3)

The Spitfire is one of the most iconic aircraft in the world even though it first flew over 80 years ago. Behind that sleek design, speed and extensive history is a very effective machine - one that utilises the laws of physics and mathematics that means it still flies as well today as it did in the 1940’s.

Join IWM experts Ngaire Bushell and John Delaney as they give you a special tour of IWM Duxford’s very own Spitfire. We’ll then ask you to complete an important challenge that proves maths and science are as important in keeping this aircraft flying as the pilot in the cockpit.

Chocks Away!

Teacher Notes

Download the teacher notes for Team Spitfire for tips and advice. This resource looks at scientific considerations used to keep the Spitfire in the air and how a lot of these decisions are made on the ground: in particular, speed, power and fuel. The downloadable resource encourages students to engage with a virtual stunt display in order to thrill the audiences watching, but to also make sure the aircraft lands safely.

Curriculum Links

Find out more about how this resource is mapped against some of the themes and content topics found in the curricula for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Suggested Activities

Watch the video presented by IWM expert John Delaney and starring Spitfire N3200. You may choose to watch the film a second time and encourage students to take notes.

Download and print the worksheets and ask the students to calculate the answers. You may wish to put the students into teams of Team Spitfire! ground crew or ask them to work individually.

Check your answers here.

Tell your students that they have been asked to explain their calculations to a display pilot and they will need to prepare a presentation which will describe their display and calculations to prove to the test pilots that they should have full confidence that the display will have enough fuel to make it a success and to get them safely back down onto the tarmac of the runaway!

Ask your students to draw a Spitfire display flight path whilst bearing in mind the amount of fuel their display manoeuvres use – there is a table of manoeuvres and fuel use at the end of the worksheet for students to refer to. They must keep some fuel for landing, taxi and reserve.

Explore More

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The Fascinating Story Of Duxford And The Spitfire

Duxford and the Supermarine Spitfire have a shared history. RAF Duxford's No. 19 Squadron was the first RAF squadron to re-equip with the new Supermarine Spitfire, and the first Spitfire was flown into RAF Duxford in August 1938
Pilot Officers Jan "Donald Duck" Zumbach (left) and Mirosław "Ox" Ferić playing with the Squadron's mascot
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The Polish Pilots Who Flew In The Battle Of Britain

On 1 September 1939 the German Army, supported by the Air Force (Luftwaffe) and Navy (Kriegsmarine) invaded Poland from three sides. Polish defences, already strained under a powerful and innovative German assault, collapsed shortly after the Soviets launched their own invasion from the east on 17 September. 
Squadron Leader Brian 'Sandy' Lane of 19 Squadron (centre) confers with Flight Lieutenant Walter 'Farmer' Lawson and Flight Sergeant George 'Grumpy Unwin at Fowlmere near Duxford, September 1940.
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