Recovery and Restoration
It was in 1976 that the group of enthusiasts who were to form Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum first became aware that a Spitfire had crashed into Loch Doon during the war. Intrigued by the prospect of finding the aircraft, they soon had backing from Dumfries and Galloway Sub Aqua Club who were keen to help trace the lost fighter.
With permission from the Ministry of Defence, diving began in 1977. However, visibility was worse than anyone imagined, and below three metres the water was a dark, muddy soup. It was realised that a fingertip search of the floor of the Loch would be the only way to find the Spitfire. Several groups of divers helped in the search over the years but it wasn’t until May 1982, just before the search was to be abandoned, that a diver literally bumped into the fuselage lying on the floor of the loch. It was raised with airbags and taken ashore, leaving just the engine to be found. Having broken free from the cartwheeling Spitfire on impact with the water, the engine was eventually found by diver Peter Howieson who is now a volunteer at the museum. It had taken six years, 109 individual sub-aqua divers and 567 separate dives to locate the Spitfire, though no trace of the pilot was ever found.
Restoring a Spitfire is not a task normally undertaken by small aviation museums, and several individuals and groups were involved in our restoration over the years. The bulk of the final restoration work was carried out by the Aircraft Restoration Group, allowing us to unveil the aircraft to the public in July 2017. The engine has been restored and is displayed alongside the aircraft.
Since then, museum volunteers have continued to work on fitting out the aircraft including the cockpit. It is our intention that when Covid restrictions allow, visitors will be able to take a seat in this Battle of Britain veteran on special event days.