During the pandemic the media often compared what we were going through to World War Two and the Blitz, the “Blitz Spirit”, and this provided an idea for a layer of back story – to make the pins from 1940 Spitfire aircraft Duralumin, a kind of aluminium, adding resonance and meaning, linking it with World War Two and our struggle for survival.
Over eighty years ago during the Battle of Britain of 1940 the pilots of RAF’s Fighter Command saved this country from enemy invasion during what Prime Minister Winston Churchill described as their “Finest Hour”, and there’s an undoubted synergy with what the NHS has been doing to battle the tyranny of Covid-19 to safeguard us all during their “Finest Hour”.
The legendary Spitfire has become an iconic national symbol of resilience, hope and freedom, perhaps more than any other man made object, and crafting the pins using metal from one of these machines is profound and inspiring.
“Whilst the pandemic isn’t a physical war, there are many parallels to the experiences that communities and front-line workers endured during World War Two,” comments founder of TMB Art Metal, Christopher Bennett. “I wanted to bring two iconic symbols from these wars over 80 years apart together to create a collectable pin that represents the nation’s gratitude for all NHS workers’ sacrifice and bravery, whilst raising significant funds for NHS Charities Together.”
The metal used in the creation of The “Thank You” Pin originates from Spitfire “P7350”, owned and operated by the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. P7350 first flew in August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, survived WW2 and is today the oldest most original and historically significant airworthy Spitfire in existence.
After decades of operation some of the vital Duralumin (aluminium) components can become weak and if aircraft such as P7350 are to remain airworthy require replacement. In 2008 the Spitfire underwent restoration during which a quantity of original components were removed, namely her wing ‘main spar’ and various pieces of outer skinning and other items, and it is of this genuine 1940 ex-P7350 provenance metal that our historic “Thank You” Pins are crafted.
The Spitfire’s wing is a true engineering marvel in its own right, and here can be seen the upper and lower main spar stubs that bolt wing to fuselage.
P7350’s original spars date to September 1939. The main spar is the strong load bearing backbone of the aircraft, running along the wing and connecting it to the fuselage. The spar is made up of concentric tubes providing strength with flexibility, essential to absorb and tolerate the high g-forces incurred in aerial combat whilst avoiding fracture. At the root there’s five tubes (with central plug) which diminish as it’s required strength reduces to just half a tube at the wing tip.