Year of manufacture2020
"During the Second World War, the skies above Kent buzzed with dog fights; ME109s and Britain’s classic Supermarine Spitfire locked in mortal combat. The Messerschmitt was simply outclassed and hence the Battle of Britain was won by the ground crew and pilots of Fighter Command. The Spitfire has remained in the subconscious and is still remembered as one of the most sublime designs ever penned, its shape and engine note, the most moving of symphonies.
These exquisite machines were often paid for by charitable donations and this one was originally funded by the Hinckley Hosiery Company and built as a single seat fighter at the Castle Bromwich factory in 1944. She entered service later that year with 33 Squadron based at Merville, Northern France. Her primary tasking was ground support of offensive operations often engaging in strafing attacks on enemy rail and road forces. The 4th May 1945 was PV202’s last operational flight, taking her total to 96 operational sorties. Post war, she was restored by Steve Atkins to her current twin-seat configuration and is flying passengers at air shows around the UK.
It is unsurprising that when the Triumph motorcycle brand was relaunched, the factory should be located in Hinckley as well. This represented then, the Triumph Hinckley Spitfire Bonneville, a tribute to Hinckley, a tribute to the glorious Spitfire and the men who flew them and a tribute to Triumph themselves who built and donated this fabulous machine free of charge, to be auctioned with all proceeds going to charity. It was during the build, in fact, that some aluminium was taken from the Spitfire restoration and used in this Bonneville build.
This bespoke T120 motorcycle with a high torque 1200cc engine includes Brembo front calipers and Nissin rears as well as twin rear suspension units with pre-load adjustment. Needless to say, the coachwork is a one-off and reflects the camouflage pattern of the Spitfire with a nod to the roundels of the RAF.
The reason for this motorcycle’s appearance however, is not just to show off the creator’s art - although it is not inconsiderable - but to draw attention to a charity called Aerobility.
This charity provides access to aviation for anyone with any disability. They do this because taking to the skies and taking the controls of an aircraft provides relief from the restrictions of disability that cannot be achieved any other way. Aerobility takes to the skies with up to 1000 individuals a year, 30% of whom are wounded, injured or sick members of our armed forces.
The experience encourages the question ‘if I can fly an aeroplane, what else can I do?’ and it delivers benefits that extend far beyond the airfield. It is fitting that two such British icons of freedom and determination to overcome adversity, will once again, through this auction, continue to inspire hope and provide help to individuals in overcoming their personal challenges. Aerobility helps them into the skies.
The motorbike is, of course, great but the pleasure of release from a wheelchair is indescribable.www.aerobility.comRegistered charity number 1149629
Photography with grateful thanks to Richard Deakin