Carsphairn Archive

The Aircraft

During World War II a countrywide appeal went out for people to support their District Spitfire Fighting Fund. First they had to raise £5,000 in order to build one, then choose a name for it. Newmarket decided to support this Fund so stable lads from the famous racing stables started off by organising first a comedy football match followed by several jumble sales and together with the people of Newmarket enough money was raised by February 1941.

Their plane was named the Blue Peter after the 1939 Derby winner.

Blue Peter (GB).jpg
By Unknown author - Gooreen collection, Public Domain, Link

The children's TV Programme 'Blue Peter' became interested in the story of the search for the aircraft in 1992. John Leslie, Blue Peter presenter at the time, traced the history of a Spitfire named after the racehorse Blue Peter long before the children's programme was even thought of.

It was built at Castle Bromwich in October 1941 and test flown by Alex Henshaw who is now 79 and spoke to John Leslie fondly about flying Spitfires - "the finest low-winged monoplane I have ever flown"; "It was a pilot's aircraft".

On looking at his log book he found he had test flown Blue Peter on a normal 40 minute flights and found nothing wanting. After some research he discovered he had flown 10% of all Spitfires produced which makes the total number he test flew 3,000!

Photo_534.jpg

In April 1942 Blue Peter was allocated to 242 squadron located at Turnhouse near Edinburgh. Douglas Benham of that Squadron, who held the rank of Flight Commander, had in his log book an entry about flying R for Robert, as Blue Peter was code-named, from Turnhouse on 2nd and 3rd May 1942.