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Yesterday Channel documentary featuring Medway Aircraft Preservation Society's Spitfire restoration

Volunteers who have restored an historic Spitfire are to feature in a TV documentary.

Members of the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (Maps) have been working on bringing the aircraft back to life at their Rochester Airport base for the last 18 months.

Maps' managing director Philip Cole shows a cameraman their work
Maps' managing director Philip Cole shows a cameraman their work

Filming took place over two days and featured the crucial moment of fitting the tailplane to the craft after the main fuselage and cockpit instruments and controls had been completed.

The next major challenge will be fitting the wings and replacing the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, after which the Spitfire 16 RW 388 will be returned to Stoke-on-Trent where it will be put on show.

The Mark 16 Spitfire, known as The Stoke Spitfire, is a tribute to its designer, Reginald Mitchell.

Because of its size, the plane is due to go back to the Midlands in sections at the end of this month.

Maps' spokesman Robin Brooks said: "When it got to us it was in a pretty bad state having undergone three restorations which weren't

particularly good. She's quite old, built in 1942 and was a gate guardian at RAF Hornchurch in Essex exposed to the elements all ear round.

Inside the cockpit of the restored Spitfire
Inside the cockpit of the restored Spitfire

"I think it's a tribute to the guys of what they have achieved in not good conditions."

The volunteers are currently working from an old RAF building, which according to Mr Brooks, is "falling apart".

They are looking forward to moving to a purpose-built premises on the Maidstone Road site, which forms part of the renovation of Rochester Airport.

Mr Brooks said: "We can't wait to have more space so that we can take on bigger jobs."

There about 24 volunteers, most of whom come from an engineering or car mechanic background.

Maps' volunteers working on the Spitfire at their Rochester Airport base
Maps' volunteers working on the Spitfire at their Rochester Airport base

Over the years they have built up a strong reputation for restoring old wartime aircraft back to their former glory.

The airfield revamp includes a new control tower, hub buildings and upgrading of the existing Innovation Park.

The programme, which is due to be screened later this year on the Yesterday Channel, was made by Rare TV specialises in shows on boats, trains and aeroplanes.

The Duchess of Cornwall is the group's patron and has paid a visit to their workshop.

The Medway branch was formed in 1977 and much of its work has been to restore gate guardian planes from RAF bases across the country under the approval of the Ministry of Defence.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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