Top picks of the week: Spitfire, a submarine and Stonehenge

A WWII fighter plane is restored, an American Civil War sub turns 150 and research unlocks more of the history of Britain’s most famous ancient stone circle


We were fascinated to catch up on the Shuttleworth Collection’s restoration project on a World War II Spitfire. Work on the plane has been going since 2007 but the end is now in sight as the £300,000 project – involving over 20,000 hours of labour to date – should be completed by 2015.


The AR501 Spitfire was flown during WWII by Squadron Leader Frantisek Dolezal, a Czechoslovakian who escaped his homeland, occupied by the Nazis, in 1938. He commanded the 310 Squadron and shot down 10 confirmed enemy aircraft. 

We can’t wait to see the AR501 take to the skies again but until then, visitors to the Shuttleworth Collection are being given the opportunity to view the progress of the restoration. The project is at Hangar 1 of the Old Warden Aerodrome, near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire.

Also this week

Built during the American Civil War, the HL Hunley marks 150 years since it became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. Even though the Hunley succeeded in sinking the USS Housatonic, it also sank and no one knows why. 

Brought to the surface in August 2000, research has been carried out in the laboratory in North Charleston, South Carolina, starting with the discovery of the remains of the eight members of the crew inside. As the sub was sealed, they were preserved in excellent condition. Now the scientists intend to remove all the sediment covering the sub to explore exactly what happened to it.

Archaeological research has pinpointed the location of many of the rocks that make up Stonehenge. Over half of the monument’s smaller bluestones have been traced to a specific outcrop of the Preseli Hills in Wales called Carn Goedog. If this find is accurate, it may rule out one of the theories of how the stones were transported from Wales to Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire – 150 miles away.

See our 5 facts about Stonehenge to find out more about the ancient stone circle and this new research.

This coming week

On Monday 24 February, the BBC is launching the latest stage in its World War I at Home project.

Compiled by the BBC and the Imperial War Museum, over 1,400 accounts of what neighbourhoods across the country were like during WWI will be broadcast.


To browse the stories, starting Monday, visit