THE final design for Southampton’s proposed tribute to the Spitfire can today be unveiled by the Daily Echo.
Soaring 160ft into the city skyline and with a wingspan of 110ft – three times the size of the legendary fighter plane – the memorial is set to become an internationally recognised landmark.
A location for the towering monument remains a secret, however negotiations with a landowner are at an advanced stage.
It is the latest boost to the Echo’s campaign for a tribute to the Spitfire, and the men and women who built and flew it, after Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave his public backing in the summer.
Designed by renowned British sculptor Kenneth Potts, the wire-mesh styled Spitfire will be held aloft by three enormous pylons.
Swooping in the sky, the distinctive shape that made the Second World War aircraft instantly recognisable will be visible from vantage points across the city.
At night, lights projected onto the stainless steel sculpture will illuminate it in its numerous battle camouflages.
Colours would include the brown and green used during the Battle of Britain in 1941, the green and grey used in conflicts over Europe and the black and white invasion stripes of D-Day.
The city council commissioned three artists to submit proposals and the winning design was chosen by the Spitfire Tribute Foundation, a group of council, business, media and aviation leaders.
Councillor John Hannides, the foundation chairman, said the sculpture was true to RJ Mitchell’s original design and would be the icon that defines Southampton.
“Now that we have an agreed design I hope it will capture the imagination of the people of Southampton who will help us make it a reality,”
said the Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage.
Artist Potts – who created a number of military memorials – said the Spitfire was the most ambitious of his career.
“There are not many pieces of sculpture anywhere that are of this scale. It’s not only a landmark for Southampton, but a landmark for Britain – it is a piece that could rival America’s Statue of Liberty,” he said.
Mr Potts said the stainless steel mesh and colourful lighting of the Spitfire was an important feature of his proposal.
The original Angel of the North-inspired concept to stand the Spitfire on its tail, which received a mixed reaction since being revealed late last year, has been abandoned.
A full feasibility will now be carried out, including the testing of a scale model in a wind tunnel and detailed research into the construction.
The foundation has so far raised £30,000 from sponsors and the city council has committed £70,000.