Ancestral home to Supermarine, Southampton is a lovely modern city with broad pedestrian sidewalks and buzzing with bistros, cafes and shopping centers. Weaved in amongst modern tasteful apartment buildings the old city walls stand solid in defiance to many wars past. The Solent forms a massive port with huge freighters plying it’s straits. This abundance of water formed the base and inspiration for some of the most beautiful flying boats ever designed.
The Solent Sky museum is the place to visit if you are even remotely interested in viewing one of the fastest, piston engined floatplanes ever devised. The Supermarine S6B is simply a gorgeous machine. The ancestry to the Spitfire is clear. It is the engineering that went into it though that is amazing. The wings have a double layer and engine cooling is achieved by pumping the cooling water through this. The wings are also ventilated internally, having small air intakes in the leading edge. The cockpit is tiny.
How anyone could fit in it is incredible, but then these things were built for speed, not comfort!
I spent a good deal of time with the folk there giving a VR demo and having a chat about the sim. It really is a wonderful museum.
Next I headed off to Castle Bromwich. Near what used to be the shadow factory for building the Spitfire and made famous by Alex Henshaw in his wonderful book “Sigh for a Merlin”, I met Mark. He is a lecturer at a local College which is very close to the original works. Mark had noted that there was very little recognition of the importance of the area which has since disappeared and is now part of the Jaguar-Landrover works. He has therefore been doing some great work with his students in keeping the history of the Spitfire alive. We have corresponded over a long time due to his interest in the HFS simulator, so it was great to finally meet him!