Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn

The Great Escape. Photo taken by ‘WARTOG


At Zero West Watches, we have always actively pursued and researched stories of incredible bravery, selfless sacrifice, and British engineering, so we are very proud to announce we have become an official restoration partner for Spitfire AA810, one of the most important Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires of WW2.

The AA810 restoration project dedicated to the memory of all the men of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit who risked, and gave, their lives during the Second World War.

Arial photo of the Tirpitz

Loading a reconnaissance cameras at RAF Benson

AA810 project leader Tony Hoskins

The restoration of this amazing piece of history, a Mk I Supermarine Spitfire flown by Flight Lieutenant ‘Sandy’ Gunn for the Photo Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), is being led by aeronautical engineer, Tony Hoskins. The AA810 project is far greater than bringing this iconic plane back to flying condition, it also campaigns for memorials for these brave PRU pilots from different countries and backgrounds who flew deep into enemy territory to photograph and gather intelligence.

AA810 fuselage jig at Airframe Assemblies

An entirely new tail section had to be built from scratch

Frame 8 which sits below the instrument panel in the cockpit

“Sandy” Gunn’s last flight in this unarmed Spitfire was on the 5th March 1942 when he was one of six pilots sent to locate the German battleship Tirpitz, thought to be in Trondheim, Norway. On this mission, he was shot down by two Messerschmitt 109s. Bailing out, he was then captured and sent to the infamous Stalag Luft III prison, where he earned himself a slot in the tunnel he helped dig. Sandy took part in what is now immortalised as “The Great Escape,” which took place 80 years ago on March 25th, 1944. He was on the run for 2 days.

Spitfire AA810 taxies at RAF Wick

Alastair leaning on the tail of a Spitfire at RAF Benson

Stalag Luft III – prisoner-of-war (POW) camp

Zero West are excited to be part of this important historical project and sponsor the restoration of the cockpit instrumentation, helping to tell this courageous story of man and machine. Since the discovery of this PRU Spitfire in the peat bogs of Norway’s Surnadal hills, all involved in the project have been waiting for the day when it will once again be painted in the colours of RAF ‘Air Superiority Blue’ and take to the skies.

We will be posting the restoration progress on our social media channels and blog over the next year.

You can also read up on the full back story at the official AA810 website.

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