Photos: Company builds replica of iconic Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire HF VII

Credit: NASA Langley Research Center

This Supermarine Spitfire HF VII was one of the high-altitude versions of the famous fighter, its normal elliptical wingtips replaced by extended "pointed" tips for its high-altitude role. This photo, taken on September 7, 1944, is one of the Langley aircraft that has survived. It is in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum's collection.

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by JOSH STEPHEN / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Updated Saturday, Aug 3 at 4:52 PM

CISCO, Texas — One of the most iconic and deadly fighter planes of World World II has come back to life in rural Texas.

First built in the late 1930s by the British, the Spitfire played a pivotal role in turning back the Germans in the Battle of Britain.

Now — in 2013 — there’s a Spitfire replica rolling out of a small factory in Cisco, Texas.

Click here for the photo slideshow.

This is an aircraft that's fast, nimble and easy to fly.

It's like a Porsche in the sky, said Mike O'Sullivan, whose company, Supermarine Aircraft, makes the planes in this tiny town.

"When you're in a Spitfire, you think the direction you want to go and it will go that way," he said.

From a young age, O'Sullivan, an Australian, listened to stories about the legend of the Spitfires told by the men in his home town.

"I grew up in the Outback, where nearly everyone went to war,” he said.

Eventually, the magic of Spitfire compelled him to spend $8 million and seven years designing a replica. He moved his business to Texas in 2008.

"I'm not trying to brag, but I do seem to have the magic ability to just put it together,” O’Sullivan said.

In terms of vintage Spitfires, O'Sullivan said there are still about 40 airworthy planes out there, and that one recently sold for $4.5 million.

His new Spitfires are all crafted by hand. He sells them boxed up, as a kit, for $175,000. Buyers around the world assemble them on their own, and they often draw a crowd wherever they fly.

"I've had people take their own plane out of a hangar to put the Spitfire in to say they had a Spitfire in there overnight, and you've got to come over and stay with me," O'Sullivan said. "I mean, how good is that?"

That's what you get for lovingly and carefully reviving a legend of the sky.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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