A Supermarine Spitfire Vc 'Tropical' JK707 MX-P serving with 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group operated by 12th USAAF. The regular pilot was 1st.Lt. Carroll A. Prybylo, but when lost it was flown by Capt. Virgil Cephus Fields, Jr. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

By Mark McConville

STRIKING images of the Supermarine Spitfires that helped Britain win World War Two have been brought into the twenty-first century after being expertly colourised.

Italy, The Balkans And South-east Europe, 1942-1945, Supermarine Spitfire Mark VCs of No. 2 Squadron SAAF based at Palata, Italy, flying in loose line astern formation over the Adriatic Sea while on a bombing mission to the Sangro River battlefront, 30 November 1943. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

The stunning shots show a Merlin engine being fitted into a Spitfire at CBAF Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, Spitfires taking off from an air field and Spitfires in flight formation while on a bombing mission.

Other incredible pictures show a downed US Spitfire that had crash landed, German soldiers sitting on a downed plane on Calais beach and pilots admiring the nose art on one of the fighter jets.

German soldiers sit on P9374 on Calais beach in 1940. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

The vivid photographs were painstakingly colourised by design engineers Paul Reynolds (48) from Birmingham, UK.

“Having grown up a couple of miles from CBAF I’ve always had an affinity for the Spitfire also the aircraft is a legend which respected throughout the world,” he said.

“I chose this set of photos because it shows Spitfires from various air forces (RAF, USAF, SAAF), showing what a multinational fighter it was.

“I hope my set represents the life of the Spitfire from being built, into flight to being shot down.”

Fitting the beautiful Merlin engine into a Spitfire at CBAF Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries before, during and after World War II.

During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the main RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against Nazi Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe.

Spitfire units, however, had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of its higher performance.

German soldiers sit on P9374 on Calais beach in 1940. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific, and South-East Asian theatres.

Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s.

The British Army In The Normandy Campaign 1944, Sherman tanks move up past a crash-landed Spitfire, for an attack on Tilly-sur-Seulles. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com

Mr Reynolds hopes his colourised photos can help teach the younger generation about the history of this country.

“I colourise these photos to bring our past to a new generation of people,” he explained.

“Many of my colourisations on my Facebook page get viewed by tens of thousands of people – many from the 16 to 24 age group.”

Flying Officer Leonard ‘Ace’ Haines of No. 19 Squadron on his Supermarine Spitfire Mk I at Fowlmere near Duxford, September 1940. Paul Reynolds / mediadrumworld.com