Tungum takes flight following Spitfire restoration

The Spitfire is one of the best known and loved British fighter aircraft ever made. With the help of Tungum Ltd, a Tewkesbury-based manufacturer of corrosion resistant alloy tubing, one such aircraft has been restored to its former glory.

Built in Southampton in 1942, the Mk IX Spitfire was one of the earliest military applications of Tungum alloy. Tungum’s high strength to weight ratio and fatigue resistance made it the ideal material of choice for many of the aircraft systems, including flight control, weapon and the hydraulic and breathing air services.  

The BR601 Spitfire was allotted to the 64 Squadron during the war, but in the years following its extensive RAF service, the plane was bought and sold by collectors around the world before landing in the hands of the Collings Foundation in 2009 and undergoing a full restoration.

Requirements issued by the Civil Aviation Authority stipulate that, where possible, restoration work carried out on historic and ex-military aircraft should be in line with the original specification, prompting the Foundation to turn to Tungum’s technical department for their help in sending the Spitfire back to the skies.

Sales and Marketing Director at Tungum, Sean Hammond, said: “It was a real challenge to uncover the specification as used in the 1940s, but a genuine pleasure to be involved in the restoration of such an iconic aircraft.

“Prior to the war, Tungum alloy was used for a variety of decorative items including cigarette cases, watches and jewellery. Its use on the Spitfire, as well as the Wellington Bomber, changed Tungum from a cosmetic alloy to a respected engineering material.”

Although its use in military aircraft is a thing of the past, a multitude of new uses have seen Tungum tubing deployed in industries including oil and gas, transportation, marine, defence and medical. With its ability to resist corrosion even in harsh environments and its non-sparking qualities, it is ideally suited to use in demanding installations where safety and durability are vital.