'Spitfire' replica to be feature of 2015 show

'Prisoners of war' being marched away from the battle scene during last year's Listowel Military Tattoo.
'Prisoners of war' being marched away from the battle scene during last year's Listowel Military Tattoo.
World War II Club member, Con O'Sullivan from Newcastle West surveying the square during last year's Listowel Military Festival.
A Spitfire fighter plane from World War II, the likes of which will be seen again once Listowel’s modellers and carpenters get time to finish the job they have started on building a replica.

ONE of the most iconic fighter planes of the Second World War will be pride of place at next year's Military Tattoo in Listowel as a group of local enthusiasts set about realising an ambitious plan to build a replica Spitfire from scratch.

The Spitfire, which is to be made mostly of wood, will be displayed in the centre of the Square for the duration of the 2015 Listowel Military Tattoo and, even though it won't take off it is set to take the weekend to an even higher level.

Organisers are now putting the finishing touches to this year's event, which is set to bring hundreds of battle scene re-enactors and enthusiasts back to the Square for two days of pitched World War II style battles.

Listowel has fast become the prime Irish location for the military re-enactment enthusiasts who are allowed use the town square and St John's Church for the mock gunfights.

"St John's is the real attraction for them as it has the sense of a small Belgian town church about it, making it perfect for the re-enactments," Military Tattoo organiser Denis O'Carroll said.

But one of the really exciting things about the group's current plans is the construction of the replica Spitfire in time for the 2015 celebration.

"It was an idea by model-maker Pádraig Nolan to build a full-size replica Spitfire. We were originally hoping to have it ready for this year but the big storm provided the carpenters taking part with too much work!" said Denis.

The group have the blueprints and a large workshop - courtesy of Listowel Town Council - ready to go and it's now just a question of cutting out the frames for the famous plane. "It will be exactly the same as the original Spitfires, which were made of wood and covered in canvass and Irish linen. In fact some of the pilots said these were the best as the bullets just whizzed straight through the fuselage rather than sending shrapnel flying everywhere."

The Irish Air Corps is also very interested in the project and it is hoped that a Spitfire Merlin engine - a 27-litre monster - that's currently in the aviation museum in Baldonnell might be loaned for display in Listowel next to the wooden model.

Meanwhile, all are hoping for another fantastic weekend at this year's tatoo, which starts on Saturday, May 3, and runs until Monday, May 5.

"Listowel needs something like this and the interest it's attracting to town is phenomenal. Everyone gets a boost out of it and the boutiques told us it was one of their best weekends last year as the men watched the action and the women went shopping!" Denis added.

Staff from 10 embassies in Ireland will attend and all are delighted to welcome the beautiful Bombshell Belles back to town as well, a trio of singers performing the hits of the WWII era.


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