10,000 Spitfires Head for Germany
When I saw the headline “Fears for the worst as 10,000 Spitfires head for Germany” at the London Telegraph (via Memeorandum) I was rather puzzled. Was this some strange precursor to a war with Iran? Didn’t the Spitfire go out of service half a century ago? And does the RAF have 10,000 fighter planes in the fleet? Or perhaps there was just a classic car show and the headline writer was being clever? It turns out, none of the above.
The last time they flew across the Channel, they were 32 feet long, with Rolls-Royce engines and wings bristling with 20mm cannons. Now they measure all of 18 inches, have no engine and not so much as a peashooter – but their “pilots” still risk being thrown into German captivity. The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that a “big wing” of more than 10,000 inflatable Spitfires will this week cross into Germany and, when the World Cup starts on Friday, they could face the kind of frosty reception encountered by their wartime counterparts.
England football fans have been warned of arrest by the British Home Secretary, threatened with “zero tolerance” by a German police chief, and told not to mention the war by the creator of Basil Fawlty himself. Some have responded by packing inflatable Spitfires by the thousand into their camper vans to sell throughout Germany and finance their World Cup trips.
Alf Ancell, 31, who designed the Spitfires, admitted he had found plenty of fans willing to sell the planes in Germany. “I got 10,000 Spitfires in a couple of months ago and I am now down to my last 2,000 and expecting to sell the remainder. “It’s not a link to the War,” he insisted. “It’s just an English symbol of victory. They look like flags when you hold them aloft. I don’t see how that can be inflammatory.”
Planning to sell them on campsites, in beer tents, and on beaches, Fred Arnold, Andy Mitchel and Terry Dorell last week vowed never to surrender their blow-up Spitfires until the buyer paid £5. The three have packed their VW camper van with more than 1,000 Spitfires, bought for £3.75 each on a sale-or-return basis, and will this week be selling them to fellow fans all over Germany. “They’re original and brilliant,” enthused Mr Dorell about the miniature fighters decorated with St George’s Crosses and camouflage patterns. “They may not like it in Germany,” he added. “but who gives a sausage?”
Tim Worstall deems this “Absolutely marvelous.”
While it does indeed seem like harmless fun, the combination of xenophobia, alcohol, and soccer may not be a great idea. Neither, however, does sending out the Polizei to harrass soccer fans with balloons.