Samurai Sportswear is marking the 80th anniversary of the first flight of the iconic Spitfire with the launch of a commemorative special edition rugby shirt in partnership with the Spitfire Heritage Trust.
The prototype of the single-seater fighter aeroplane, designed by RJ Mitchell, was first flown from Eastleigh Aerodrome on 6th March 1936 on an eight minute test flight before going into mass production and playing a hugely significant part in World War II.
Designed as a short range interceptor the Spitfire saw action in Western Europe, Mediterranean, Pacific and South East Asian theatres and played a significant part in turning the tide of the early part of the war. More than twenty thousand Spitfires were manufactured before the legendary plane flew its final RAF operational sortie in Singapore in 1954.
The commemorative shirt design includes an image of a flight of Spitfire’s in formation alongside the blueprint designs of the plane itself and RJ Mitchell’s signature, aiming to tell the story of the aircraft and the important role it played in wartime history.
Speaking of the shirt launch, Samurai Retail Operations Manager Nick Smith said “We are honoured to be working with the Spitfire Heritage Trust to mark this anniversary. A proportion of the profits from this shirt will be donated to the Trust to support their work in keeping the legacy of the Spitfire alive.
“The Spitfire is held in such high regard by the British public and even to this day still draws crowds as part of memorial flypasts. It isn’t just part of aviation history, it is part of the fabric of British history and is an instantly recognisable icon.”
David Spencer Evans, Chairman of the Spitfire Heritage Trust, is delighted to be working with Samurai, saying “We are thrilled with the rugby shirt. Samurai have created something really special to mark the eightieth anniversary of the first flight.
“The Spitfire is more than a vintage aircraft, it symbolises the coming together of the nations of the Commonwealth, as we stood in defence of our values and freedoms. Eighty years on it is difficult for younger generations to appreciate the enormity and lasting effects of the events of the 1930s and 40s but we are proud that the Spitfire’s spirit lives on.”
The shirts will be available from Rugby Plus, Whirlwind Sports, Rugby Store, RFU, Sporting Gifts and Lovell Rugby.