Mitchell's Masterpieces !!!


 (Story from the DailyMail Australian Edition)

 Photographer John Dibbs captured these remarkable images for his new book in an aircraft flown within 15 ft of the Spitfires by former RAF pilot Tim Ellison.

 Reaching heights of up to 9,000 ft and speeds of 250 mph, Dibbs had to contend with extreme wind and noise to shoot through an open canopy with a handheld camera. His glorious photographs grace the pages of a book marking the 80th anniversary of the Spitfire’s maiden flight.

 The aircraft he photographed include a Mk I Spitfire N3200 that was shot down over the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940, and lay buried for more than 40 years until it was revealed by a huge storm. Incredibly, it was recovered and restored to airworthy condition.

 Dibbs, 50, has gone on more than 1,100 photographic sorties over the past 20 years. But most of the incredibly detailed snaps of the last Spitfires were shot in the last seven years over southern England.

 Mr Dibbs, originally from north London but now lives in Seattle, USA, said his aim was to capture Spitfires that have a combat history. 

 While the majority fought the Luftwaffe in World War Two one of them is the last to 'fire its guns in anger on King's business' in the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s.

 Mr Dibbs, who has snapped Concorde, the Red Arrows and F16 planes before, also praised the skill of the Spitfire pilots to fly in formation with Mr Ellison's camera aircraft.

 He added: 'The Spitfire is probably the most famous and beautiful World War II aircraft in the world.  

 One of the most exhilarating things is about how close you get,’ he says. 

'Sat atop the English countryside with a Mk I or Mk V off your wing is not something you just witness, you feel it. 

 ‘It is an extreme working environment. I always shoot Spitfires through clean air and when the canopy is open it gets a bit chilly up there’.

 'I have to overcome the wind and slipstream, which are incredibly strong, as well as the noise and speed. But I’ve been doing it long enough not to get freaked out or airsick.’  

 He added: 'I am thrilled with the book. I am an air to air photographer so I fly in one like-for-like plane to shoot another.

 'A lot of people think the pictures are fake because they are so close up but it is due to Tim's skill as a pilot to get the plane exactly where I want it to be that enables me to get these pictures.

 'This book is to honour the veterans who flew them and there is no finer compliment than to have one tell me I have captured the spirit of the Spitfire in my photographs.'