The Spitfire Sisters - the women who helped win the war.
**Accompanies episode 55 of Ladies Who London Podcast
When you think about Spitfires, you think of moustachioed men in flying suits, racing out across an airfield to scramble and head into the skies above Britain to fend off the Nazi advance. However, there are several women who were instrumental in the success of the iconic Spitfire plane, and we are taking a look at their stories here.
Lady Lucy Houston
This eccentric, vivacious woman was one of the main reasons behind the development of the Spitfire plane.
From her third husband's will, she was able to use her fortune to fund an air race, the Schneider trophy, which ended up being the thing which kickstarted the development of the Spitfire. In addition, she also funded the first flight over Mount Everest, which was documented by a second aircraft flying behind. See all the photos by clicking here.
Amazingly, the second woman to be instrumental in the success of the Spitfire was barely a teenager. Hazel Hill, seen here with her father, Fred, helped him figure out the complex mathematics that the planes needed to be a success in the war.
Recently, her granddaughter looked into her story in greater depth, and here is a BBC article about what she found.
Why did her father ask her to help him with his work for the Air Ministry? Find out more on episode 55 of the Ladies Who London podcast
The last woman on our list lived to the grand old age of 101, only dying in 2018. Mary was one of a group called the ATAs - Air Transport Auxiliary - which was predominantly staffed by women, and was for the delivery of planes from factories across the UK to the airfields they were needed at. Mary Ellis was one of those women who stepped up for this dangerous but exciting role. The women never knew what aircraft they were going to be asked to fly on any given day - crucially without any training or backup - and her dream was to fly a Spitfire. Did that dream come true? Listen to the podcast and find out more!