Our spitfire

Our spitfire

Spitfire Josephine

In this ground-breaking documentary series, Project Josephine will tell, for the first time, the incredible and true story of the little known but vital ‘Takoradi Run’ - a secret mission that tested pilots and planes to breaking point. The implications of this daring operation cannot be understated; the success of this incredible aviation achievement not only saved the allies in North Africa - it also turned the tide of the Second World War.

Combining aircraft, archaeology and the spirit of adventure; this ambitious social history project traces the story of just one of the many aircraft involved. It’s an incredible tale – secret desert operations, a missing Blenheim bomber, the unknown fate of its three-man crew and a story of survival against all the odds.

But this single ill-fated mission illuminates and illustrates a much bigger story. One of people, planes, places and planning; giving us an insight into the courage and conviction that led to the success of one of the most remarkable and daring flying operations ever embarked upon. Over 80 years later, this story remains largely unknown.

The route, which became known as the ‘Takoradi Run’, was a challenging seven day 3600-mile flight across Africa from Ghana to Egypt, undertaken by pilots and aircrew from all countries making up the Allied Air Force.

The flight was demanding and brutal; crews set out from Takoradi with minimal navigational aids. It was not uncommon for pilots to lose their bearings; flying above endless miles of tropical and desert landscape. Sandstorms were a constant weather hazard, causing engines to fail. Aircraft frequently limped into Cairo requiring acute attention from ground crew before they were fit for battle. But they were the lucky ones...

It was impossible to assist aircrew in an ailing aircraft. Out of necessity the convoy rule was "fly on." At best, lost aircraft were reported at the next designated stopping point and, if possible, a search party sent out to look for the missing plane and crew.

Despite these odds... incredibly, by October 1943 over 5000 aircraft had been successfully delivered; bringing much needed air assets and assistance to ground troops fighting in the Western Desert.