18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 5

" You ought," someone whose advice is worth following said

to me the other day, " to find out who was responsible for deciding to adopt the Spitfire as the approved type of fighter, because the man who did that—chose that machine rather than any other—has some claim to be called the saviour of his country." I don't know that that language is much too strong, provided the Hurricane is bracketed with the Spit- fire, and there is no doubt, I think, that the man to whom credit must be given is Lord Swinton, for he was Minister for Air when the Spitfire was adopted in 1936. (Mr. R. J. Mitchell, the designer of the machine, which is a lineal descendant of the seaplane which won the Schneider Trophy in 1927, 1929, and 1931, died in the following year.) No doubt all kinds of officials made their contribution to the discussions that resulted in the Spitfires and Hurricanes being adopted, but the Minister has the last word, and when it is the right word he ought to be given credit for it. But one com- paratively junior official, Group-Captain R. S. Sorley, did a great deal, by his persistent advocacy, to get the right decision taken. Curiously enough, by an odd irony, Lord Swinton, having made the vital decision to concentrate on Spitfires, was the cause of a grave retardation of the production of Spitfires through getting badly across Lord Nuffield. Into the rights and wrongs of that unfortunate controversy there is no need to enter now. Sir Kingsley Wood approached Lord Nuffield, with happy rekults, the moment he succeeded Lord Swinton. But speak- ing generally, Lord Swinton's work at the Air Ministry deserves more recognition than it has been given. We are reaping much of the fruit of it now.