We are releasing a small number of professionally polished original Merlin engine valves, unframed. These valves make attractive and unusual paperweights or ornaments and provide great talking points. Click more to read the fascinating true history of these genuine WWII collector items
Originally sealed in grease and crated for shipping to the Far East in 1944, these genuine Spitfire and Hurricane engine spares destined for fighters serving in Burma, got no further than India for reasons unknown. The crate which contained a variety of Merlin engine spares lay unopened in an old warehouse in a remote part of India till the 1980's when it was discovered by two American airline pilots looking for spares for their Merlin engine-powered P-51 Mustang.
The spares were acquired and the crate air-freighted to Florida via London Heathrow. During trans-shipment at Heathrow, no doubt due to the age of the crate, and perhaps some rough handling by a forklift driver, the crate split wide open and the grease-packed contents dispersed themselves across the warehouse floor. An apoplectic freight manager, unconcerned about the rarity of the "mess" in his warehouse, gave the owners - now on airline duty back in the States - 24 hours to remove the crate and its contents before the entire consignment was unceremoniously dumped with a scrap merchant!
After a series of frantic transatlantic phone calls a nearby barn was offered as temporary storage by a successful businessman and shooting friend of Spitfire ace Johnnie Johnson. The spares were moved, and the valuable consignment saved. On their next visit to UK the two American pilots sifted through the mass of spares, discarding a number of inlet and outlet engine valves which the grease had failed to maintain in the required pristine condition. Pat Barnard (founder of ArtToFly) who had organised the entire salvage exercise, was given the valves by two grateful P-51 pilots following which they resided in another warehouse for a further 20 years! But thanks to ArtToFly, these few genuine WWII Merlin engine valves will at last see the light of day as symbols of three of the greatest fighter aircraft the world has known.
The Merlin engine is perhaps the only aero engine in history to achieve legendary status. Its throaty roar was unmistakeable and even today, 70 years after it powered the little fighters that won the Battle of Britain, and the USAAF's P-51 Mustang, the distinctive note of the Merlin turns heads skywards like no other sound in aviation.
We have just a few. We wish we had more. Each genuine WWII Merlin valve has been polished, and is beautifully mounted in a box-frame with an inscription describing a brief history of the Merlin engine, the WWII aircraft it powered, and Lord Tedder's tribute to the aero engine that won the Battle of Britain.
All profits go to the Douglas Bader Disabled Children's Flying Days