Apr 1

Royal Air Force

Red Lichtie Spitfire
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Supermarine Spitfire MK Vc (G-IBSY)
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"Per ardua ad astra" (through adversity to the stars)

The Red Lichte Spitfire “Red Lichtie”, was named after the people of Arbroath who raised the money for it to be built in 1942 as part of the war effort. It joined the City of Glasgow 602 Squadron in 1943 but was damaged beyond repair in June of that year. The “Red Lichtie” name appears to have originated from a light used to guide the fishermen to harbour. Whether this was a beacon lit by the monks of Arbroath Abbey in the distinctive round window high on the south transept of the abbey or a light erected by harbour authorities in later years is a matter of conjecture. The tartan commemorates the 100th anniversary year of the RAF, founded April 1, 1918, as well as recognising the iconic fighter plane and its key role in winning the Battle of Britain.

The distinctive round window high in the ruins of the south transept of Arbroath Abbey was originally lit up at night as a beacon to guide the fishermen in to harbour. It is known locally as the ‘Round O’, and from this tradition, inhabitants of Arbroath are colloquially known as ‘Reid Lichties.'

During WWII The people of Arbroath started a ‘Spitfire Fund’ to raise £5,000 and purchase a Spitfire to help with the war effort.

They succeededand a MkVb Spitfire EP121 was built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory and delivered on the 24th May 1942, to the RAF at Burtonwood and named the ‘Red Lichtie’ after the people of Arbroath who purchased it.


This tartan by Stephen Patrick Sim embeds the tartan’s creation date and registration date to commemorate the 100th anniversary year of the RAF, 1st April 2018 to 1st April 2019, and in so doing also recognises the iconic fighter plane and its key role in winning the Battle of Britain.


Colours and geometry: the tartan’s asymmetric design of green and grey represents the spitfire’s camouflage; the red, white, blue and yellow stripes form a representation of the historic RAF roundel and the tail liveries on the aircraft. The single red stripe in the tartan becomes a mark of respect for the ‘Red Lichtie’, which ended its service on the 26th June 1943 suffering from an engine cut on approach causing it to stall and crash. The pilot survived.

For more about the Red Lichtie, click the the plane!

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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