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Originally published January 7, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Page modified January 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

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Antique Spitfire plane collapses on UK runway

Airport officials say an antique Spitfire aircraft owned by engine company Rolls Royce collapsed shortly after landing at East Midlands Airport in central England.

The Associated Press

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LONDON —

Airport officials say an antique Spitfire aircraft owned by engine company Rolls Royce collapsed shortly after landing at East Midlands Airport in central England.

The airport said in a statement the World War II-era plane's undercarriage failed as it touched down Monday afternoon. The pilot was unharmed and the damaged aircraft was towed away.

The sleek-looking Spitfire played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain, when the single-seat fighter helped beat back waves of German bombers. More than 20,000 were built, although only a few dozen remain in working order today.

Rolls Royce, which built the Merlin engines used to power the fighters, says it bought this plane in 1996. It typically appears at airshows and corporate functions.

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