A Midland invention that cleared the skies of the Nazi hordes has been chosen as one of the icons that best represent Britain.
The Spitfire, designed by Reginald Mitchell and produced in thousands at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham, was named in the first dozen in a project aiming to help celebrate the country's cultural treasures.
People can nominate more to build up a list of hundreds, creating a portrait of the nation.
The initiative is being officially launched today, funded by Culture Online, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The other 11 icons are Stonehenge, Punch and Judy, the SS Empire Windrush, Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII, a cup of tea, the FA Cup, Alice in Wonderland, the Routemaster double decker bus, the King James Bible, the Angel of the North and Jerusalem.
The collection will be assembled jigsaw-fashion in an online collection at www.ICONS.org.uk
Each quarter more will be announced, after the public has had its say.
Culture Minister David Lammy, who will attend the launch, said: "Who hasn't ached for a proper cup of tea
when they've been on an overseas holiday or yearned for their team to pick up the FA Cup at the end of the season?
"The website helps us to explore how our response to icons has shaped our under-standing of personal and national identity."
Jerry Doyle, managing director of ICONS, the notfor-profit company set up to administer the project, said: "Ultimately, the hope is that more of us will pass through the doors of the nation's museums and galleries as we grow in awareness about the fascinating things housed in them."
It is planned to extend the project in future to Wales, Scotland and possibly Ireland, if funding becomes available.
Among those backing the project are the Science Museum, National Trust, English Heritage, the Football Association (FA), the Black Cultural Archives Museum, the Museum of Rugby, Age Concern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Jewish Museum, Mencap, Disabled Living Foundation, the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, the Muslim Council for Great Britain, as well as museums and library networks in towns and cities such as London, Brighton, Birmingham, Gateshead, Manchester and Bristol.
Sarah Staniforth, the National Trust's director of historic properties, said: "From Stonehenge to the White Cliffs of Dover, the world-famous gardens at Sissinghurst to the national lawnmower collection, the National Trust cares for many of the country's most cherished icons. I'm delighted, therefore, that we are contributing to the project."
FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, said: "The nomination is a great tribute to what is undoubtedly the world's greatest club cup competition.
"And it couldn't have come at a more appropriate moment, given that this season the FA Cup is being played for the 125th time. The FA Cup has a unique place in English sporting culture and a magic all of its own. It has consistently generated some of the great moments in sport." ..SUPL: