The Castle Bromwich Spitfire factory closed at the end of WW2 after having made most of the Spitfires, and was converted into a factory making bodies for cars, including Minis; from 1977 it became the home of Jaguar cars.
The award-winning art project began in 1997 as part of the regeneration of Castle Vale estate. Using National Lottery funding, Tolkien was appointed as artist in residence. He consulted with Castle Vale residents about an art feature and found that they were inspired above all else by the area's air history, during World War II, and favoured a sculpture featuring Spitfires. The sculpture was opened on 14 November 2000. The sculptor is the great-nephew of J. R. R. Tolkien