Fears for the worst as 10,000 Spitfires head for Germany

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The last time they flew across the Channel, they were 32 feet long, with Rolls-Royce engines and wings bristling with 20mm cannons.

Now they measure all of 18 inches, have no engine and not so much as a peashooter - but their "pilots" still risk being thrown into German captivity.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that a "big wing" of more than 10,000 inflatable Spitfires will this week cross into Germany and, when the World Cup starts on Friday, they could face the kind of frosty reception encountered by their wartime counterparts.

England football fans have been warned of arrest by the British Home Secretary, threatened with "zero tolerance" by a German police chief, and told not to mention the war by the creator of Basil Fawlty himself.

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