I realised at once that we should have to correct its directional characteristics and probably its longitudinal stability also, both of which in due time we achieved. For example, the Spitfire became the first high-speed photo-reconnaissance aircraft to be operated by the RAF. The mark numbers XV and XVII (15 and 17) were reserved for the naval version, the Seafire, in an effort to reconcile the Spitfire numbering scheme with that of the Seafire.  At that meeting, scientific officer Captain F. W. "Gunner" Hill presented charts based on his calculations showing that future fighters must carry no less than eight machine-guns, each of which must be capable of firing 1,000 shots a minute. However pilots found it difficult to exploit this advantage in combat as German pilots were reluctant to be drawn into dogfights with Spitfires of any type below 20,000 feet (6,100 m). Design of the Spitfire began in 1934, with the first prototype flying the following year. They were extended by eight inches, meaning that with a straighter trailing edge, the wings were not the same elliptical shape as previous Spitfires. The essence of aircraft design is compromise, and an improvement at one end of the performance envelope is rarely achieved without a deterioration somewhere else. Fortunately for the future of the Spitfire, many of the production jigs and machine tools had already been relocated by 20 September, and steps were being taken to disperse production to small facilities throughout the Southampton area. Stuka dive bomber. The production Spitfire VI also had an increase in wing area to improve controllability at high altitudes the … , The Seafire II was able to outperform the A6M5 Zero at low altitudes when the two types were tested against each other during wartime mock combat exercises. , F Mk XIVs had a total of 109.5 gal of fuel consisting of 84 gal in two main tanks and a 12.5 imp gal fuel tank in each leading edge wing tank; other 30, 45, 50 or 90 gal drop tanks could be carried. To help balance the new engine, the radio equipment was moved further back in the rear fuselage and the access hatch was moved from the left fuselage side to the right. Keith held various appointments with the RAF dealing with designing, development and technical policy of armament equipment. In operational service many pilots initially found that the new fighter could be difficult to handle, particularly if they were used to earlier Spitfire marks. Between 1940 and 1946, Henshaw flew a total of 2,360 Spitfires and Seafires, more than 10% of total production.. The fairings over the Hispano barrels were shorter and there was usually a short rubber stub covering the outer cannon port. I found that it had a spectacular performance doing 445 mph at 25,000 ft, with a sea-level rate of climb of over 5,000 ft per minute. The larger diameter four-spoke main wheels were strengthened to cope with the greater weights; post-war these were replaced by wider, reinforced three spoke wheels to allow Spitfires to operate from hard concrete or asphalt runways.  The only unofficial two-seat conversions that were fitted with dual-controls were a few Russian lend/lease Mk IX aircraft. A fibreglass replica in the colours of a Polish squadron leader based at the station during the Second World War is on display at, A replica Spitfire is on display on the Thornaby Road roundabout near the school named after Sir Douglas Bader who flew a Spitfire in the Second World War. While it did not cure the problem of the initial fuel starvation in a dive, it did reduce the more serious problem of the carburettor being flooded with fuel by the fuel pumps under negative "g". I was also easily leaving the Typhoon behind and the eventual finishing order was, first the Spitfire, second the Typhoon, third the Fw 190. Although resolving the problems took time, in June 1940, 10 Mk IIs were built; 23 rolled out in July, 37 in August, and 56 in September. These were used on modified undercarriage legs which had reduced "toe-in” for the axles, which reduced tyre scrub. Unit cost for airframe complete with engine, armament and equipment. Its handling qualities have benefitted (sic) to a corresponding extent and it is now considered suitable both for instrument flying and low flying. Jeffrey Quill, the former Supermarine test pilot, initiated a project to build an exact replica of K5054, the prototype Spitfire to be put on permanent public display as a memorial to R.J. Mitchell. Douglas Bader (20 e/a) and "Bob" Tuck (27 e/a) flew Spitfires and Hurricanes during the major air battles of 1940. The Mk 18 was a refinement of the Mk XIV. The majority of Spitfires, from the Mk VIII on, used three basic wing types — the C through to the E types. The Royal Indian Air Force purchased 20 ex-RAF Mk 18s in 1947. The Mk XII's speed advantage at lower altitudes again became useful near the end of its front line service in summer 1944, in which it shot down a respectable number of V-1 Flying Bombs, 82.5 The Mk XII variant was retired in September 1944. Spitfire IX (RR Merlin 61, 63, 66, 70) - F, HF, LF versions, Spitfire V airframe with a RR Merlin 60 series engine, entered service in June 1942. To carry out the mission of home defence, the design was intended to allow the Spitfire to climb quickly to intercept enemy bombers. The replica was apparently used as a static display in, A fibreglass replica in the colours of 603 (City of.  To counter the Zero, Spitfire pilots had to adopt a "slash and run" policy and use their faster speed and diving superiority to fight, while avoiding classic dogfights. Structurally unchanged from the C wing, the outer machine gun ports were eliminated, although the outer machine gun bays were retained and their access doors were devoid of empty cartridge case ports and cartridge case deflectors. The Spitfire was to be a sort of datum pacemaker – 'Mr Average Contemporary Fighter' – and its job would be to come in last, the real excitement of the proceedings being by how much it would be beaten by the Fw 190 and the Typhoon, and which of these two bright stars would beat the other and by how much. It was built up until early 1946 but it was not until January 1947, that an RAF squadron, 60 Squadron which operated from RAF Seletar, Singapore, was re-equipped with the variant. This was precisely the opposite result to that expected, or indeed intended. The first pilot to fly. All had the larger "Spiteful" tail units; modifications were also made to the trim tab gearings to perfect the F Mk 24's handling. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s. The Spitfire represents the pinnacle of inline-piston engined interceptor design, and has become a timeless classic that other aircraft are compared to. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world. The Spitfire also served on the Eastern Front with the Soviet Air Force (VVS).  By the time production ended at Castle Bromwich in June 1945, a total of 12,129 Spitfires (921 Mk IIs, 4,489 Mk Vs, 5,665 Mk IXs, and 1,054 Mk XVIs) had been built, at a maximum rate of 320 per month, making CBAF the largest Spitfire factory in the UK and the largest and most successful plant of its type during the 1939–45 conflict. In January 1940, P/O George Proudman flew this prototype in combat, but the starboard gun stopped after firing a single round, while the port gun fired 30 rounds before seizing. Beginning in late 1943, high-speed diving trials were undertaken at Farnborough to investigate the handling characteristics of aircraft travelling at speeds near the sound barrier (i.e., the onset of compressibility effects). , During the Second World War, Spitfires were used by the United States Army Air Forces in the 4th Fighter Group until they were replaced by Republic P-47 Thunderbolts in March 1943. The original aircraft was purchased by the people of the Lytham St Annes in 1940. , There are 54 Spitfires and a few Seafires in airworthy condition worldwide, although many air museums have examples on static display, for example, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has paired a static Spitfire with a static Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Most of the casualties were experienced aircraft production workers.. However, constant problems with the development of the Griffon meant that the decision to proceed with building a Spitfire with this engine didn't come to fruition until 1942, with the successful flight trials of the Mk IV.. After the destruction of the main Itchen and Woolston works by the Luftwaffe in September 1940, all Supermarine manufactured Spitfires were built in a number of "Shadow Factories"; by the end of the war there were ten main factories and several smaller workshops which built many of the components. Numerous films and documentaries featuring the Spitfire are still being produced, some of which are listed in this section. Strap on a Spitfire! An elliptical planform is the most efficient aerodynamic shape for an untwisted wing, leading to the lowest amount of induced drag. A later model IFF was fitted, replacing the aerials from the tailplane tip to fuselage with a rod aerial under the starboard wing. and Ernest Hives of Rolls-Royce thought that the Griffon would be "a second power string for the Spitfire". All went according to plan until, when we were about halfway between Odiham and Farnborough and going flat out, I was beginning to overhaul the Fw 190 and the Typhoon. The F Mk 24 achieved a maximum speed of 454 mph (731 km/h) and could reach an altitude of 30,000 ft (9,100 m) in eight minutes, putting it on a par with the most advanced piston-engined fighters of the era.  A variant on the Spitfire design with four 20 mm Oerlikon cannon had been tendered to specification F37/35, but the order for prototypes had gone to the Westland Whirlwind in January 1939.. The breakdown of production figures is taken from Air International 1985, p. 187. , The final version of the Spitfire, the Mk 24, first flew at South Marston on 13 April 1946.  A new and better-shaped wooden propeller allowed the Spitfire to reach 348 mph (557 km/h) in level flight in mid-May, when Summers flew K5054 to RAF Martlesham Heath and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE). This page was last edited on 28 December 2020, at 12:57. The fighter's maximum range was just a little over 460 miles (740 km) on internal fuel, since the new Griffon engine consumed much more fuel per hour than the original Merlin engine of earlier variants.  In some areas, such as at the rear of the wing and the lower tailplane skins, the top was riveted and the bottom fixed by brass screws which tapped into strips of spruce bolted to the lower ribs. He eventually regained control somewhere below 3,000 ft (910 m) and landed safely with no discernible damage to his aircraft. What he meant was that he wanted nothing touched, especially the control settings, until he had consulted with Mitchell and the design team and suggested some improvements. And it looked nice. Concepts for adapting the Spitfire to take the new engine had begun as far back as October 1939; Joseph Smith felt that "The good big 'un will eventually beat the good little 'un." The first deliveries of the Spitfire Mk VB variant took place at the start of 1943, with the first batch of 35 aircraft delivered via sea to the city of Basra, Iraq. When retracted the wheels were fully enclosed by triangular doors which were hinged to the outer edge of the wheel wells. , K5054 was fitted with a new propeller, and Summers flew the aircraft on 10 March 1936; during this flight, the undercarriage was retracted for the first time. During the Second World War, Jeffrey Quill was Vickers Supermarine's chief test pilot, in charge of flight testing all aircraft types built by Vickers Supermarine. is listed. Please, click subscribe, like, leave a comment and SHARE!  This led to the Type 300, with retractable undercarriage and a wingspan reduced by 6 ft (1.8 m). Wing Commander Peter Brothers, O/C Culmhead Wing in 1944–1945 and a Battle of Britain veteran; It was truly an impressive machine, being able to climb almost vertically – it gave many Luftwaffe pilots the shock of their lives when, having thought they had bounced you from a superior height, they were astonished to find the Mk XIV climbing up to tackle them head-on, throttle wide open! They were quite unqualified to make such a judgement and later events would prove them totally wrong.. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Edward "Ted" Powles, was on a routine flight to survey outside air temperature and report on other meteorological conditions at various altitudes in preparation for a proposed new air service through the area. Concepts for adapting the Spitfire to take the new engine had begun as far back as October 1939; Joseph Smith felt that "The good big 'un will eventually beat the good little 'un." Jeffrey Quill flew the first production aircraft, RB140 in October 1943: So the Mk XIV was in business, and a very fine fighter it was. Redesigned upper wing gun bay doors incorporated "teardrop" shaped blisters to clear the cannon feed motors and the lower wings no longer had the gun bay heating vents outboard of the gunbays. Although designed as a fighter-interceptor aircraft, the Spitfire proved its versatility in other roles. At the time, British Commonwealth forces were involved in possible action against Indonesia over Malaya and Nicholls decided to develop tactics to fight the Indonesian Air Force P-51 Mustang, a fighter that had a similar performance to the PR Mk 19. As the wing thinned out along its span, the tubes were progressively cut away in a similar fashion to a leaf spring; two of these booms were linked together by an alloy web, creating a lightweight and very strong main spar.  Supermarine Aircraft – originally from Brisbane, Australia, and now based in Cisco, Texas – manufacture the 80% scale Spitfire Mk26 and the 90% scale Mk26B replicas. To ensure sufficient ground clearance for the new propeller, the undercarriage legs were lengthened by 4.5 in (11 cm). Donald O. Finlay, the commanding officer of 41 Squadron from September 1940 to August 1941, who adopted the aircraft as his personal mount. The Royal Aircraft Establishment noted that, at 400 mph (640 km/h) indicated airspeed, roughly 65% of aileron effectiveness was lost due to wing twist. V. Combat reports showed that an average of 4,500 rounds were needed to shoot down an enemy aircraft.  At first, the ailerons, elevators, and rudder were fabric-covered, but combat experience showed that fabric-covered ailerons were impossible to use at high speeds, a light alloy replaced the fabric, enhancing control throughout the speed range. This frame also tied the four main fuselage longerons to the rest of the airframe. In 1942, the United States acquired a flyable, Japanese, This aircraft survived the war, only to be scrapped in 1945. An experimental factory at Newbury was the subject of a Luftwaffe daylight raid, but the bombs missed their target and hit a nearby school. The Mark numbers used in the aircraft designations did not necessarily indicate a chronological order; for example, the Mk IX was a stopgap measure brought into production before the Mks VII and VIII.  Martindale was awarded the Air Force Cross for his exploits. A team of original Supermarine designers worked with Aerofab Restorations of Andover for 10 years to create the facsimile. The original wing design had a theoretical aileron-reversal speed of 580 mph (930 km/h), which was somewhat lower than that of some contemporary fighters. His story came to a really depressing end", Burma Spitfire Mystery Is Solved 17 February 2013, Buried Spitfires is a tall story, says RAF veteran 23 January 2013, Hunt for legendary Spitfires buried in Burma is back on 8 June 2016, "Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum.  In April 1935, the armament was changed from two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns in each wing to four .303 in (7.7 mm) Brownings, following a recommendation by Squadron Leader Ralph Sorley of the Operational Requirements section at the Air Ministry. Up until the end of 1942, the RAF always used Roman numerals for mark numbers. , Another wing feature was its washout.  The complex wing design, especially the precision required to manufacture the vital spar and leading-edge structures, caused some major delays in the production of the Spitfire at first. , All the main flight controls were originally metal structures with fabric covering. By 1943, Rolls-Royce engineers had developed a new Griffon engine, the 61 series, with a two-stage supercharger. When 150 octane fuel was introduced in mid-1944 the "boost" of the Griffon engine was able to be increased to +25 lbs (80.7"), allowing the top speed to be increased by about 30 mph (26 kn; 48 km/h) to 400 mph (350 kn; 640 km/h) at 2,000 ft (610 m). Because the longer nose and the increased slipstream of the big five-bladed propeller a new tail unit with a taller, broader fin and a rudder of increased area was adopted.. Hill's assistant in making his calculations had been his teenage daughter. The plane had a wingspan of 36 feet 10 inches (11.2 metres), was 29 feet 11 inches (9.1 metres) long, and reached a maximum speed of 360 miles (580 … , What may be the most originally restored Spitfire in the world is maintained at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. In November 1938, tests against armoured and unarmoured targets had already indicated that the introduction of a weapon with a calibre of at least 20 mm was urgently needed. The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928. 131.". , Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era, "Spitfire" redirects here. ", "Monument campaign for WWII female auxiliary pilots", "Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum, Malton, North Yorkshire", "How realistic are Dunkirk's Spitfire flight scenes? However 12 squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force used the variant and continued to do so until March 1951. But I have to admit that the later marks, although they were faster than the earlier ones, were also much heavier and so did not handle so well. The last 45 or so Mk XIIs, were based on Mk VIIIs with two wing fuel tanks, each containing a maximum fuel load of 14 gal, and featured the larger horn balances, retractable tailwheel and undercarriage legs with torque-links, "dished" leg fairings and the stronger Dunlop AH10019 four spoke wheels. Both of these airframes have a significant history in that they were acquired in the Second World War and used in the first war drives, which preceded the US entry into the conflict. A similar contra-rotating propeller unit was later used on production Seafire 46 and 47s. In April 1944, the same aircraft suffered engine failure in another dive while being flown by Squadron Leader Anthony F. Martindale, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, when the propeller and reduction gear broke off. In late 1943 Spitfires powered by Rolls-Royce Griffon engines developing as much as 2,050 horsepower began entering service. The removable wing tips were made up of duralumin-skinned spruce formers.  However, contemporary Allied carrier fighters such as the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair were considerably more robust and so more practical for carrier operations. The Spitfire IIB was a modification of the Spitfire I with a more powerful engine and factory-installed armour plate.  Several versions of the Spitfire, including Mk XIV and Mk XVIII had extra 13 gallon integral fuel tanks in the wing leading edges, between the wing-root and the inboard cannon bay. Many of Supermarine's records from this era were destroyed during a bombing raid in 1940, and none of the surviving documents seemed to pin this down. Private aircraft flew the first Merlin in 1933, but production for the Royal Army started in 1936. Frame five, to which the engine bearers were secured, supported the weight of the engine and its accessories. This modification is known as the Grace Canopy Conversion, and was designed by Nick Grace, who rebuilt ML407.  Martindale successfully glided the Spitfire 20 mi (32 km) back to the airfield and landed safely. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. Media related to Supermarine Spitfire Mark XIV at Wikimedia Commons. The lower cowling lost its "pigeon-chested" appearance, with a shallower curve up to the spinner. When the two-stage Merlin was introduced in the Spitfire Mk IX, the radiators were split to make room for an intercooler radiator; the radiator under the starboard wing was halved in size and the intercooler radiator housed alongside.  The Mk 18s saw little action apart from some involvement against guerrillas in the Malayan Emergency.  The drawing office in which all Spitfire designs were drafted was relocated to Hursley Park, near Southampton. The pitch control mechanism controlled the pitch on the front propeller. "Supermarine unveils its high-performance monoplane today (5 March). The Merlin Mark I, the first iteration of the engine, produced a little more than 1000 horsepower. Search 1000's of Aircraft listings … [nb 3] This eight-minute flight came four months after the maiden flight of the contemporary Hurricane. Pilots who forgot to raise the flaps after landing often found themselves paying a fine. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation m… 72 Squadron RAF until June 1940, when it was damaged in a wheels-up landing. The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire that served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s. The initial solution was to subcontract the work. There were difficulties with management, who ignored Supermarine's tooling and drawings in favour of their own, and the workforce continually threatened strikes or "slow downs" until their demands for higher wages were met.. The fuselage plating was 24, 20, and 18 gauge in order of thickness towards the tail, while the fin structure was completed using short longerons from frames 20 to 23, before being covered in 22 gauge plating.  Apart from these differences the Mk IV airframe was closely related to that of the Merlin-powered Mk III. Data from Spitfire: The History and Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. The final Spitfire variant, the Mk 24, was similar to the Mk 22 except that it had an increased fuel capacity over its predecessors, with two fuel tanks of 33 gal (150 l) each installed in the rear fuselage. , As American fighters took over the long-range escorting of United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) daylight bombing raids, the Griffon-engined Spitfires progressively took up the tactical air superiority role, and played a major role in intercepting V-1 flying bombs, while the Merlin-engined variants (mainly the Mk IX and the Packard-engined Mk XVI) were adapted to the fighter-bomber role. It was this type which was rumoured to have been buried at an airfield in Burma after the war. , In late 1962, Air Marshal Sir John Nicholls instigated a trial when he flew Spitfire PM631, a PR Mk 19 in the custody of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, against an English Electric Lightning F 3 (a supersonic jet-engined interceptor) in mock combat at RAF Binbrook. , The Spitfire's airframe was complex. The cannon suffered frequent stoppages, mostly because the guns were mounted on their sides to fit as much of the magazine as possible within the wing. On 7 March 1942, 15 Mk Vs carrying 90-gallon fuel tanks under their bellies took off from HMS Eagle off the coast of Algeria on a 600-mile (970 km) flight to Malta. Late production aircraft were built with the lighter, short-barrelled, electrically fired Mark V Hispano cannon.  The new wing was initially fitted to a Spitfire Mk XIV. For other uses, see, British single-seat WWII fighter aircraft. 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