Undoubtedly the most famous British combat aircraft of World War II. First flown on March 5,1936, the Spitfire sprang from the design desk of R.J. Mitchell. Once given the freedom to design an aircraft outside of the strict Air Ministry specifications, his Type 300 emerged as a clear winner; so much so that a new Air Ministry specification was written to match the new design.
The Spitfire Mk I became operational in July 1938, and as time went on, the Spitfire was to become one of the most versatile and most-modified aircraft in existence, with various wing designs, armament changes, and engine changes dictating its many identities.
The Royal Navy, noting both the success of the Spitfire in land-based service, and also the success of their own Sea Hurricanes, ordered the production of the Seafire, a carrier-based version of the Spitfire. Deliveries began in January 1942, and the Seafire was used in growing numbers and variants throughout the remainder of the war.
Some of the variants of the Spitfire/Seafire:
- Mk VA/B/C: More powerful Merlin engine, provisions for drop-tanks or bombs, wing and armament changes;
- Mk VII: High-altitude interceptor with pressurized cockpit and retractable tailwheel;
- Seafire Mk IIC: Catapult hooks and strengthened landing gear, Merlin engine, 4-blade propeller;
- Seafire Mk III: Double folding wings and 1,585-hp Merlin 55 engine.
Specifications, Mk VA:
Engines: One 1,478 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 45,V-12 piston engine
Weight, takeoff (lbs): 6,417
Wing Span (feet): 36`10
Length (feet): 29`11
Speed (mph): 369
Ceiling (feet): un known
Range (miles): 1,135
Armament: 8*7.7 mm (0.303) Browning machine guns. (Other variants carried either two cannon and four machine guns; four cannon; or two cannon, two 12.7-mm machine guns, and 1,000 pounds of bombs.)
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||Submarine Spitfire, Great Britain 1940