The Supermarine Spitfire was designed by Reginald J Mitchell, the Chief Designer at Supermarine Aviation Works; he revised the design until his untimely death in 1937 from cancer, aged just 42 years.
The Spitfire was the only Allied aircraft to be produced throughout the Second World War and was manufactured in more numbers than any other Allied aircraft. The Mark V was the most extensively used variation of the Spitfire during WWII and was developed to rival the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
The unique elliptical wing design produced a thin cross-section which produced less drag than a conventional design, resulting in a higher top speed than several of its contemporary fighters.
The early Spitfire Mark I and II were armed with eight 0.303 Browning machining guns, four in each wing. The Spitfire Mark V was modified to accommodate two cannon and four machine guns with the later Spifire Mark Vc having wings designed to be capable of accommodating eight machine guns or two cannon and four machine guns or four cannon.
The original airframe of the Spitfire was designed to be powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine with the early version producing 1030hp. Due to the robust design of the original airframe it was able to be modified to accommodate the increasingly more powerful Merlin and then later the Rolls Royce Griffon V12 engine which generated up to 2035hp.
The Supermarine Spitfire was produced from 1938 to 1948, with over 20,000 built.
The Spitfire was loved by its pilots as it was very easy to fly, responsive and could out turn many of its counterparts, this coupled with its inherent strength and speed made it a formidable opponent.
Altogether 27 different marks saw service up until 1947 and total Spitfire/Seafire production reached over 22,000. The Spitfire was used in several roles other than fighter including: - Interceptor, Photo Reconnaissance, Fighter Bomber, Carrier based fighter and trainer.
Crew - 1
Length - 29ft 11in. (9.12m)
Wingspan - 36ft 10in. (11.23m)
Height - 11ft 5in. (3.48m)
Empty Weight - 5,065lb (2,297kg)
Max. Weight - 6,700lb (3,039kg)
Max. Speed - 370mph (600km/h)
Range - 479 mile (771km)
SPITFIRE WINGS AND ARMAMENT
The Spitfire had a series of modified wings which were able to house various combinations of armament Each wing variation was given a designation of either 'a' wing, 'b' wing, 'c' wing, 'd' wing, or 'e' wing , as shown below.
The wing designation was combined with the mark number of the Spitfire, e.g. Spitfire Mark Ia.
The original design of the spitfire wing housed eight 0.303" Browning Machine Guns as the firepower was adequate for the light aircraft structures encountered early in the second World War, with most of the Spitfires in the Battle of Britain being 'a' wing aircraft. Each machine gun had 300 rounds.
As armour plate was added to German Bombers, two of the more powerfull 20mm Hispano Cannon were fitted to the Spitfire along with four 0.303" Browning Machine Guns. The Hispano Cannon was considerably larger than the original 0.303" Machine Guns and had to be fitted sideways with the barrel protruding from the leading edge. The modifications necessary were designated as the 'b' wing. Each Cannon had 60 rounds.
A further modification to the wing known as a 'Universal' wing was made that could house various options as necessary depending upon operational requirements: -
i) Eight 0.303" Browning Machine Guns,
ii) Four 20mm Hispano Cannon,
iii) Two 20mm Hispano Cannon and four 0.303 Browning Machine Guns. Each Cannon with 120 rounds,
The 'c' wing could also carry two 250lb bombs under the wings or one 500lb bomb under the fuselage.
Due to the performance of the Spitfire it was also used for photo reconaissance and the 'd' wing was modified to to carry more fuel instead of guns for an increased range. Although the aircraft was unarmed due to its increased performance, due to lightness, its defense was speed.
The 'e' wing was developed to carry either: -
i) Four 20mm Hispano Cannon, or ii) Two 20mm Hispano Cannon and two 0.50" Browning Machine Guns.
The Cannon situated outboard rather than inboard on previous wings to make room for the 0.5" ammunition.