Close this search box.

Supermarine Scimitar

The Supermarine Scimitar was a single seat naval strike aircraft designed and produced by the British aircraft manufacturer Supermarine.

Operated exclusively by the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, it was the final aircraft to be entirely designed and manufactured by Supermarine.

The Scimitar was developed out of an earlier effort, internally designated Type 505, an undercarriage-less fighter aircraft intended to be flown from rubber decks.

Much of the aircraft’s features, including its unorthodox V-tail or butterfly tail and its thin straight wing, were shared with this ancestor, however, the Admiralty reconsidered their requirements and specified a conventional undercarriage be used.

Accordingly, Supermarine produced the closely-related Type 508, equipped with an enlarged wing and retractable undercarriage.

On 31 August 1951, the Type 508 performed its maiden flight, it was closely followed by the redesigned Type 529 and Type 544, the latter serving as a direct prototype for the production model, making its first flight in January 1956.

During 1957, the first production aircraft were delivered, enabling the Scimitar to enter service with the Royal Navy during the following year.

The aircraft was operated by the Royal Navy as a low level strike aircraft, which included potentially being armed with nuclear weapons, having been superseded as a fighter even prior to its introduction by other aircraft such as the de Havilland Sea Venom and the de Havilland Sea Vixen.

It experienced a relatively high attrition rate due to a spate of accidents.

Towards its latter years of operation, the type was frequently used as an aerial refuelling tanker.

During 1969, the Scimitar was permanently withdrawn, having been replaced in service by newer and more capable aircraft such as the Blackburn Buccaneer.


Supermarine 508 research aircraft


Type 508

Straight-wing research aircraft.

Type 529

Straight-wing research aircraft.

Type 525

Swept-wing research aircraft.


Type 544

Prototype for the Scimitar F.1,

3 built by Vickers-Armstrong Experimental Department at Hursley Park

Production model

Scimitar F.1

Single seat multirole fighter aircraft,

76 built by Vickers-Armstrong at South Marsden

The original order was for 100 aircraft in 1952, this was later reduced to 76.





55 ft 3 in (16.84 m)


37 ft 2 in (11.33 m)


17 ft 4 in (5.28 m)

Wing area

485 sq ft (45.1 m2)

Empty weight

23,962 lb (10,869 kg)

Gross weight

34,200 lb (15,513 kg)


2 × Rolls-Royce Avon 202 turbojet engines,

11,250 lbf (50.0 kN) thrust each 


Maximum speed

640 kn (740 mph, 1,190 km/h) at sea level


1,237 nmi (1,424 mi, 2,291 km)

Service ceiling

46,000 ft (14,000 m)

Rate of climb

6,751 ft/min (34.30 m/s)

Time to altitude

45,000 ft (14,000 m) in 6 minutes 39 seconds

Wing loading

70.515 lb/sq ft (344.28 kg/m2)

(Gross weight)



Four × 30 mm Aden Cannon  with 160 rounds per gun


4 with provisions to carry combinations of:


Up to 16 two or three inch (51 or 76 mm) unguided rockets (4 per pylon)


4 x AGM-12 Bullpup


AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles


4 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs 


1 x Red Beard freefall nuclear bomb.

Share on facebook