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Supermarine Spitfire

During World War II, the Supermarine Spitfire emerged as a prominent British single-seat fighter aircraft, which found extensive utilization by the Royal Air Force and various Allied nations.

This remarkable aircraft witnessed the production of numerous versions, ranging from the initial Mk 1 to the later Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined Mk 24, incorporating diverse wing configurations and armament systems.

Notably, the Spitfire stood as the sole British fighter aircraft that was consistently manufactured throughout the entirety of the war.

There were a total of 24 different versions of the Spitfire, including various sub-variants.

These encompassed the Spitfire’s evolution from the Merlin to Griffon engines, as well as the specialized high-speed photo-reconnaissance models and the different wing configurations.

Out of all the types, the Spitfire Mk V had the highest production numbers, with a total of 6,487 units built, followed closely by the Mk IX with 5,656 units.

Most versions of the Spitfire were equipped with different wing types, each featuring a range of armaments.

The A wing, for instance, was armed with eight .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns, while the B wing had four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns and two 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano cannons.

The C wing, also known as the universal wing, could be fitted with either four 20 mm (.79 in) cannons or a combination of two 20 mm (.79 in) cannons and four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns.

As the war progressed, the C wing became more prevalent.

Another armament variation was the E wing, which housed two 20 mm (.79 in) cannons and two .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns.

Despite continuous improvements in speed and armament, the Spitfire’s limited fuel capacity remained a constraint on its range and endurance.

Throughout its operational life, it was considered to have relatively short-range capabilities, except when utilized in the dedicated photo-reconnaissance role, where its guns were replaced with additional fuel tanks.

Supermarine, the aircraft manufacturer, developed a variant of their aircraft called the T Mk VIII specifically for training purposes.

However, despite its potential, no orders were placed for this two-seat variant, and only one example was ever built, which was identified as N32/G-AIDN by Supermarine.

Since there was no official two-seater version available, some airframes were crudely converted in the field to serve this purpose.

One such conversion took place in North Africa, where a 4 Squadron SAAF Mk VB had its upper fuel tank in front of the cockpit replaced with a second seat.

It is important to note that although this modification allowed for a second person on board, the aircraft did not have dual controls.

It is believed that this particular aircraft was used by the squadron for general purposes.

Apart from these unofficial conversions, a few Russian lend/lease Mk IX aircraft were also modified to accommodate two seats with dual controls.

These modified aircraft were referred to as Mk IX UTI and differed from the Supermarine proposals in terms of their canopy design.

Instead of the raised “bubble” type canopy used in the T Mk VIII, the Mk IX UTI featured an inline “greenhouse” style double canopy.

During the postwar period, Supermarine revived the concept and proceeded to construct a series of two-seat Spitfires by modifying old Mk IX airframes with an additional “raised” cockpit that incorporated a bubble canopy.

A total of ten TR9 variants were subsequently purchased by the Indian Air Force, while the Irish Air Corps acquired six, the Royal Netherlands Air Force obtained three, and the Royal Egyptian Air Force acquired one.


Supermarine Seafire

The Seafire, an adaptation of the Spitfire for naval use, derived its name from the combination of “sea” and “Spitfire.”

Despite not being originally designed for carrier-deck operations, the Spitfire was regarded as the most superior fighter available during that period.

However, the inherent design of the Spitfire did present certain limitations when it came to utilizing the aircraft as a carrier-based fighter.

For instance, the pilot’s visibility over the nose was compromised, necessitating a unique landing technique where they had to position their heads outside the cockpit and rely on the port cowling of their Seafire for guidance.

Additionally, the Seafire had a relatively narrow undercarriage track, which made it less than ideal for deck operations.

In the early stages, the Seafire models had minimal modifications to the standard Spitfire airframe.

Nevertheless, as frontline experience accumulated, subsequent versions of the Seafire featured reinforced airframes, folding wings, arrestor hooks, and other enhancements.

The pinnacle of these advancements was reached with the purpose-built Seafire F/FR Mk 47.

Merlin Powered Spitfires

Mk Ia

Mk IIa

Mk Vb

LF Mk Vb


Late Merlin and Griffon Powered Spitfires




F Mk 24


Mk IIc



F Mk 47


(Spitfire Mk Vb)




29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)


36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)


11 ft 5 in (3.48 m)

Wing area

242.1 sq ft (22.49 m2)



NACA 2213


NACA 2209.4

Empty weight

5,065 lb (2,297 kg)

Gross weight

6,622 lb (3,004 kg)

Max take-off weight

6,700 lb (3,039 kg)


1 × Rolls-Royce Merlin 45, V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine,

1,470 hp (1,100 kW) 


3 bladed Rotol constant speed propeller


Maximum speed

370 mph (600 km/h, 320 kn)


479 mi (771 km, 416 nmi)

Combat range

248 mi (399 km, 216 nmi)

Ferry range

1,100 mi (1,800 km, 960 nmi) with fuel tank

Service ceiling

36,500 ft (11,100 m)

Rate of climb

2,600 ft/min (13 m/s)

Wing loading

27.35 lb/sq ft (133.5 kg/m2)


0.22 hp/lb (0.36 kW/kg)



A wing

8 × .303 in Browning Mk II* machine guns (350 rounds per gun)

B wing

2 × 20 mm Hispano Mk II (60 rounds per gun)

4 × .303 in Browning Mk II machine guns (350 rounds per gun)

C wing

4 × 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon (120 rounds per gun)

C wing (Alt.)

2 × 20 mm Hispano Mk II (120 rounds per gun)

4 × .303 in Browning Mk II machine guns (350 rounds per gun)

E wing

2 × 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon (120 rounds per gun)

2 × .50 in M2 Browning machine guns (250 rounds per gun)


2 RP-3 rockets (1 under each wing)


The Supermarine Spitfire, Part 1, Merlin Powered-Robert Humpreys.

The Supermarine Spitfire, Part 2 Griffon Powered-Robert Humpreys.

Flypast Special 70-The Spitfire.

Images of War, Star Spangled Spitfires-Tony Holmes.

Osprey Aircam Aviation 04 Supermarine Spitfire in RAF-SAAF-RNZAF-RCAF Foreign Service.

Combat Legend, Spitfire V.I-F 24-Peter Caygill.

Supermarine Company Profile 1913-1963-Martyn Chorlton.

Supermarine, An Illustrated History-Christopher Smith.

American Spitfire Camouflage and Markings Part 1-Ventura Publications.

American Spitfire Camouflage and Markings Part 2-Ventura Publications.

Spitfire Markings of The RAAF, Part 1-Frank Smith & Geoffrey Pentland.

Spitfire Markings of The RAAF, Part 2-Frank Smith & Geoffrey Pentland.

Spitfire, The ANZACs, The RAF Through Colonial Eyes-Malcolm Laird & Steve Mackenzie.

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