-The Super Marine Spitfire-


Aruably the most famous British warplane of all time, the Spitfire was was a private venture
designed and headed up by Reginald J. Mitchell. The design was built around a Rolls
Royce PV.12 power plant. The design itself impressed the RAF considerably because the
aircraft of the time was by far advanced and specifications of the time being F.7/30 in 1930
failed to produce anything faster than the Gloster Gladiator. To specification F:37/30,
describing a short-range interceptor and written around the Mitchell's machine, a prototype
was constructed and made its maiden flight on March 5, 1936. The Spitfire's airframe which
was all-metal monocoque, was strong and light. Combined with good handling and its
perfromance with a 1,030 hp Merlin engine including a top speed of 355 mph was most
impressive to he Air Ministry. They immediately ordered some 310 examples, the first
entering service in June 1938, with No 19 suadron at RAF Duxford. There were 9 fighter
commands that were equipped with the type at the outbreak of the war.
The MK I armed with 8 0.303-in machine guns made it combat debut on October 16, 1939,
when aircraft from No squadrons 602 and 603 shot down two German bombers over
Scotland. The Spitfire was at first kept back for the defense of Britain so it never saw its first
real action until 1940. In the summer of 1940 nineteen squadrons combined with 29
Hurricane units to defend the British Isles against the German Luftwaffe in the Bttle of
Britain. During the battle Spitfire MK I's wer combined with Spitfire MK II's. After the battkle
MK II's tokk part in the first fighter offensive across the English Channel, but it was the MK V
the next variant that was to form the backbone of Fighter Command from early 1941. The
MK V was powered by a 1,440 hp Merlin 45. The MK V's strengthened airframe was able to
carry long-range fuel tanks as well as bombs. The first examples were converted from MK I's
and II's, and delivered to Malta in March of 1942 in a effort to bolster the islands defences.
Later due to the Luftwaffe's new Focke Wulf FW-190 fighter the designers were forced to
improve the Spitfire still further.
Though it was intended that the MK VIII would replace the MK V on the production line, the
urgency of the necesaty requirements resulted in the MK IX entering service first and in
larger numbers. Both types had a 1,710 hp Merlin 63series engine, with a two-stage,
two-speed supercharger.
The MK IX had a top speed of 408 mph and entered service in July of 1942. Most of these
typs served in northern, southern , and western Europe. Over 5,600 MK IX's were built,
equipping some 90 squadrons. There they were combined with MK XVI's. The XVI was the
last major Merlin engine variant, entering service in late 1944. Essentially the MK XVI was
fitted with a Packard-built Merlin engine. In its service this variant was better known for a
fighter bomber. Late production IX's and XVI's were notable for their clear-view "bubble"
canopy, extra internal fuel and revised armament, including a 20-mm cannon and 0.5-in
machine guns.

The Spitfire MK 1 Stats
Type: Single-seat fighter

Span: 36' 10"
Length: 29' 11"
Height: 12' 8"
Weight empty: 4,517 lbs.
Engine: One 1,030 hp Rolls Royce Merlin III.
Armament: 8 X 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns mounted in outer wings.


Maximum speed: 362 mph
Range: 415 miles
Surface ceiling: 31,500 ft

The Spitfire MK IX Stats
Type: Single-seat fighter

Span: 36' 10"
Length: 31' 1"
Height: 12' 8"
Weight empty: 5,634 lbs.
Engine: One 1,565 hp Rolls Royce Merlin 61.
Armament: 2 X 20mm cannon and 4 X 0.303-in machine guns or 4 X 20-mm cannon mounted
in each wing plus 1,000il of bombs.


Maximum speed: 408 mph
Range: 980 miles
Surface ceiling: 43,000 ft