Spitfire Prototype K5054, Hendon 1936
Supermarine Spitfire Single-seat high-performance fighter, initially evolved by R J Mitchell as private venture to improve on unsuccessful Supermarine 224 prototype built to Specification F.7/30 -which gave effect to the first designated Air Ministry Operational Requirement (OR. 1). By 1934, PV Supermarine 300 design had been developed to meet OR. 17 and single prototype ordered on December 1, 1934, to conform to Specification F.37/34. Powered by a 990 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin C with DH two-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller, unarmed prototype K5054 first flown at Eastleigh on March 5, 1936. Successively fitted with 1,035 hp Merlin F and 1,030 hp Merlin II and with full armament of eight 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns, before being written off on second day of World War II, September 4, 1939. I have only covered descriptions of the marks of interest.
Spitfire Prototype K5054
Supermarine Spitfire II: Similar to Mk I but powered by 1,175 hp Merlin XII and with operational refinements progressively introduced on Mk Is. Three (or more) Mk Is flown with Merlin XIIs before first production Mk II (Supermarine Type 329) completed in June 1940 at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. Operational use began August 1940 with No 611 Sqn and production totalled 751 Supermarine Spitfire IIA with eight machine guns and 170 Supermarine Spitfire IIB with two cannon and four machine guns. For extended range, Supermarine Spitfire IIA (LR) carried a 30-Imp gal (136-1) fuel tank flush-fitting under the port wing leading-edge; limited use by five RAF squadrons in mid-1941. The Supermarine Spitfire IIC (later, ASR Mk II) was adapted for air-sea rescue duties, with 1,240 hp Merlin XX in place of Merlin XII, rescue packs in the flare chutes and marker bombs under the port wing. About 50 conversions flown by RAF squadrons from 1943. Supermarine Spitfire Vs from RAF stocks made available for squadrons of RAAF, RCAF and RNZAF in Fighter Command, together with, in 1941, three US-manned Eagle squadrons and units of the Forces Aeriennes Francaises Libres. Later marks flown by most of these units as they became available.
Supermarine Seafire II: First naval production variant, based on Spitfire VC airframe, with 'A’ frame hook, catapult spools and fuselage strengthened, armament of two cannon/four mgs in 'C' wing (alternative provision for four cannon) . Provision for RATOG and, like Spitfire VC, could have tropical filter and carry bombs, and/or have 'clipped' wing tips. One original Supermarine Seafire prototype (AD371) converted to Supermarine Seafire IIC prototype, flown February 1942. Production (Supermarine Type 357) by Supermarine (262) and Westland (110); first production aircraft flown May 28, 1942. Initial Supermarine Seafire F Mk IIC had Merlin 45, 46, 50 or 55, and entered service with No 807 Sqn (first Supermarine Seafire unit in FAA) in mid-1942, operating in Operation Torch from HMS Furious with additional Supermarine Seafire squadrons. After successful testing late-1942 of Spitfire I (L1004) fitted with 1,645 hp Merlin 32 with cropped impeller for better low-altitude performance, combined with four-bladed propeller, this engine adopted for Supermarine Seafire L Mk IIC (Supermarine Type 375), with at least 60 of production total to this standard; first operational May 1943 with No 807 Sqn. About 10 aircraft were Supermarine Seafire FR Mk IIC (provisionally, PR L Mk IIC or LR Mk IIC), fitted by Heston Aircraft with one F.24 (20-in/51-cm) vertical and one F.24 (14-in/35.5-cm) oblique cameras in fuselage. First conversion flown July 1943.
Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk IV (initially Type D): First production photo-recce version, developed by Supermarine (as Type 353) based on Mk I fighter airframe, with Merlin III engine, 133-Imp gal (605-1) fuel in wing leading edges and extra oil in port wing. Two cameras in rear fuselage, F.24 (8-in/20.3-cm or 20-01/91-cm) or F.8 (20-in/51-cm). First of two prototype conversions (P9551, P9552) flown September 15, 1940. Starting mid-1941, Supermarine delivered 12 Type D based on Mk I air-frames with Merlin 45 engines, and 217 PR Mk IVs based on Mk V airframes with Merlin 45 or 46 engines, all delivered by March 1943. For service in Middle East, some fitted with Aboukir-developed tropical filter. After RAF detachments of PR Mk IVs to Northern Russia, two/three transferred to Soviet Air Force, May 1944.
Supermarine Spitfire V: Third major production version, combining Mk I/II airframe features with 1,185 hp Merlin 45 single-stage single-speed engine. Prototype installation in a Mk I first flown December 1940 and 154 Mk I and Mk II conversions made in 1941. First production Mk V (Supermarine Type 331) flown from CBAF in June 1941 and production totalled 4,489 at that factory, 1,363 by Supermarine and 635 by Westland. In addition, some 200 Mk I/II convened to Mk V standard. Service use began mid-May with No 92 Sqn. Production included 94 Supermarine Spitfire VA with eight-gun armament, 3,911 Supermarine Spitfire VB with two-cannon/four-mg armament, and 2,467 Supermarine Spitfire VC introducing new wing (Supermarine Type 349) in late 1941 that could carry four cannon without mgs, or two-cannon/four mg arrangement as Mk VB. Total production also included 15 photo-recce Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk V (see separate entry for photo-recce Supermarine Spitfires). For service in Middle and, later, Far East, tropical versions introduced large Volkes dust filter over carburettor air intake under nose, or small filter developed and fitted at Aboukir in Egypt. To extend range, Supermarine Spitfire Vs (and later marks) carried flush-fitting belly tanks of 30- or 45-Imp gal (136- or 205-1) capacity on regular operations, 90-Imp gal (409-1) for special ferry flights or 170-Imp gal (773-1) version used by 17 aircraft flown from Gibraltar to Malta in late 1942. From end-1942, 'fighter' role prefix resulted in Supermarine Spitfire F Mk VA, F Mk VB and F Mk VC designations, using Merlin 45, 46, 50, 50A, 55 or 56 medium-altitude engines. For lower altitude operations, Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk VB used Merlin 45M, 50M or 55M, with cropped supercharger impellers and combat boost rating of 1,585 hp. Many Supermarine Spitfire Vs had wing tips removed ('clipped'), reducing span to 32 ft 2 in (9.80 m). Starting 1942, Supermarine Spitfire Vs were adapted to carry one 250-lb (113-kg) bomb under each wing, or one 500-lb (227-kg) bomb under fuselage in place of long-range tank. Some aircraft were fitted with hooks to tow Hotspur gliders at training schools. One radio-controlled drone version was tested in 1944, and one captured Mk VB was fitted in Germany with 1,475 hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A. In Egypt, two Supermarine Spitfire VCs fitted with extended wing-tips, boosted Merlin 46s and four-blade propellers operated up to 50,000 ft (15,240 m) to intercept Ju 86P-2s. Supermarine Spitfire Vs operated in Europe and Middle East by RAF, RCAF, RNZAF and RAAF squadrons from 1941 onwards; in India/Burma from late 1943, and in Australia, where 245 Supermarine Spitfire VCs and one VB were transferred from RAF to RAAF in 1942-43 (plus 11 lost en route). Starting late-1942, ten squadrons of the SAAF flew Supermarine Spitfire Vs (and/or Mk IXs) in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, including No 40 Sqn operating in the 'Tac R' role for which Supermarine Spitfires carried an oblique camera just behind the cockpit. From mid-1942, some 600 Supermarine Spitfires (mostly Mk Vs) supplied to USAAF units flying in the UK and North Africa on 'reverse lend-lease' basis, retaining RAF serials. Two (or more) Mk VAs to USA in 1941 for evaluation. Supply of Supermarine Spitfires to Soviet Union began early-1943 with transfer of 143 Mk VBs; in late-1943 the RAF released 33 Mk VBs to Portugal. One squadron of the R Egyptian AF was equipped with Supermarine Spitfire VCs.
Supermarine Spitfire VIII: Similar to Mk VII but without pressurised cockpit. Armament as Mk VC, structural and systems improvements as Mk VII, enlarged rudder (except first few aircraft) and compact Aero-Vee tropical filter as standard. Prototype development included Mk III (N3297) fitted with Merlin 61 early-1942. Production (Supermarine Type 360) totalled 1,658 by Supermarine in three designated sub-variants according to altitude rating of engine: Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk VIII with 1,705 hp Merlin 66; Supermarine Spitfire F Mk VIII with 1,565 hp Merlin 61 or 1,710 hp Merlin 63; and Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk VIII with 1,655 hp Merlin 70. Most Supermarine Spitfire VIIIs flew with standard-span wing, but extended or clipped tips used as required operationally without change of designation. Service introduction, mid-1943, principally in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, including some SAAF squadrons. Later, Supermarine Spitfire VIIIs replaced Mk VCs in squadrons operating in the CBI theatre and equipped units of the Indian Air Force. In 1944, RAAF took on charge 251 LF Mk VIIIs for its squadrons in New Guinea; 159 more Mk VIIIs were received post-war. In fighter-bomber role, some Mk VIIIs carried two 500-lb (227-kg) bombs under fuselage; later aircraft used 45-Imp gal (205-1) teardrop long-range tanks in place of earlier slipper type.
Supermarine Spitfire IX:
Fourth major production fighter variant (Supermarine Type 361),
Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI: Basically unarmed photo-recce variant of F Mk IX (fighter), using wing leading-edge tanks as on PR Mk IV, extra oil tank in nose as PR Mk VI and X, camera options as PR Mk X. First few PR Mk XIs by conversion of F Mk IXs in production by Supermarine (Type 374) with Merlin 61 or Merlin 63; later aircraft (Type 365) with retractable tailwheel, broad-chord rudder and Merlin 70. First flight November 21, 1942; total 471 delivered. Served with some 14 RAF squadrons and 21 transferred to USAAF for use by 7th PGinUK, 1943-45.
Max speed, 417 mph (671 km/h) at 24,000ft (7,376 m). Initial climb, 4,350 ft/min (22.0 ml sec). Time to 20,000 ft (6,100 m), 5 min. Service ceiling, 44,000 ft (13,411 m). Ferry range, 2,300 miles (3,701 km). Empty weight, 5,575 Ib (2,523 kg). Gross weight, 7,930 Ib (3,597 kg). Span, 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m). Length, 31 ft 4'lz in (10.47 m). Wing area, 242 sqft (22.48 m2).
Supermarine Spitfire XVI: CBAF production of 1,054 Supermarine Spitfires similar to LF Mk IX but with US Packard-built Merlin 226 engine. Initially with 'C' wing armament, later with 'E' wing, broad-chord rudder and cut-down rear fuselage, most operated with clipped wings and all designated Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk XVI regardless of configuration. Deliveries began October 1944 and service use from November onwards, particularly by four RAF squadrons attacking V-2 sites with bombs.
Supermarine Spitfire F Mk 22: Similar to Mk 21 but with cut-down rear fuselage, 360-deg vision hood and enlarged vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. One prototype (with Mk 21 tail unit) and 287 production aircraft, deliveries starting March 1945 too late for wartime service.
Built by Vickers-Armstrong at Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39/C.23(C). The aircraft was fitted with a Merlin XII. The aircraft was issued to No8MU on 15/11/40. Subsequently issued to No41 squadron on 21/11/40 in whose livery it is shown above. On to No54 squadron on 22/02/41. The aircraft was shot down by an Me Bf109 on 20/04/41 when being flown by PO Jack Stokoe and was abandoned, he had just shot down a Bf110. This aircraft is shown as flown by Sqn Ldr D.O.Finlay, CO of No41 squadron, RAF Hornchurch December 1940. Finlay was flying this aircraft on 23rd November when he was credited with the destruction of a Bf109E near Tonbridge - he got a second Emil over the same area four days later. Top
Built by Vickers-Armstrong at Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39/C.23(C). The aircraft was fitted with a Merlin XII. This was a presentation aircraft “Cuba” and was issued to 37MU on the 18/04/41. It subsequently served on the following squadrons. No610 squadron from 02/06/41, No616 squadron from 19/07/41, No315 squadron from 26/07/41, No266 squadron from 06/09/41, No65 squadron from 25/09/41. Then again with No616, No610 and No504 squadron from 25/11/41.Carried out a forced landing and crashed near Kirkistown, Northern Ireland on 14/01/42. To Short and Harland on 17/01/42 for repair no record of its fate after this point. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. at Eastleigh under contract number B19713/39. It was part of an order for 500 Spitfire Mk I but was constructed as a Spitfire Mk.V between July 1940 and February 1941. A presentation aircraft “Kaffraria I”, first flown by George Pickering on 07/05/41and delivered to 9MU the following day. It was issued to No609 squadron on the 31/05/41 It was damaged on operations on 31/07/41although the damage couldn’t have been significant as the aircraft was repaired on site. On 10/01/42 the aircraft was transferred to No401 squadron. Unfortunately it was categorised as “Category E” whilst on operations 28/02/42. Top
Built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39. It was part of an order for 1000 Spitfire FMkIII but were built as Spitfire FMkVB between November 1941 and May 1942. Delivered to 37MU on 10/01/42 and issued to No132 squadron on 13/03/42. On the 02/05/42 it was damaged by Bristol Beaufighter X7937 at Sum burgh and declared Category AC. It subsequently served on the following squadrons. No129 squadron from 22/10/42, No602 squadron from 29/11/42, No66 squadron from 19/02/43, No234 squadron from 19/04/43, No312 squadron from 26/03/43, No317 squadron from 04/10/43. To Vickers Armstrong South Marston on 05/11/43 for fuel system modifications to be embodied. Issued to No277 squadron on 25/04/44 but suffered a flying accident on 31/03/44 being declared Category AC. Taken to Air Service Training for repair the issued to the Central Gunnery School on 03/10/44. It suffered an engine failure due to a coolant leak and had a wheels up landing near Catfoss, Hornsea, East Yorkshire on 01/10/45 and declared Category E, the aircraft was subsequently struck off charge on 04/10/45. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. At one of its dispersal units. This aircraft was allocated the identification letter “X” and first flew on 06/08/42 and three days later was delivered to No1 PRU. On to RAF Portreath on 26/09/42 and undertook a ferry flight to Gibraltar on 27/09/42. Issued to No544 squadron the aircraft was declared Category E as it failed to return from operations on 10/11/42. Top
Built by Westland Aircraft Ltd. Under contract number B124305/40. It was part of an order for 200 Spitfire FMkV aircraft built between September 1942 and February 1943 and fitted with a Merlin 46 engine. Delivered to 33MU on 19/10/42 and issued to No234 squadron on 17/11/42. It subsequently served with the following units. No602 squadron from 25/01/43, No412 squadron from 19/04/43, No317 squadron from 28/06/43, No52OTU from 24/01/44, Air Service Training and No17 squadron Fighter training school on 17/10/44 to 5 Advanced Fighter Unit on 14/07/45. The aircraft was struck of charge as Category E on 19/07/46. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number B197813/39. It was part of an order for 500 Spitfire Mk.V but was constructed as a Spitfire PRXI with Merlin 61 engine fitted and built at Chattis Hill. It was then issued to RAF Benson on 29/06/43. Transferred to No541 squadron on 22/07/43. Transferred to 8OTU on 11/09/43 the aircraft suffered a flying accident on 24/04/45 and was declared Category E, the aircraft was subsequently struck off charge on 26/04/45. Top
Built by Vickers Armstrong Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39. It was part of an order for 904 Spitfire Mk.V built between April and August 1942 and was fitted with a Merlin 46 engine. Delivered to 12MU on 20/07/42 and then on to 47MU ON 26/08/42. Placed on board SS Atlantic City 08/09/42 and was noted at Malta on 01/07/43. Served in the Middle East from 01/09/43, North West Africa from 01/10/43 and Mediterranean Allied Air Forces from 21/06/45. When aircraft were deployed overseas the actual units in which they served were not recorded just the theatre of operations, therefore the final fate of this aircraft may never be known. Top
Built by Vickers Armstrong Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39. It was part of an order for 750 Spitfire Mk.V built between August and December 1942 and fitted with a Merlin 46 engine. Delivered to 39MU on 17/11/42 and issued to 82MU on 15/10/42. Aircraft placed on board the SS Empire Clive on 11/12/42 to Takoradi, Ghana on 23/01/43. Served in the Middle East from 08/03/43 and with the North African Allied Strategic Command from 31/10/43. The aircraft was declared Category 3 on operations on 01/06/44, it was re-categorised A and sent to Turkey on 22/02/45. The fate of this aircraft whilst in turkey will be researched at a later date. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number Aircraft/1877/C.23(C). It was part of an order for 800 Spitfire Mk.VIII which were built between November 1942 and April 1944 and fitted with a Merlin 63 engine. It was constructed at Chattis Hill. Delivered to 39MU on 12/07/43 and onward to 222MU on 25/07/43. By 30/11/43 the aircraft was in Casablanca, North Africa. By 01/12/43 the aircraft was in India with No152 (Hyderabad) squadron it failed to return from operations on 14/01/44. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number Aircraft/1877/C.23(C). It was part of an order for 800 Spitfire Mk.VIII which were built between November 1942 and April 1944 and fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. It was constructed at Chattis Hill. Delivered to 6MU on 17/03/44 and on to 82MU on 29/03/44. Arrived in Australia on SS Diamed 27/06/44. Delivered 07/44. Authorised for write off 05/46, struck off 11/48.Australian serial No.A58-486. Top
Built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich under contract number B981687/39. It was part of an order for 989 Spitfire Mk.Vb which were built between December 1942 and April 1943 and fitted with Merlin 46. Delivered to 12MU on 24/02/43 then on to 215MU on 06/03/43. Placed on board SS672 on 25/03/43 arriving in Gibraltar on 12/04/43. Served in North West Africa from 31/05/43 and Malta form 01/07/43. It seems to have ended up in Sicily although there are no dates and the final fate of this aircraft is unknown. Top
Built by Westland aircraft Ltd under contract number B124305/40 as part of an order for 213 Seafire Mk.IIC built between January 1943 and January 1944.The aircraft was fitted with a Merlin 50 engine. It was delivered to 15MU Wroughton on 18/05/43 to be operationally equipped. Aircraft may have been subsequently delivered to Worthy Down and may have equipped 833 squadron. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number Aircraft/1877/C.23(C). It was part of an order for 800 Spitfire Mk.VIII which were built between November 1942 and April 1944 and fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. It was constructed at Chattis Hill.. Delivered to 9MU on 21/12/43 and on to 222MU on 10/01/44. Put on board the SS Masir 08/02/44 arriving in India 25/03/44. The aircraft was struck off charge 27/03/47. This effectively was the RAF’s means of not leaving serviceable aircraft for the newly formed IAF. They were written off by the dropping of a large concrete block from a crane. If this was the fate of this aircraft is unsure but it is likely. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number B19913/39. It was part of an order for 2190 Spitfire MkVC/IX/XVI built between July 1943 and May 1944.It was fitted with a Merlin 63 engine. Delivered to 39MU on 04/09/43 then to 405ARF on 15/09/43. It subsequently served with No165 squadron from 29/09/43 where it suffered a flying accident and was categorised AC but was repaired on site on 01/12/43. It served with the following units No453 squadron from 11/04/44, No33 squadron from 16/05/44, No310 squadron from 08/07/44 and No504 squadron from 15/07/44. It returned to Vickers Armstrong’s for modifications on 09/11/44. It’s fate after this is not known. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number B19913/39. It was part of an order for 2190 Spitfire MkVC/IX/XVI built between July 1943 and May 1944.It was fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. Delivered to 33MU on 12/12/43 and then on to 82MU on 23/12/43. Placed on board SS Leeds City on 21/01/44 arriving in Casablanca on 17/02/44. Issued to No87 squadron and was declared category 3 whilst on operations 16/06/44. Its final fate is not known. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number B19913/39. It was part of an order for 2190 Spitfire MkVC/IX/XVI built between July 1943 and May 1944.It was fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. Delivered to 39MU on 02/03/44 and subsequently issued to No56 squadron on 27/05/44.Subsequently serving with the following units No402 squadron from 17/07/44 with whom it was repaired on site from a non-specified incident on 29/07/44, No126 squadron from 04/09/44. Delivered to Miles Aircraft Ltd on 14/02/45 it was returned to 29MU on 15/05/45 and after some time in storage was issued to No130 squadron on 21/03/46. The aircraft suffered a flying accident on the 20/08/46, it struck the ground near Husseys Farm, Lower Froyle in Hampshire whilst flying in formation in cloud and unfortunately the pilot was killed. The aircraft was declared category E and was subsequently struck off charge on the 29/08/46. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number Aircraft/1877/C.23(C). It was part of an order for 800 Spitfire Mk.VIII which were built between November 1942 and April 1944 and fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. It was constructed at Southampton. Delivered to 9MU on 08/05/44 then on to 222MU on 21/05/44. Placed on board the SS Argyll on 01/06/44 it arrived in Casablanca on 13/06/44. It served in the Middle East theatre from 30/06/45 and was finally struck off charge on 30/12/46. Top
Built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Castle Bromwich) Ltd but as Castle Bromwich closed in December 1945 the order was transferred to the Supermarine works at South Marston under contract number B981687/39. It was part of an order for 800 Mk.IX built between June 1944 and December 1945. It was fitted with a Griffon 61 engine. Delivered to 29MU on 06/12/45 it was returned to Vickers-Armstrongs South Marston on the 03/06/46. To 296 Communication Flight, Malta on 11/07/47. It suffered a flying accident on 18/07/47 whilst on a ferry flight being transferred by No1 Ferry Unit and was declared category AC. The aircraft was subsequently recategorised E and struck off charge and scrapped on 22/08/47. Top
Built by Supermarine Aviation (Vickers) Ltd. Under contract number B19913/39. It was part of an order for 1500 Spitfire Mk 21 but this order was cancelled then amended to build 673 Mk.IX/XVI between June and October 1944. It was fitted with a Merlin 66 engine. Delivered to 33MU on 30/07/44 and moved on to 222MU on 10/08/44. The aircraft was placed on board SS Silver Guava on 22/08/44 arriving in Casablanca on 11/09/44. It service was obviously in North Africa and the Middle East but this is not recorded. It was transferred to the Indian Air Force on 26/06/47 as MM4056. It’s final fate is not known. Top
Built by Vickers Armstrong’s (Castle Bromwich) under contract number B1981687/39. It was part of an order for 800 Spitfire Mk21 this contract was cancelled and partially reinstated to build 558 Spitfire Mk.IX which were built as a combination of Mk.IX/XVI between September and November 1944. It was fitted with a Packard-Merlin 266. Delivered to 6MU on 16/08/45 and issued to No695 squadron on 05/09/45, records show that the squadron operated this type and mark of aircraft until at least February 1949. After this date it is not known where the aircraft was kept but it was declared non-effective stock on 14/12/54. It was sold for scrap to Eyre Smelting Company on 13/05/56. Top
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