Supermarine Spitfire 

The Supermarine Spitfire developed from a mid 1934 Air Ministry requirement for an eight-gunned monoplane fighter with pilot seated in an enclosed cockpit which would house radio equipment and an oxygen supply. Top speed would have to be at least 300-350 mph.

In July 1934 Reginald Mitchell  fighter design incorporating both the Schneider trophy winning aircraft and the type 224,enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage,This new aircraft was designed to house the new Rolls Royce PV12 engine, later to be known as the Merlin.

On 6th November 1934, Vickers gave the go ahead for the construction of a company-funded prototype, the type 300. The prototype Supermarine Type F37/34, registered as K5054, first flew on 5 March 1936 at Eastleigh Airport, after being built at Woolston, with Mutt Summers as pilot on this maiden flight. On 27 March 1936 test pilot Jeffrey Quill flew K5054 to set accurate performance figures of 348 mph at 17,000 feet. The remarkable thin elliptical wing made the Spitfire capable of very high speeds, but it had to be reinforced several times to retain aileron effectiveness.The aircraft was then sent to A&AEE, Martlesham Heath for RAF trials on 26 May 1936.

On 3 June 1936, the RAF placed a production order for 310 Supermarine Spitfires, and on 4 August 1938 the first production Mk I Spitfire, K9789, was delivered to 19 squadron RAF  at Duxford. The Spitfire served as first-line fighter throughout WWII in increasingly fast and powerful versions, first with the Merlin, later with the Griffon engine. The Spitfire was continously changed to meet all kinds of threats and demands, as low- and high altitude fighter, tropicalized, navalized, or equipped as unarmed photo-reconaissance aircraft. Probably the most famous military aircraft ever.

Production ended in October 1947 (Mk.24), 20,334 built. The RAF retired its last
Spitfires - PR Mk. 19 recce aircraft - in 1954.

The first Spitfire delivered to the Royal Navy from the RAF was Spitfire R6817 a Mk Ia to 759 squadron at Eastleigh for assessment. It arrived on 25 June 1940 before the Battle of Britain had commenced. This aircraft however, was returned to the RAF on 14 November 1940.

Further trials were carried out 11 months later on 10 October 1941 when a Spitfire Mk Vb was delivered to 9 MU and thence to 778 squadron at Arbroath in November 1941. Another Spitfire Mk Ia R6706 was assessed as of from 26 February 1942 to Donisbristle but again returned to the RAF on 9 March 1942.

The Admiralty was assessing the opportunities for Navval conversions of the Spitfire, aircraft AB205 formed the first Spitfire to Seafire conversion, and was sent to Worthy Down and underwent trials with 778 squadron between 24 January –June 1942. It was thence sent to the Controller of Research and Development, Worthy Down and to A Flight RAE, Farnborough in January 1943. Meanwhile, a Mk Vc AB504 (the sole Mk Vc) was sent to RNDA GAL Feltham on 7 March 1942 for trial folding wing modifications, and BL676 a Mk Vb was sent to A & AEE, Boscombe Down the same month for handling, radio and IFF trials, and thence to 778 squadron Arbroath in April- May 1942 for deck landing acceptance trials (became Seafire MB328).

The main supply of Spitfires commenced with Mk Va R6887 to RNDA Machrihanish on 31 August 1942, but the main deliveries commenced the following month Mk Ia to Yeovilton, to Arbroath (eg K9900  and K9969), to Yeovilton (Mk Va N3281) and Mk Va to 9 MU to Machrihanish. The majority went to Yeovilton or Lee on Solent and thence to 880 squadron at Stretton for 2 months, thence on to 761 squadron, or alternatively to 801 squadron.

11 Mk Va to 885 squadron at Lee on Solent 9.1942 (eg  N3281)
32 to Yeovilton 9.1942
6 to Arbroath 9.1942
8 to RNDA Machrihanish 9.1942
22 Mk Va to 880 and 801 squadrons at Stretton 9.1942
The standard Mk Vb Spitfires, P7316, P8537 and W3522 were sent to AST Hamble on 4 September 1942 and 18 September 1942 respectively, where a hook was fitted to form Mk Vb/hooked versions, they were thence sent with others to Lee on Solent and then 2 months later to Yeovilton or Machrihanish. Meanwhile R6722 Mk Va presentation aircraft 'Arkwright' was fitted with Roc floats, but after trials was returned to the Royal Navy as a standard Spitfire Mk Va at Yeovilton 8 September 1942.

The last two Spitfire serving with the Royal Navy included Spitfire K9942 which was sent to  52 MU on 28 Augusy 1944 for museum purposes (extant) and BL629 Mk Vb Admiralty type which served with 761 squadron at Henstridge from September 1944 until retirement in February 1945 (extant). 14 former FAA aircraft, which became RAAF Spitfire Vs were handed over to the RAF in Australia for ground handling and technical training in October 1948.

       Fleet Air Arm history
        Total FAA 1939-1945   277
Totals Mk 1a         76 (only one hooked)
Totals Mk IIa          3
Totals Mk IIb          -
Totals Mk Va        26 (some hooked)
Totals Mk Vb      123 (half hooked)
Totals Mk Vc         1
Totals Mk VIII       3
Totals Mk PRXIII 11
Totals Mk L.Vb    22
Totals Mk LF.Vb   2
Totals Mk F.Vb     1
Totals Mk XI         1
Totals Mk HF.IX    1
Totals Mk XII        2
Totals Mk XVI       2
Totals coverted to Seafire
Seafire Mk IIb prototype
      First delivered to RN:               1940 (mainly in 1942)
      First squadron 1939-1945:         759 sqdn for assessment 1940. Main service from 1942
      Operational squadron:               880 and 885 sqdn 8.1942
      Last served with RN                 2.1945
First to RN:                     R6817 Mk Ia to 759 Eastleigh 25.6.40, retd to RAF 14.11.40;
First sqdn:                       Mk Vb 9MU 10.10.41, va crd 3.12.41 and thence 778 sqdn Arbroath 11.41
First sdn Mk Va               885 sqdn at Lee 9.42 (N3281), 801 sqdn Stretton 9.42, P9397 Mk Va Stretton 9.42
Last with RN:                  K9942 to RNDA 17.3.44 to 52 MU 28.8.44 for Museum purposes (extant).
                                     BL629 Mk Vb Admiralty type 761 squadron Henstridge 9.44-2.45 (extant).
                                    RAAF Spitfire Mk Vs 14 handed over to RAF in Australia for ground handling
                                     and technical training in 10.1948
Named Presentation Spitfires in Fleet Air Arm Service

City of Exeter, Devon                  P7964 Mk Va  - to 801 sqdn Stretton,  7.9.42
Arkwright                                      R6722 Mk Va Roc floats fitted. Later to 801 sqdn 9.42
Gateshead                                     R7125 Mk Ia. To 759 sqdn Yeovilton 10.42
Merioneth BA & CI Railway II  R7145 Mk Ia. To RN 9.42 thence to 791 sqdn Arbroath
SYMC Brighton & Hove            R7160 Mk Ia  to 759 sqdn Yeovilton 1.43
The Silver Snipe                 R7193 Mk Ia to 761 sqdn Henstridge 10.42
Frome                                            R7200 Mk Ia to 761 sqdn Henstridge 1943
Preston & district II                    R7207 Mk Va  to 748 sqdn St Merryn 1.43
Grimsby II                                     R7231 Mk Va to 880 sqdn Stretton 9.42
Burnley and district                    R7271 Mk Va/hooked to 801 sqdn Stretton 9.42
The Kir                                         R7335 PRXIII to RN 3.44 thence to 718 sqdn Henstridge
The Flying Fox                            W3328 Mk Vb to 761 sqdn Henstridge 1.45
Kaapstad II                                  W3437 Mk Vb to 808 sqdn 7.44
Cynon Valley                               W3457 Mk Vb  to 761 sdqn ? Henstridge 4.44
John Stevens                               W3756 Mk Vb/hooked to 885 sqdn Lee on Solent 9.42
West India States                       W3769 Mk Vb/hooked to 880 sqdn Stretton 9.42
Rushdens Hell for Leather        W3775 Mk Vb/hooked to 880 sqdn Stretton 8.42
Holt IX                                          W3831 PRXIII to 886 sqdn 3.44
Ceylon II                                       X4604 Mk Ia  to 761 sqdn Henstridge 10.42
Nix over Six Primus                      X4921 Mk Ia  to RNDA 7.43
In memory of R.J.Mitchell          X4936 Mk Ia to 748 sqdn Yeovilton 1944
Manchester weather proof.       AA866 Mk Vb/hooked  to 884 sqdn Lee on Solent 9.42
Dirty Gerty, Vancouver.             AA964 Mk L.Vb  to 806 sqdn 2.44
Dorothy of Great Britain and the Empire
                                                       AB201 Mk Vb to 761 sdqn Henstridge 5.44
Lancastria Avenger I                  AB213 Mk L.Vb/hooked to 759 sqdn Yeovilton 9.44
Scott of Mefeteng                       BL 238 Mk Vb/hooked to 759 sqdn Yeovilton 1.43
Pekalancan                                   BL537 Mk Vb  to 885 sqdn 9.42

Also see Aircraft presented by individuals, firms, and Spitfire Fund Raising by the Spitfire Society

Aircraft Type:
Supermarine Spitfire
Mk.VC detailed here 

Mk 1a, Mk IIa, Mk IIb, Mk Va (some hooked), Mk Vb (half hooked), Mk Vc, Mk VIII, Mk PR.XIII, Mk L.Vb, Mk LF.Vb, F.Vb, Mk XI, Mk HF.IX, XII, XVI, Seafire Mk IIb prototype

Primary Role:
shore-based fighter, carrier borne fighter
First Flight: 
Prototype  5.3.1936 (Mk.IA)
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
One 1,440 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan 36.8 ft (11.23 m) 
Length 29.9 ft (9.12 m) 
Height 11.4 ft (3.48 m) 
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
empty  5,100 lb (2,313 kg) 
max.  6,786 lb (3,078 kg)
Speed  374 mph (602 km/h) 
Ceiling 37,000 ft (11,280 m) 
Range  470 mi (756 k)m
Two 20mm cannons and two .50 calibre machine guns in wings 
Two 250-lb bombs plus one 500-lb bomb on center line
Battle honours:
Additional references and notes:
Differences between Spitfire Marks by the Spitfire Society
Battle Honours and Operational History

Surviving aircraft and relics

 Spitfire MH434 preserved at the Old Flying Machine Company (UK)

 Colour photograph of the Supermarine Spitfire

Preserved spitfire MT719 YB-J BPF

Associations and reunions
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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