Supermarine Seafire Mk.47

Supermarine Seafire Mk.47

The Supermarine Seafire Mk.47 was the final, and best, version of the Seafire, and combined the contra-rotating propellers of the Seafire F.46 with folding wings that made it fully suited for carrier operations.

The folding wings were of a new design. The hinge was placed just outside the cannon bay, further out than on the Seafire III. When folded the wings were lower than on the Seafire III, and so the folding wing-tips of the earlier aircraft were no longer need. The first four aircraft had manually folded wings, but after that a hydraulic system was installed, and the wings could be folded in ten seconds.

The Mk.47 had a stronger wing than the Mk.46. As a result it could carry two 500lb bombs or eight 60lb rockets, or two 22.5 gallon under wing fuel tanks. It could also carry a 90 gallon drop tank under the fuselage. Despite all of these additions the top speed only dropped to 433mph at 24,000ft.

The Mk.47 had a revised undercarriage. The oleo leg stroke was increased by one inch, and the undercarriage wheels were placed one foot further apart, a move that would have greatly improved the landing characteristics of earlier models.

The first fourteen aircraft were powered by the Griffon 87, but the rest of the 89 production aircraft (built by Supermarine at South Marston) were powered by the Griffon 88, which used a Rolls-Royce fuel-injection system instead of the carburettor used on earlier Spitfires and Seafires.

Most of the 89 aircraft were built as the FR.Mk.47, and carried one vertical and one oblique F.24 camera.

Production of the Mk.47 was slow, and it didn’t enter squadron service until January 1948, when No.804 Squadron received its first aircraft. Production ended early in 1949 (January or March). Just after this No.800 Squadron became the second operational unit to receive the type. In May 1949, when No.804 Squadron converted to the Sea Fury, No.800 became the only Seafire squadron.

No.800 Squadron thus became the only squadron to use the Seafire Mk.47 in combat. The type's combat debut came on 21 October 1949, when ten Seafires and twelve Fireflies based on-shore carried out an attack on an enemy camp in Malaya. The squadron flew a series of missions over Malaya before re-embarking on HMS Furious on 5 February 1950.

Six months later the squadron was back in combat, this time operating from the carrier. On 25 June, the day after the Triumph ended a visit to Japan, North Korean invaded South Korea. The Triumph joined the US 7th Fleet, and soon sailed for Korea. The first combat mission of the war came on 3 July when 12 Seafire Mk.47s and nine Firefly FR.1s took part in an attack on a North Korean base. HMS Triumph remained in the combat area for eleven weeks. During that period the squadron had used a total of twenty six Seafires. Twelve survived the fighting, although only three were considered airworthy and only one was cleared for combat!

In November 1950 HMS Triumph returned to Britain, and No.800 Squadron was disbanded, ending the front-line career of the Seafire.

Engine: Griffon 87 or Griffon 88
Power: 2,145hp or 2,350hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 36ft 11in
Wing span folded: 19ft 1in
Length: 34ft 4in (to tip of arrestor hook)
Height: 12ft 9in (tail down)
Empty Weight: 7,625lb
Loaded Weight: 10,200lb
Maximum Weight: 12,750lb
Max Speed: 451mph at 20,000ft or 433mph at 24,000ft
Rate of Climb: 4,800ft/ minute
Service Ceiling: 43,100ft
Range: 405 miles plus 15 minutes combat or 1,475 maximum
Armament: Four 20mm British Hispano Mk V cannon
Bomb-load: Two 500lb or 250lb bombs or eight 60lb rockets or one Mk IX depth charge

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Supermarine Seafire Mk.47

Post by Grünherz » 01 Jun 2004, 09:29

As an aviation buff I always thought that the Seafire (actually Sea Spitfire) Mk.47 was a pretty cool aircraft--a "Spit" with contra-rotating props!
One has been restored to flying condition and pictures can be found on the following website. I hope that I am not disobeying forum rules in posting.
If this link doesn't work (I'm a newbie), just type in "seafire mk.47" and you'll find it among the websites.

BTW, I just got back from an airshow in Watsonville, California. Many Mustangs, an Ha-1112, Bearcat, etc. AND a Sea Fury (which put on a GREAT display--despite a pre-takeoff accident with it's smoke canisters). Have you guys seen pictures--or the aircraft itself--of that Sea Fury with the incredible "flame" paint job. Not the one at this airshow, however.

Supermarine Seafire Mk.47 - History

Constructed as a Seafire F.XVII.
Built by Westland, Yeovil.

Taken on Strength/Charge with the Royal Navy with s/n SX336.

Transferred to RNAS Bramcote.
May have possibly served with 1833NAS, RNVR.

New serial number assigned: A2055 RN

Assigned to RNAS Stretton for storage.

To Joseph Brierley and Son, Warrington.
In scrapyard.

To Peter Arnold, Newport Pagnell.
Fuselage discovered in a derelict state, recovered with parts of SX300.

To Craig Charleston, Hemel Hempstead.

Restoration started.
With parts of SX300 and wings of Seafire XV LA546.

From 19 September 1989 to 21 November 2001

To Peter John Wood with new c/r G-BRMG.

From 21 November 2001 to 30 October 2003

To Timothy John Manna keeping c/r G-BRMG.

Certificate of airworthiness for G-KASX (SEAFIRE MK.XVII, FLWA 25488) issued.

To Timothy John Manna, Home FARM House, Old Warden Park, Old Warden, Biggleswade with new c/r G-KASX.

First post-restoration Flight.
Operated under Kennet Aviation, based at North Weald.

Markings Applied: 105, VL
105 on rear fuselage, RNAS Yeovilton code VL on tail. In the markings of 776NAS based at RNAS Yeovilton.

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RNAS Yeovilton Air day

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RNAS Yeovilton Air Day

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at Duxford

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at Duxford

Wheels up landing at Bondues Aerodrome, France.

Repair started.
Aircraft recovered to UK and repairs started, possible completion in 2014.

Photographer: Thomas Delvoye
Notes: RAF Fairford, UK


Origins Edit

In 1931 the Air Ministry released specification F7/30, calling for a modern fighter capable of a flying speed of 250 mph (400 km/h). R. J. Mitchell designed the Supermarine Type 224 to fill this role. The 224 was an open-cockpit monoplane with bulky gull-wings and a large, fixed, spatted undercarriage powered by the 600-horsepower (450 kW), evaporatively cooled Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine. [5] It made its first flight in February 1934. [6] Of the seven designs tendered to F7/30, the Gloster Gladiator biplane was accepted for service. [7]

The Type 224 was a big disappointment to Mitchell and his design team, who immediately embarked on a series of "cleaned-up" designs, using their experience with the Schneider Trophy seaplanes as a starting point. [7] This led to the Type 300, with retractable undercarriage and a wingspan reduced by 6 ft (1.8 m). This design was submitted to the Air Ministry in July 1934, but was not accepted. [8] It then went through a series of changes, including the incorporation of an enclosed cockpit, oxygen-breathing apparatus, smaller and thinner wings, and the newly developed, more powerful Rolls-Royce PV-XII V-12 engine, later named the "Merlin". In November 1934 Mitchell, with the backing of Supermarine's owner Vickers-Armstrong, started detailed design work on this refined version of the Type 300. [9]

On 1 December 1934, the Air Ministry issued contract AM 361140/34, providing £10,000 for the construction of Mitchell's improved Type 300, design. [10] On 3 January 1935, they formalised the contract with a new specification, F10/35, written around the aircraft. [11] In April 1935, the armament was changed from two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns in each wing to four .303 in (7.7 mm) Brownings, [12] following a recommendation by Squadron Leader Ralph Sorley of the Operational Requirements section at the Air Ministry. [13]

On 5 March 1936, [14] [nb 1] the prototype (K5054), fitted with a fine-pitch propeller to give more power for takeoff, took off on its first flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport) At the controls was Captain Joseph "Mutt" Summers, chief test pilot for Vickers, who is quoted as saying "Don't touch anything" on landing. [15] [nb 2] This eight-minute flight [13] came four months after the maiden flight of the contemporary Hurricane. [17]

K5054 was fitted with a new propeller, and Summers flew the aircraft on 10 March 1936 during this flight, the undercarriage was retracted for the first time. [18] After the fourth flight, a new engine was fitted, and Summers left the test flying to his assistants, Jeffrey Quill and George Pickering. They soon discovered that the Spitfire [nb 3] [21] was a very good aircraft, but not perfect. The rudder was oversensitive, and the top speed was just 330 mph (528 km/h), little faster than Sydney Camm's new Merlin-powered Hurricane. [23] A new and better-shaped two bladed wooden propeller allowed the Spitfire to reach 348 mph (557 km/h) in level flight in mid-May, when Summers flew K5054 to RAF Martlesham Heath and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE). Here, Flight Lieutenant Humphrey Edwardes-Jones took over the prototype for the RAF. [24] He had been given orders to fly the aircraft and then to make his report to the Air Ministry on landing. Edwardes-Jones' report was positive his only request was that the Spitfire be equipped with an undercarriage position indicator. [25] A week later, on 3 June 1936, the Air Ministry placed an order for 310 Spitfires, [26] before the A&AEE had issued any formal report. Interim reports were later issued on a piecemeal basis. [27]

Initial production Edit

The British public first saw the Spitfire at the RAF Hendon air display on Saturday 27 June 1936. Although full-scale production was supposed to begin immediately, numerous problems could not be overcome for some time, and the first production Spitfire, K9787, did not roll off the Woolston, Southampton assembly line until mid-1938. [1]

In February 1936 the director of Vickers-Armstrong, Sir Robert MacLean guaranteed production of five aircraft a week, beginning 15 months after an order was placed. On 3 June 1936, the Air Ministry placed an order for 310 aircraft, at a cost of £1,395,000. [28] Full-scale production of the Spitfire began at Supermarine's facility in Woolston, but the order clearly could not be completed in the 15 months promised. Supermarine was a small company, already busy building Walrus and Stranraer flying boats, and Vickers was busy building Wellington bombers.

The initial solution was to subcontract the work. [28] Although outside contractors were supposed to be involved in manufacturing many important Spitfire components, especially the wings, Vickers-Armstrong (the parent company) was reluctant to see the Spitfire being manufactured by outside concerns, and was slow to release the necessary blueprints and subcomponents. [29]

As a result of the delays in getting the Spitfire into full production, the Air Ministry put forward a plan that its production be stopped after the initial order for 310, after which Supermarine would build Bristol Beaufighters. The managements of Supermarine and Vickers were able to convince the Air Ministry that production problems could be overcome, and a further order was placed for 200 Spitfires on 24 March 1938. The two orders covered the K, L, and N prefix serial numbers. [29]

The first production Spitfire came off the assembly line in mid-1938 [1] and was flown by Jeffrey Quill on 15 May 1938, almost 24 months after the initial order. [30] The final cost of the first 310 aircraft, after delays and increased programme costs, came to £1,870,242 or £1,533 more per aircraft than originally estimated. [31] A production aircraft cost about £9,500. The most expensive components were the hand-fabricated and finished fuselage at roughly £2,500, then the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine at £2,000, followed by the wings at £1,800 a pair, guns and undercarriage, both at £800 each, and the propeller at £350. [32]

Manufacturing at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham Edit

In 1935, the Air Ministry approached Morris Motors Limited to ask how quickly their Cowley plant could be turned to aircraft production. In 1936, this informal request for major manufacturing facilities was replaced by a formal scheme, known as the shadow factory plan, to boost British aircraft production capacity under the leadership of Herbert Austin. He was given the task of building nine new factories, and to supplement the British car manufacturing industry by either adding to overall capacity or increasing the potential for reorganisation to produce aircraft and their engines. [33]

In 1938, construction began on the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory (CBAF), next to the aerodrome, and the installation of the most modern machine tools then available began two months after work started on the site. [31] Although Morris Motors, under Lord Nuffield (an expert in mass motor-vehicle construction), managed and equipped the factory, it was funded by the government. By the beginning of 1939, the factory's original estimated cost of £2,000,000 had more than doubled, [34] and even as the first Spitfires were being built in June 1940, the factory was still incomplete, and suffering from personnel problems. The Spitfire's stressed-skin construction required precision engineering skills and techniques that were beyond the capabilities of the local labour force, and some time was required to retrain them. There were difficulties with management, who ignored Supermarine's tooling and drawings in favour of their own, and the workforce continually threatened strikes or "slow downs" until their demands for higher wages were met. [35]

In spite of promises that the factory would be producing 60 per week starting in April, by May 1940 Castle Bromwich had not yet built its first Spitfire. [34] [36] On 17 May, Minister of Aircraft Production Lord Beaverbrook telephoned Lord Nuffield and manoeuvred him into handing over control of the Castle Bromwich plant to his ministry. [37] Beaverbrook immediately sent in experienced management staff and workers from Supermarine, and gave control of the factory to Vickers-Armstrong. Although resolving the problems took time, in June 1940, 10 Mk IIs were built 23 rolled out in July, 37 in August, and 56 in September. [38] By the time production ended at Castle Bromwich in June 1945, a total of 12,129 Spitfires (921 Mk IIs, [39] 4,489 Mk Vs, 5,665 Mk IXs, [40] and 1,054 Mk XVIs [39] ) had been built, at a maximum rate of 320 per month, making CBAF the largest Spitfire factory in the UK and the largest and most successful plant of its type during the 1939–45 conflict.

Production dispersal Edit

During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe made concerted efforts to destroy the main manufacturing plants at Woolston and Itchen, near Southampton. The first bombing raid, which missed the factories, came on 23 August 1940. Over the next month, other raids were mounted until, on 26 September 1940, both factories were destroyed, [41] with 92 people killed and a large number injured. Most of the casualties were experienced aircraft production workers. [42]

Fortunately for the future of the Spitfire, many of the production jigs and machine tools had already been relocated by 20 September, and steps were being taken to disperse production to small facilities throughout the Southampton area. [41] To this end, the British government requisitioned the likes of Vincent's Garage in Station Square, Reading, which later specialised in manufacturing Spitfire fuselages, and Anna Valley Motors, Salisbury, which was to become the sole producer of the wing leading-edge fuel tanks for photo-reconnaissance Spitfires, as well as producing other components.

A purpose-built works, specialising in manufacturing fuselages and installing engines, was built at Star Road, Caversham in Reading. [42] The drawing office in which all Spitfire designs were drafted was relocated to Hursley Park, near Southampton. This site also had an aircraft assembly hangar where many prototype and experimental Spitfires were assembled, but since it had no associated aerodrome, no Spitfires ever flew from Hursley.

Four towns and their satellite airfields were chosen to be the focal points for these workshops: [41] Southampton's Eastleigh Airport Salisbury's High Post and Chattis Hill aerodromes [nb 5] Trowbridge's Keevil aerodrome [43] and Reading's Henley and Aldermaston aerodromes.

An experimental factory at Newbury was the subject of a Luftwaffe daylight raid, but the bombs missed their target and hit a nearby school.

Completed Spitfires were delivered to the airfields on large Commer "Queen Mary" low-loader articulated lorries (trucks), there to be fully assembled, tested, then passed on to the RAF. [42]

Flight testing Edit

All production aircraft were flight tested before delivery. During the Second World War, Jeffrey Quill was Vickers Supermarine's chief test pilot, in charge of flight testing all aircraft types built by Vickers Supermarine. He oversaw a group of 10 to 12 pilots responsible for testing all developmental and production Spitfires built by the company in the Southampton area. [nb 6] Quill devised the standard testing procedures, which with variations for specific aircraft designs operated from 1938. [44] [45] Alex Henshaw, chief test pilot at Castle Bromwich from 1940, was placed in charge of testing all Spitfires built at that factory. He co-ordinated a team of 25 pilots and assessed all Spitfire developments. Between 1940 and 1946, Henshaw flew a total of 2,360 Spitfires and Seafires, more than 10% of total production. [46] [47]

Henshaw wrote about flight testing Spitfires:

After a thorough preflight check, I would take off and, once at circuit height, I would trim the aircraft and try to get her to fly straight and level with hands off the stick . Once the trim was satisfactory, I would take the Spitfire up in a full-throttle climb at 2,850 rpm to the rated altitude of one or both supercharger blowers. Then I would make a careful check of the power output from the engine, calibrated for height and temperature . If all appeared satisfactory, I would then put her into a dive at full power and 3,000 rpm, and trim her to fly hands and feet off at 460 mph (740 km/h) IAS (Indicated Air Speed). Personally, I never cleared a Spitfire unless I had carried out a few aerobatic tests to determine how good or bad she was.

The production test was usually quite a brisk affair the initial circuit lasted less than ten minutes and the main flight took between twenty and thirty minutes. Then the aircraft received a final once-over by our ground mechanics, any faults were rectified and the Spitfire was ready for collection.

I loved the Spitfire in all of her many versions. But I have to admit that the later marks, although they were faster than the earlier ones, were also much heavier and so did not handle so well. You did not have such positive control over them. One test of manoeuvrability was to throw her into a flick-roll and see how many times she rolled. With the Mark II or the Mark V one got two-and-a-half flick-rolls but the Mark IX was heavier and you got only one-and-a-half. With the later and still heavier versions, one got even less. The essence of aircraft design is compromise, and an improvement at one end of the performance envelope is rarely achieved without a deterioration somewhere else. [48] [49]

When the last Spitfire rolled out in February 1948, [50] a total of 20,351 examples of all variants had been built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s. [3] The Spitfire was the only British fighter aircraft to be in continuous production before, during, and after the Second World War. [51]

Airframe Edit

In the mid-1930s, aviation design teams worldwide began developing a new generation of fighter aircraft. The French Dewoitine D.520 [52] and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, for example, were designed to take advantage of new techniques of monocoque construction, and the availability of new, high-powered, liquid-cooled, in-line aero engines. They also featured refinements such as retractable undercarriages, fully enclosed cockpits, and low-drag, all-metal wings. These advances had been introduced on civil airliners years before, but were slow to be adopted by the military, who favoured the biplane's simplicity and manoeuvrability. [53]

Mitchell's design aims were to create a well-balanced, high-performance fighter aircraft capable of fully exploiting the power of the Merlin engine, while being relatively easy to fly. [54] At the time, with France as an ally, and Germany thought to be the most likely future opponent, no enemy fighters were expected to appear over Great Britain. German bombers would have to fly to the UK over the North Sea, and Germany did not have any single-engine fighters with the range to accompany them. To carry out the mission of home defence, the design was intended to allow the Spitfire to climb quickly to intercept enemy bombers. [55]

The Spitfire's airframe was complex. The streamlined, semi-monocoque, duralumin-skinned fuselage featured a number of compound, vertical curves built up from a skeleton of 19 formers, also known as frames, starting from frame number one, immediately behind the propeller unit, to the tail unit attachment frame. The first four frames supported the glycol header tank and engine cowlings. Frame five, to which the engine bearers were secured, supported the weight of the engine and its accessories. This was a strengthened double frame which also incorporated the fireproof bulkhead, and in later versions of the Spitfire, the oil tank. This frame also tied the four main fuselage longerons to the rest of the airframe. [56] Behind the bulkhead were five U-shaped half-frames which accommodated the fuel tanks and cockpit. The rear fuselage started at the 11th frame, to which the pilot's seat and (later) armour plating were attached, and ended at the 19th, which was mounted at a slight forward angle just forward of the fin. Each of these nine frames was oval, reducing in size towards the tail, and incorporated several lightening holes to reduce their weight as much as possible without weakening them. The U-shaped frame 20 was the last frame of the fuselage proper and the frame to which the tail unit was attached. Frames 21, 22 and 23 formed the fin frame 22 incorporated the tailwheel opening and frame 23 was the rudder post. Before being attached to the main fuselage, the tail unit frames were held in a jig and the eight horizontal tail formers were riveted to them. [57]

A combination of 14 longitudinal stringers and four main longerons attached to the frames helped form a light, but rigid structure to which sheets of alclad stressed skinning were attached. The fuselage plating was 24, 20, and 18 gauge in order of thickness towards the tail, while the fin structure was completed using short longerons from frames 20 to 23, before being covered in 22 gauge plating. [58]

The skins of the fuselage, wings, and tailplane were secured by dome-headed rivets, and in critical areas such as the wing forward of the main spar where an uninterrupted airflow was required, with flush rivets. From February 1943 flush riveting was used on the fuselage, affecting all Spitfire variants. [59] In some areas, such as at the rear of the wing and the lower tailplane skins, the top was riveted and the bottom fixed by brass screws which tapped into strips of spruce bolted to the lower ribs. The removable wing tips were made up of duralumin-skinned spruce formers. [60]

At first, the ailerons, elevators, and rudder were fabric-covered, but once combat experience showed that fabric-covered ailerons were impossible to use at high speeds a light alloy replaced the fabric, enhancing control throughout the speed range. [61]

Elliptical wing design Edit

In 1934, Mitchell and the design staff decided to use a semi-elliptical wing shape to solve two conflicting requirements the wing needed to be thin to avoid creating too much drag, but it had to be thick enough to house the retractable undercarriage, armament, and ammunition. An elliptical planform is the most efficient aerodynamic shape for an untwisted wing, leading to the lowest amount of induced drag. The ellipse was skewed so that the centre of pressure, which occurs at the quarter-chord position, aligned with the main spar, preventing the wings from twisting. Mitchell has sometimes been accused of copying the wing shape of the Günter brothers-designed Heinkel He 70, [62] which first flew in 1932, but as Beverley Shenstone, the aerodynamicist on Mitchell's team, explained: "Our wing was much thinner and had quite a different section to that of the Heinkel. In any case, it would have been simply asking for trouble to have copied a wing shape from an aircraft designed for an entirely different purpose." [63] [nb 7]

The elliptical wing was decided upon quite early on. Aerodynamically it was the best for our purpose because the induced drag caused in producing lift, was lowest when this shape was used: the ellipse was . theoretically a perfection . To reduce drag we wanted the lowest possible thickness-to-chord, consistent with the necessary strength. But near the root the wing had to be thick enough to accommodate the retracted undercarriages and the guns . Mitchell was an intensely practical man . The ellipse was simply the shape that allowed us the thinnest possible wing with room inside to carry the necessary structure and the things we wanted to cram in. And it looked nice.

The wing section used was from the NACA 2200 series, which had been adapted to create a thickness-to-chord ratio of 13% at the root, reducing to 9.4% at the tip. [65] A dihedral of 6° was adopted to give increased lateral stability. [54]

A wing feature that contributed greatly to its success was an innovative spar boom design, made up of five square tubes that fitted into each other. As the wing thinned out along its span, the tubes were progressively cut away in a similar fashion to a leaf spring two of these booms were linked together by an alloy web, creating a lightweight and very strong main spar. [66] The undercarriage legs were attached to pivot points built into the inner, rear section of the main spar, and retracted outwards and slightly backwards into wells in the non-load-carrying wing structure. The resultant narrow undercarriage track was considered an acceptable compromise as this reduced the bending loads on the main-spar during landing. [66]

Ahead of the spar, the thick-skinned leading edge of the wing formed a strong and rigid, D-shaped box, which took most of the wing loads. At the time the wing was designed, this D-shaped leading edge was intended to house steam condensers for the evaporative cooling system intended for the PV-XII. Constant problems with the evaporative system in the Goshawk led to the adoption of a cooling system which used 100% glycol. [nb 8] The radiators were housed in a new radiator-duct designed by Fredrick Meredith of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough, Hampshire. This used the cooling air to generate thrust, greatly reducing the net drag produced by the radiators. [67] In turn, the leading-edge structure lost its function as a condenser, but it was later adapted to house integral fuel tanks of various sizes [68] — a feature patented by Vickers-Supermarine in 1938. [69] The airflow through the main radiator was controlled by pneumatic exit flaps. In early marks of the Spitfire (Mk I to Mk VI), the single flap was operated manually using a lever to the left of the pilot's seat. When the two-stage Merlin was introduced in the Spitfire Mk IX, the radiators were split to make room for an intercooler radiator the radiator under the starboard wing was halved in size and the intercooler radiator housed alongside. Under the port wing, a new radiator fairing housed a square oil cooler alongside of the other half-radiator unit. The two radiator flaps were now operated automatically by a thermostat. [70]

Another wing feature was its washout. The trailing edge of the wing twisted slightly upward along its span, the angle of incidence decreasing from +2° at its root to -½° at its tip. [71] This caused the wing roots to stall before the tips, reducing tip-stall that could otherwise have resulted in a wing drop, often leading to a spin. As the wing roots started to stall, the separating air stream started to buffet (vibrate) the aircraft, warning the pilot, allowing even relatively inexperienced pilots to fly it to the limits of its performance. [72] This washout was first featured in the wing of the Type 224, and became a consistent feature in subsequent designs leading to the Spitfire. [73] The complex wing design, especially the precision required to manufacture the vital spar and leading-edge structures, caused some major delays in the production of the Spitfire at first. The problems increased when the work was put out to subcontractors, most of whom had never dealt with metal-structured, high-speed aircraft. By June 1939, most of these problems had been resolved, and production was no longer held up by a lack of wings. [74]

All the main flight controls were originally metal structures with fabric covering. [nb 9] Designers and pilots felt that having ailerons which required a degree of effort to move at high speed would avoid unintended aileron reversal, throwing the aircraft around and potentially pulling the wings off. Air combat was also felt to take place at relatively low speeds and high-speed manoeuvring would be physically impossible. Flight tests showed the fabric covering of the ailerons "ballooned" at high speeds, adversely affecting the aerodynamics. Replacing the fabric covering with light alloy dramatically improved the ailerons at high speed. [76] [77] During the Battle of Britain, pilots found the Spitfire's ailerons were far too heavy at high speeds, severely restricting lateral manoeuvres such as rolls and high-speed turns, which were still a feature of air-to-air combat. [78]

The Spitfire had detachable wing tips which were secured by two mounting points at the end of each main wing assembly. When the Spitfire took on a role as a high-altitude fighter (Marks VI and VII and some early Mk VIIIs), the standard wing tips were replaced by extended, "pointed" tips which increased the wingspan from 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m) to 40 ft 2 in (12.24 m). [79] The other wing-tip variation, used by several Spitfire variants, was the "clipped" wing the standard wing tips were replaced by wooden fairings which reduced the span by 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m). [80] The wing tips used spruce formers for most of the internal structure with a light alloy skin attached using brass screws. [81]

The light alloy split flaps at the trailing edge of the wing were also pneumatically operated via a finger lever on the instrument panel. [82] Only two positions were available fully up or fully down (85°). Flaps were normally lowered only during the final approach and for landing, and the pilot was to retract them before taxiing. [nb 10] [83]

The ellipse also served as the design basis for the Spitfire's fin and tailplane assembly, once again exploiting the shape's favourable aerodynamic characteristics. Both the elevators and rudder were shaped so that their centre of mass was shifted forward, reducing control-surface flutter. The longer noses and greater propeller-wash resulting from larger engines in later models necessitated increasingly larger vertical, and later, horizontal tail surfaces to compensate for the altered aerodynamics, culminating in those of the Mk 22/24 series, which were 25% larger in area than those of the Mk I. [84] [85]

Improved late wing designs Edit

As the Spitfire gained more power and was able to manoeuvre at higher speeds, the possibility that pilots would encounter aileron reversal increased, and the Supermarine design team set about redesigning the wings to counter this. The original wing design had a theoretical aileron reversal speed of 580 mph (930 km/h), [86] which was somewhat lower than that of some contemporary fighters. The Royal Aircraft Establishment noted that, at 400 mph (640 km/h) indicated airspeed, roughly 65% of aileron effectiveness was lost due to wing twist. [87]

The new wing of the Spitfire F Mk 21 and its successors was designed to help alleviate this problem. Its stiffness was increased by 47%, and a new aileron design using piano hinges and geared trim tabs meant the theoretical aileron reversal speed was increased to 825 mph (1,328 km/h). [86] [88] [89] Alongside the redesigned wing, Supermarine also experimented with the original wing, raising the leading edge by 1 inch (2.54 cm), with the hope of improving pilot view and reducing drag. This wing was tested on a modified F Mk 21, also called the F Mk 23, (sometimes referred to as "Valiant" rather than "Spitfire"). The increase in performance was minimal and this experiment was abandoned. [90]

Supermarine developed a new laminar-flow wing based on new aerofoil profiles developed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in the United States, with the objective of reducing drag and improving performance. These laminar-flow airfoils were the Supermarine 371-I used at the root and the 371-II used at the tip. [91] Supermarine estimated that the new wing could give an increase in speed of 55 mph (89 km/h) over the Spitfire Mk 21. [92] The new wing was initially fitted to a Spitfire Mk XIV. Later, a new fuselage was designed, with the new fighter becoming the Supermarine Spiteful. [93]

Carburetion versus fuel injection Edit

Early in its development, the Merlin engine's lack of fuel injection meant that Spitfires and Hurricanes, unlike the Bf 109E, were unable to simply nose down into a steep dive. This meant a Luftwaffe fighter could simply "bunt" into a high-power dive to escape an attack, leaving the Spitfire behind, as its fuel was forced out of the carburettor by negative "g". RAF fighter pilots soon learned to "half-roll" their aircraft before diving to pursue their opponents. [94] Sir Stanley Hooker explained that the carburettor was adopted because it "increased the performance of the supercharger and thereby increased the power of the engine". [95] [nb 11]

In March 1941, a metal disc with a hole was fitted in the fuel line, restricting fuel flow to the maximum the engine could consume. While it did not cure the problem of the initial fuel starvation in a dive, it did reduce the more serious problem of the carburettor being flooded with fuel by the fuel pumps under negative "g". Invented by Beatrice "Tilly" Shilling, it became known as "Miss Shilling's orifice". Further improvements were introduced throughout the Merlin series, with Bendix-manufactured pressure carburettors, designed to allow fuel to flow during all flight attitudes, introduced in 1942. [95]

Armament Edit

Due to a shortage of Brownings, which had been selected as the new standard rifle calibre machine gun for the RAF in 1934, early Spitfires were fitted with only four guns, with the other four fitted later. [97] Early tests showed that, while the guns worked perfectly on the ground and at low altitudes, they tended to freeze at high altitude, especially the outer wing guns, because the RAF's Brownings had been modified to fire from an open bolt. While this prevented overheating of the cordite used in British ammunition, it allowed cold air to flow through the barrel unhindered. [98] Supermarine did not fix the problem until October 1938, when they added hot air ducts from the rear of the wing-mounted radiators to the guns, and bulkheads around the gunbays to trap the hot air in the wing. Red fabric patches were doped over the gun ports to protect the guns from cold, dirt, and moisture until they were fired. [99]

The decision on the arming of the Spitfire (and the Hurricane) is told in Captain C. H. Keith's book I Hold my Aim. Keith held various appointments with the RAF dealing with designing, development and technical policy of armament equipment. He organised a conference, with Air Commodore Tedder in the chair, on 19 July 1934. He says "I think it can be reasonably contended that the deliberations of that conference made possible, if not certain, of the winning of the Battle of Britain, almost exactly six years later". [100] At that meeting, scientific officer Captain F. W. "Gunner" Hill presented charts based on his calculations showing that future fighters must carry no less than eight machine-guns, each of which must be capable of firing 1,000 shots a minute. Hill's assistant in making his calculations had been his teenage daughter. [101]

Even if the eight Brownings worked perfectly, pilots soon discovered that they were not sufficient to destroy larger aircraft. Combat reports showed that an average of 4,500 rounds were needed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. In November 1938, tests against armoured and unarmoured targets had already indicated that the introduction of a weapon with a calibre of at least 20 mm was urgently needed. [102] A variant on the Spitfire design with four 20 mm Oerlikon cannon had been tendered to specification F37/35, but the order for prototypes had gone to the Westland Whirlwind in January 1939. [103]

In June 1939, a Spitfire was fitted with a drum-fed Hispano in each wing, an installation that required large blisters on the wing to cover the 60-round drum. The cannon suffered frequent stoppages, mostly because the guns were mounted on their sides to fit as much of the magazine as possible within the wing. In January 1940, P/O George Proudman flew this prototype in combat, but the starboard gun stopped after firing a single round, while the port gun fired 30 rounds before seizing. [99] If one cannon seized, the recoil of the other threw the aircraft off aim.

Nevertheless, 30 more cannon-armed Spitfires were ordered for operational trials, and they were soon known as the Mk IB, to distinguish them from the Browning-armed Mk IA they were delivered to No. 19 Squadron beginning in June 1940. The Hispanos were found to be so unreliable that the squadron requested an exchange of its aircraft with the older Browning-armed aircraft of an operational training unit. By August, Supermarine had perfected a more reliable installation with an improved feed mechanism and four .303s in the outer wing panels. The modified fighters were then delivered to 19 Squadron. [99]

Service operations Edit

The operational history of the Spitfire with the RAF began with the first Mk Is K9789, which entered service with 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford on 4 August 1938. [31] [nb 12] The Spitfire achieved legendary status during the Battle of Britain, a reputation aided by the "Spitfire Fund" organised and run by Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister of Aircraft Production. [104]

In fact, the Hurricane outnumbered the Spitfire throughout the battle, and shouldered the burden of the defence against the Luftwaffe however, because of its higher performance, the overall attrition rate of the Spitfire squadrons was lower than that of the Hurricane units, and the Spitfire units had a higher victory-to-loss ratio. [105]

The key aim of Fighter Command was to stop the Luftwaffe's bombers in practice, whenever possible, the tactic was to use Spitfires to counter German escort fighters, by then based in northern France, particularly the Bf 109s, while the Hurricane squadrons attacked the bombers. [106]

Well-known Spitfire pilots included "Johnnie" Johnson—34 enemy aircraft (e/a) shot down [107] —who flew the Spitfire right through his operational career from late 1940 to 1945. Douglas Bader (20 e/a) and "Bob" Tuck (27 e/a) flew Spitfires and Hurricanes during the major air battles of 1940. Both were shot down and became prisoners of war, while flying Spitfires over France in 1941 and 1942. [108] Paddy Finucane (28–32 e/a) scored all his successes in the fighter before disappearing over the English Channel in July 1942. [109] Some notable Commonwealth pilots were George Beurling (31 1 ⁄ 3 e/a) from Canada, "Sailor" Malan (27 e/a) from South Africa, [110] New Zealanders Alan Deere (17 e/a) and C F Gray (27 e/a) [111] [112] and the Australian Hugo Armstrong (12 e/a). [113]

The Spitfire continued to play increasingly diverse roles throughout the Second World War and beyond, often in air forces other than the RAF. For example, the Spitfire became the first high-speed photo-reconnaissance aircraft to be operated by the RAF. Sometimes unarmed, they flew at high, medium, and low altitudes, often ranging far into enemy territory to closely observe the Axis powers and provide an almost continual flow of valuable intelligence information throughout the war.

In 1941 and 1942, PRU Spitfires provided the first photographs of the Freya and Würzburg radar systems, and in 1943, helped confirm that the Germans were building the V1 and V2 Vergeltungswaffen ("vengeance weapons") rockets by photographing Peenemünde, on the Baltic Sea coast of Germany. [114]

In the Mediterranean, the Spitfire blunted the heavy attacks on Malta by the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe, and from early 1943, helped pave the way for the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy. On 7 March 1942, 15 Mk Vs carrying 90-gallon fuel tanks under their bellies took off from HMS Eagle off the coast of Algeria on a 600-mile (970 km) flight to Malta. [115] Those Spitfire Vs were the first to see service outside Britain. [116]

The Spitfire also served on the Eastern Front with the Soviet Air Force (VVS). The first deliveries of the Spitfire Mk VB variant took place at the start of 1943, with the first batch of 35 aircraft delivered via sea to the city of Basra, Iraq. A total of 143 aircraft and 50 furnished hulls (to be used for spare parts) followed by March of the same year. Though some aircraft were used for front line duty in 1943, most of them saw service with the Protivo-Vozdushnaya Oborona (English: "Anti-air Defence Branch"). [117] In 1944, the USSR received the substantially improved Mk IX variant, with the first aircraft delivered in February. Initially, these were refurbished aircraft, but subsequent shipments were factory new. A total of 1,185 aircraft of this model were delivered through Iran, Iraq and the Arctic to northern Soviet ports. Two of these were the Spitfire HF Mk IX (high-altitude modification) while the remainder were the low-altitude LF Mk IX. The last Lend-Lease shipment carrying the Mk IX arrived at the port of Severodvinsk on 12 June 1945.

The Spitfire also served in the Pacific Theatre, meeting the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Lt. Gen. Claire Chennault said: "The RAF pilots were trained in methods that were excellent against German and Italian equipment, but suicide against the acrobatic Japs." [118] Although not as fast as the Spitfire, the Zero could out-turn the Spitfire, could sustain a climb at a very steep angle, and could stay in the air for three times as long. [119] To counter the Zero, Spitfire pilots adopted a "slash and run" policy and use their faster speed and diving superiority to fight, while avoiding turning dogfights. The Allies achieved air superiority when the Mk VIII version was introduced to the theatre, replacing the earlier Mk V. In one memorable encounter, New Zealand ace Alan Peart fought a solo dogfight against two dozen Japanese aircraft attacking the Broadway airstrip, shooting down one.

That Southeast Asia was a lower-priority area also did not help, and it was allocated few Spitfires and other modern fighters compared to Europe, which allowed the Japanese to easily achieve air superiority by 1942. [120] [121] [122] Over the Northern Territory of Australia, Royal Australian Air Force and RAF Spitfires assigned to No. 1 Wing RAAF helped defend the port town of Darwin against air attack by the Japanese Naval Air Force, [123] suffering heavy losses largely due to the type's limited fuel capacity. [124] Spitfire MKVIIIs took part in the last battle of World War II involving the Western allies in Burma, in the ground attack role, helping defeat a Japanese break-out attempt. [125]

During the Second World War, Spitfires were used by the United States Army Air Forces in the 4th Fighter Group until they were replaced by Republic P-47 Thunderbolts in March 1943. [126]

Several Spitfires were captured by the Germans and flown by units that tested, evaluated, and sometimes clandestinely operated enemy aircraft. [127]

Speed and altitude records Edit

Beginning in late 1943, high-speed diving trials were undertaken at Farnborough to investigate the handling characteristics of aircraft travelling at speeds near the sound barrier (i.e., the onset of compressibility effects). Because it had the highest limiting Mach number of any aircraft at that time, a Spitfire XI was chosen to take part in these trials. Due to the high altitudes necessary for these dives, a fully feathering Rotol propeller was fitted to prevent overspeeding. During these trials, EN409, flown by Squadron Leader J. R. Tobin, reached 606 mph (975 km/h) (Mach 0.891) in a 45° dive.

In April 1944, the same aircraft suffered engine failure in another dive while being flown by Squadron Leader Anthony F. Martindale, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, when the propeller and reduction gear broke off. The dive put the aircraft to Mach 0.92, the fastest ever recorded in a piston-engined aircraft, but when the propeller came off, the Spitfire, now tail-heavy, zoom-climbed back to altitude. Martindale blacked out under the 11 g loading, but when he resumed consciousness, he found the aircraft at about 40,000 feet with its (originally straight) wings now slightly swept back. [128] Martindale successfully glided the Spitfire 20 mi (32 km) back to the airfield and landed safely. [129] Martindale was awarded the Air Force Cross for his exploits. [130]

RAE Bedford (RAE) modified a Spitfire for high-speed testing of the stabilator (then known as the "flying tail") of the Miles M.52 supersonic research aircraft. RAE test pilot Eric Brown stated that he tested this successfully during October and November 1944, attaining Mach 0.86 in a dive. [131]

On 5 February 1952, a Spitfire 19 of 81 Squadron based at Kai Tak in Hong Kong reached probably the highest altitude ever achieved by a Spitfire. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Edward "Ted" Powles, [132] was on a routine flight to survey outside air temperature and report on other meteorological conditions at various altitudes in preparation for a proposed new air service through the area. He climbed to 50,000 ft (15,000 m) indicated altitude, with a true altitude of 51,550 ft (15,710 m). The cabin pressure fell below a safe level, and in trying to reduce altitude, he entered an uncontrollable dive which shook the aircraft violently. He eventually regained control somewhere below 3,000 ft (910 m) and landed safely with no discernible damage to his aircraft. Evaluation of the recorded flight data suggested he achieved a speed of 690 mph (1,110 km/h), (Mach 0.96) in the dive, which would have been the highest speed ever reached by a propeller-driven aircraft if the instruments had been considered more reliable. [129]

That any operational aircraft off the production line, cannons sprouting from its wings and warts and all, could readily be controlled at this speed when the early jet aircraft such as Meteors, Vampires, P-80s, etc, could not, was certainly extraordinary.

The critical Mach number of the Spitfire's original elliptical wing was higher than the subsequently used laminar-flow section, straight-tapering-planform wing of the follow-on Supermarine Spiteful, Seafang, and Attacker, illustrating that Reginald Mitchell's practical engineering approach to the problems of high-speed flight had paid off. [134]

Overview Edit

Although R. J. Mitchell is justifiably known as the engineer who designed the Spitfire, his premature death in 1937 meant that all development after that date was undertaken by a team led by his chief draughtsman, Joe Smith, who became Supermarine's chief designer on Mitchell's death. As Jeffrey Quill noted: "If Mitchell was born to design the Spitfire, Joe Smith was born to defend and develop it." [135]

There were 24 marks of Spitfire and many sub-variants. These covered the Spitfire in development from the Merlin to Griffon engines, the high-speed photo-reconnaissance variants and the different wing configurations. More Spitfire Mk Vs were built than any other type, with 6,487 built, followed by the 5,656 Mk IXs. [39] Different wings, featuring a variety of weapons, were fitted to most marks the A wing used eight .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns, the B wing had four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns and two 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano cannon, and the C, or universal, wing could mount either four 20 mm (.79 in) cannon or two 20 mm (.79 in) and four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. As the war progressed, the C wing became more common. [136] Another armament variation was the E wing which housed two 20 mm (.79 in) cannon and two .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns. [137] Although the Spitfire continued to improve in speed and armament, its limited fuel capacity restricted range and endurance: it remained "short-legged" throughout its life except in the dedicated photo-reconnaissance role, when its guns were replaced by extra fuel tanks. [138]

Supermarine developed a two-seat variant, known as the T Mk VIII, to be used for training, but none were ordered, and only one example was ever constructed (identified as N32/G-AIDN by Supermarine). [139] In the absence of an official two-seater variant, a number of airframes were crudely converted in the field. These included a 4 Squadron SAAF Mk VB in North Africa, where a second seat was fitted instead of the upper fuel tank in front of the cockpit, although it was not a dual-control aircraft, and is thought to have been used as the squadron "run-about". [140] The only unofficial two-seat conversions that were fitted with dual-controls were a few Russian lend/lease Mk IX aircraft. These were referred to as Mk IX UTI and differed from the Supermarine proposals by using an inline "greenhouse" style double canopy rather than the raised "bubble" type of the T Mk VIII. [140]

In the postwar era, the idea was revived by Supermarine and a number of two-seat Spitfires were built by converting old Mk IX airframes with a second "raised" cockpit featuring a bubble canopy. Ten of these TR9 variants were then sold to the Indian Air Force along with six to the Irish Air Corps, three to the Royal Netherlands Air Force and one for the Royal Egyptian Air Force. [139] Currently several of the trainers are known to exist, including both the T Mk VIII, a T Mk IX based in the US, and the "Grace Spitfire" ML407, a veteran flown operationally by 485(NZ) Squadron in 1944. [141] [nb 13]

Seafire Edit

The Seafire, a name derived from sea, and Spitfire, was a naval version of the Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. Although the Spitfire was not designed for the rough-and-tumble of carrier-deck operations, it was considered the best available fighter at the time. The basic Spitfire design did impose some limitations on the use of the aircraft as a carrier-based fighter poor visibility over the nose, for example, meant that pilots had to be trained to land with their heads out of the cockpit and looking along the port cowling of their Seafire. [142] Like the Spitfire, the Seafire also had a relatively narrow undercarriage track, which meant that it was not ideally suited to deck operations. [143] Early Seafire marks had relatively few modifications to the standard Spitfire airframe however cumulative front line experience meant that most of the later versions of the Seafire had strengthened airframes, folding wings, arrestor hooks and other modifications, culminating in the purpose-built Seafire F/FR Mk 47. [144]

The Seafire II was able to outperform the A6M5 Zero at low altitudes when the two types were tested against each other during wartime mock combat exercises. [145] However, contemporary Allied carrier fighters such as the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair were considerably more robust and so more practical for carrier operations. [146] Performance was greatly increased when later versions of the Seafire were fitted with the Griffon engines. These were too late to see service in World War II. [147]

Griffon-engined variants Edit

The first Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined Mk XII flew in August 1942, and first flew operationally with 41 Squadron in April 1943. This mark could nudge 400 mph (640 km/h) in level flight and climb to an altitude of 33,000 ft (10,000 m) in under nine minutes. [148]

As American fighters took over the long-range escorting of United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) daylight bombing raids, the Griffon-engined Spitfires progressively took up the tactical air superiority role, and played a major role in intercepting V-1 flying bombs, while the Merlin-engined variants (mainly the Mk IX and the Packard-engined Mk XVI) were adapted to the fighter-bomber role. [149] Although the later Griffon-engined marks lost some of the favourable handling characteristics of their Merlin-powered predecessors, they could still outmanoeuvre their main German foes and other, later American and British-designed fighters. [138]

The final version of the Spitfire, the Mk 24, first flew at South Marston on 13 April 1946. On 20 February 1948, almost twelve years from the prototype's first flight, the last production Spitfire, VN496, left the production line. Spitfire Mk 24s were used by only one regular RAF unit, with 80 Squadron replacing their Hawker Tempests with F Mk 24s in 1947. [150] With these aircraft, 80 Squadron continued its patrol and reconnaissance duties from Wunstorf in Germany as part of the occupation forces, until it relocated to Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong in July 1949. During the Chinese Civil War, 80 Squadron's main duty was to defend Hong Kong from perceived Communist threats. [151]

Operation Firedog during the Malayan Emergency saw the Spitfire fly over 1,800 operational sorties against the Malayan Communists. [152] The last operational sortie of an RAF Spitfire was flown on 1 April 1954, by PS888 a PR Mk 19 Spitfire of 81 Squadron.It was flying from RAF Seletar, in Singapore to photograph an area of jungle in Johore, Malaysia, thought to contain Communist guerrillas. To mark the special occasion, ground crewmen had painted 'The Last' on the aircraft's nose. [153]

The last non-operational flight of a Spitfire in RAF service, which took place on 9 June 1957, was by a PR Mk 19, PS583, from RAF Woodvale of the Temperature and Humidity Flight. This was also the last known flight of a piston-engined fighter in the RAF. [154] The last nation in the Middle East to operate Spitfires was Syria, which kept its F 22s until 1953. [152]

In late 1962, Air Marshal Sir John Nicholls instigated a trial when he flew Spitfire PM631, a PR Mk 19 in the custody of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, against an English Electric Lightning F 3 (a supersonic jet-engined interceptor) in mock combat at RAF Binbrook. At the time, British Commonwealth forces were involved in possible action against Indonesia over Malaya and Nicholls decided to develop tactics to fight the Indonesian Air Force P-51 Mustang, a fighter that had a similar performance to the PR Mk 19. [155] The first airframe (PM631) developed mechanical issues which removed it from the trial. Another PR Mk 19, PS853, which is now owned by Rolls-Royce, was on gate-guard duties at Binbrook, having been retired from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) one year before. It had been maintained in running condition by ground crews at Binbrook, and after a short time was participating in the trials. At the end of the trials, RAF pilots found that Firestreak infra-red guided missiles had trouble acquiring the Spitfire due to a low exhaust temperature, and decided that the twin ADEN 30 mm (1.2 in) cannons were the only weapons suited to the task, which was complicated by the tight turning circle of the Spitfire, and the Lightning's proclivity for over-running the Spitfire. It was concluded that the most effective and safest way for a modern jet-engined fighter to attack a piston-engined fighter was to engage full afterburner at an altitude lower than the Spitfire, and circle behind it to perform a hit-and-run attack, contrary to all established fighter-on-fighter doctrine at that time. [156] [157]

  • Argentina (Three,1 civilian, 2 for Air Force testing)
  • Australia[158][159]
  • Belgium
  • Burma
  • Canada
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Free France
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong[160]
  • India
  • Indian Empire
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Kingdom of Italy
  • Italy (Italian Republic)
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Southern Rhodesia
  • South Africa
  • Soviet Union
  • Sweden
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Yugoslavia

There are 54 Spitfires and a few Seafires in airworthy condition worldwide, although many air museums have examples on static display, for example, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has paired a static Spitfire with a static Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Stuka dive bomber. [nb 14] [162]

The oldest surviving Spitfire is a Mark 1, serial number K9942 it is preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in Shropshire. This aircraft was the 155th built and first flew in April 1939. It flew operationally with No. 72 Squadron RAF until June 1940, when it was damaged in a wheels-up landing. After repair, it was used for training until August 1944, when it became one of several Battle of Britain aircraft veterans that were allocated to the Air Historical Branch for future museum preservation. [163]

What may be the most originally restored Spitfire in the world is maintained at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. Over a six-year period in the 1990s, this aircraft was slowly restored by Personal Plane Services in England using almost 90% of its original aircraft skins. Owner Kermit Weeks insisted that the aircraft be restored as closely as possible to its original condition. Machine guns, cannon, gun sight and original working radios are all installed. [164]

Two MK 1 Supermarine Spitfires, originally restored by the Aircraft Restoration Company, remain in flying condition at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, England. Both restored by American billionaire Thomas Kaplan, one has been donated to the Imperial War Museum and the second was auctioned in July 2015 at Christie's, London. It is one of only four flying MK 1 Spitfires in the world. The aircraft fetched a record £3.1 million at auction on 9 July, beating the previous record for a Spitfire of £1.7 million set in 2009. [165]

One Spitfire is kept in airworthy condition in the Israeli Air Force Museum.

Search for reported surviving Spitfires in Burma Edit

After hostilities ceased in Asia in 1945, a number of Spitfire Mk.XIVs were reportedly buried, after being greased, tarred and prepared for long-term storage, in crates in Burma.

Excavations carried out at Yangon International Airport (formerly RAF Mingaladon) in early 2013 failed to locate any of the rumoured aircraft, [166] [167] and the team reported that they found no evidence that Spitfires were shipped there in crates or buried. [168] Pat Woodward, who was an RAF pilot operating from Burma at the end of the war, reported that no such burying took place. [169] In 2016 it was reported that the hunt was continuing. [170]

  • A replica of the Mark VB Spitfire W3644 was officially unveiled on 19 August 2012 at Fairhaven Lake, Lancashire, FY8 1BD. The original aircraft was purchased by the people of the Lytham St Annes in 1940. The pilot of the Spitfire Sgt Alan Lever-Ridings was shot down by a Fw 190 whilst returning from escort duty during a bombing mission over Morlaix, France 23 June 1942.
  • A fibreglass replica of the Mk.1 Spitfire Mk1 YT-J (R6675), flown by Supermarine test pilot Jeffrey Quill during his brief period of active service with 65 Squadron, is on display at the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-le-Ferne near Folkestone, along with a replica Mk.1 Hurricane representing US-X, in which Pilot Officer Geoffrey Page was shot down on 12 August 1940. [171]
  • Sentinel is a sculpture by Tim Tolkien depicting three Spitfires in flight at the roundabout junction (popularly known as Spitfire Island) of the A47 and A452 in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, England, commemorating the main Spitfire factory. The island sits at the adjoining southern corners of the former Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory and Aerodrome (now Castle Vale housing estate). [172] There is also a Spitfire and a Hurricane in the nearby Thinktank Science Museum. [173]
  • A sculpture of the prototype Spitfire, K5054 stands on the roundabout at the entrance to Southampton International Airport, which, as Eastleigh Aerodrome, saw the first flight of the aircraft in March 1936.
  • Jeffrey Quill, the former Supermarine test pilot, initiated a project to build an exact replica of K5054, the prototype Spitfire to be put on permanent public display as a memorial to R.J. Mitchell. A team of original Supermarine designers worked with Aerofab Restorations of Andover for 10 years to create the facsimile. It was unveiled to the public in April 1993 by Quill at the RAF Museum, Hendon, and is currently on loan to the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum. [174]
  • A fibreglass replica in the colours of a Polish squadron leader based at the station during the Second World War is on display at RAF Northolt, the last Battle of Britain Sector Station still in RAF operational service.
  • A replica Spitfire is on display on the Thornaby Road roundabout near the school named after Sir Douglas Bader who flew a Spitfire in the Second World War. This memorial is in memory of the old RAF base in Thornaby which is now a residential estate.
  • A fibreglass replica of a Spitfire Mk XVI has been mounted on a pylon in Memorial Park, Hamilton, New Zealand as a tribute to all New Zealand fighter pilots who flew Spitfires during the Second World War.
  • A fibreglass replica of a Mk XVI spitfire sits on a pylon next to Memorial Avenue at Christchurch Airport, New Zealand. It was moved to its current location in 2015 from the previous position at the entrance to the airport where it had been for 50 years. The replica was apparently used as a static display in Reach for the Sky.
  • At Bentley Priory, the Second World War command centre for Fighter Command, fibreglass replicas of a Spitfire Mk 1 and a Hurricane Mk 1 can be seen fixed in a position of attack. This was built as a memorial to everyone who worked at Bentley Priory during the war.
  • A fibreglass replica in the colours of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Spitfire Memorial sits next to the Edinburgh Airport control tower. This model replaced the original gate guardian from the former RAF Turnhouse. It is painted to represent serial number L1067 (code XT-D) "Blue Peter", the personal aircraft of the squadron's commander, Squadron Leader George Denholm DFC.
  • A fibreglass replica of a Spitfire Mk IX has been mounted on a pylon in Jackson Park, Windsor, Ontario alongside a Hurricane as a memorial to Royal Canadian Air Force pilots. This display replaces an Avro Lancaster bomber that had previously been on display and is currently undergoing restoration.
  • One of the few remaining Supermarine Spitfires with a wartime record is on display (alongside a Hawker Hurricane) at the RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum, near Kent International Airport. [175]
  • Lodge Hill Garage, Abingdon, Oxfordshire has a full-size replica Spitfire as its own rooftop monument. Owner Peter Jewson bought the replica in a campaign to build the first ever national memorial to honour the 166 women from the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) who flew Spitfires and other aircraft from factories to their operational airbases 14 died during these ferry flights. [176]
  • A fibreglass replica of a Spitfire Mk IX is mounted to the roof of the speciality shop, Spitfire Emporium, in Kitchener, Ontario. [177]
  • There is a replica of a Spitfire (and of a Hurricane) at the entrance to the Eden Camp Modern History Museum as a memorial to pilots who served in the Battle of Britain. [178] has a full-size replica Spitfire MkVb LO-D (EP121) on display as a memorial to the men and women who served at RFC/RAF Montrose.
  • A fibreglass replica of Spitfire VB BL924 is on display at Beale Park. It was built as a tribute to Aksel [Axel] Andreas Svendsen, a young Danish RAF pilot who was killed in action on 24 April 1942.
  • A 1:1 scale resin replica of an Airfix Spitfire model kit was produced for James May's Toy Stories, season 1, episode 1, 2009, at RAF Cosford and left there as a museum item.
  • A scale replica is on display at the Returned Services League (RSL) Club in Bendigo, Victoria.

British company Historic Flying Limited has either restored or built from scratch a significant proportion of the Spitfires that are now airworthy.

Several other manufacturers have produced replica Spitfires, either as complete aircraft or as kits for self-building. These range in scale from 60% scale to full-size, and most use wooden construction rather than the original all-metal monocoque design. These include the Jurca Spit from France, and those manufactured by Tally Ho Enterprises in Canada. [179] Supermarine Aircraft – originally from Brisbane, Australia, and now based in Cisco, Texas – manufacture the 80% scale Spitfire Mk26 and the 90% scale Mk26B replicas. Their Supermarine Aircraft Spitfire is supplied in kit form and is the only all-aluminium reproduction Spitfire in production. [180] The Isaacs Spitfire (1975) [181] and the Time Warp Spitfire Mk V (1996) are homebuilt 60% scale replicas, and Bob DeFord of Prescott, Arizona built and flies a 100% scale replica. [182]

Greenwood Military Aviation Museum is also home to a replica non-flying Spitfire.

During and after the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire became a symbol of British resistance: for example, Lord Beaverbrook's "Spitfire Fund" of 1940 was one campaign which drew widespread public attention to the Spitfire. The Spitfire continues to be highly popular at airshows, on airfields and in museums worldwide, and holds an important place in the memories of many people, especially the few still living who flew the Spitfire in combat. Numerous films and documentaries featuring the Spitfire are still being produced, some of which are listed in this section.

  • The First of the Few (also known as Spitfire in the US and Canada) (1942) is a British film produced and directed by Leslie Howard, with Howard in the starring role of R. J. Mitchell, and David Niven playing a composite character based on the Schneider Trophy pilots of 1927, 1929 and 1931, and the Supermarine test pilot Jeffrey Quill. Some of the footage includes film shot in 1941 of operational Spitfires and pilots of 501 Squadron (code letters SD). Howard spent a long time researching the history of the Spitfire's development for the film Mrs. Mitchell and her son Gordon were on the set during much of the production. [183] The aerobatic flying sequences featured in the last 15 minutes of the film were made by Jeffrey Quill in early November 1941, flying a Spitfire Mk II mocked up to represent the prototype.
  • Malta Story (1953), starring Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Steel and Muriel Pavlow, is a black and whitewar film telling the story of the defence of Malta in 1942 when Spitfires were the island's main defence from air attacks. [184]
  • Reach for the Sky (1956) starring Kenneth More tells the story of Douglas Bader, using contemporary Spitfire aircraft in the production. [185]
  • Battle of Britain (1969) directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Ralph Richardson, Michael Redgrave and Susannah York, is set in 1940. Features several sequences involving a total of 12 flying Spitfires (mostly Mk IX versions because not many Mk.Is were available at the time), [186] as well as a number of other flying examples of Second World War-era British and German aircraft.
  • Piece of Cake (1987) starring Tom Burlinson, aired on the ITV network in 1987. Based on the novel by Derek Robinson, the six-part miniseries covers the prewar era to "Battle of Britain Day", 15 September 1940. It depicts air combat over the skies of France and Britain during the early stages of the Second World War, though using five flying examples of late model Spitfires in place of the novel's early model Hurricanes. [187]
  • Dark Blue World (2001), starring Ondřej Vetchý, is a tale of two Czech pilots who escape Nazi-occupied Europe to fly Spitfires during the Battle of Britain. Jan Svěrák filmed some new aerial scenes and reused aerial footage from Hamilton's film. [188]
  • Guy Martin's Spitfire (2014) is a Channel 4 documentary covering the two-year restoration of a Mark 1 Spitfire, N3200, coded 'QV', that had been buried beneath the sand for 46 years after crash landing during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. Guy Martin tells the Boy's Own-style story of its pilot, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson and helps in the restoration of the aircraft. [189]
  • Dunkirk (2017), directed by Christopher Nolan, features three Spitfires defending the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk against attacks by the German Luftwaffe. [190]
  • Spitfire: The People's Plane (2020) is a BBC World Service ten-part podcast on the efforts of the people who built the aircraft. [191]

The Spitfire's performance improved greatly as WWII progressed for more information, see Supermarine Spitfire variants: specifications, performance and armament.

Data from Spitfire: The History and Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. [192] [193]

Supermarine Seafire Mk.47 - History

Seafire FR.47 Tamiya 1/32 part-3

The post war FAA scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Sky seems to be unified. But it's not unified in detail. There are many variations of the demarcation line between EDSG and Sky or the area of the anti-glare. There are also two type of the walk way line. My model is in the minority. The majority is closer to the wheel blister. Be careful that most of the color profiles of existing references are incorrect. Why are there many variations? I guess that early production of Mk.47 were painted in mid-war scheme (EDSG / Dark Slate Grey / Sky) at the factory and were repainted later.

The size of the fuselage roundel is 30 inches. The wing roundel is 36 inches. Each width of the identification band of the Korean War scheme is 12 inches. The fuselage serial number is 4 inches high and the lower wing is 32 inches.

The gear legs and inside of the gear covers are painted Sky, and the wheel hubs are silver. These are clear in the original color photo of "Korean Air War, Motorbooks International". The inside of wheel cover is unknown, so I guess it may be the same as the gear cover. The gear bay and inside of the flap are unknown as well.

My model is aircraft number 180 P with Black / White bands of 800th Squadron. However, there are different serial numbers of 180 P. VP492 is written on the fuselage in the photo of "War Paint vol.20", but the lower wing serial can be read as VP433 in the same photo. This aircraft doesn't have painted B/W bands. VP480 is in another photo of certain web site. This aircraft has B/W bands. I think there are two aircraft which have the aircraft number 180 P for some sort of reason.

Sky was a mixture of Mr. Color #20 Duck Egg Green with 25% #126 IJA Green Grey. EDSG was #333 EDSG with a small quantity of Sea Blue. Roundel Red was #327 Thunderbird Red. Roundel Blue was #322 Blue Impulse Blue.

Metal primer was sprayed on the aluminum frame. Then Mr.Surfacer 1200 was sprayed and the surface was polished with Mr. Laplos #6000.

The first step of painting was Sky. Sky and other markings were painted "side by side" (except for EDSG).

Masking for EDSG is finished.

Masking for Silver is finished.

EDSG is painted.

Masking tape was removed. The surface was polished again. The portions for B/W bands were unpainted.

Detail parts were painted as well. Yellow and Black were painted side by side.

This masking was for Blue. Kitchen wrap covered wide areas.

Roundel Blue is finished.

The position of the aileron blister was corrected.

These are masking for White.

White was finished. These are masking for Night.

Masking sheet for the wing serial number is cut with the cutting machine.

Red was the last color painted.

Painting is finished!

The demarcation line of EDSG and Sky is corrected.

This photo is "before correction".

After painting was finished, clear paint was sprayed. Then the surface was polished with Mr. Laplos #6000 again.

The aircraft number and serial on the fuselage plus caution stencils were custom made dry decals by Maxlabo. The font of FAA stencil is different than RAF. I depicted this font from original photos. After applying dry decals, clear paint was sprayed for fixing. And the surface was polished again.

These letters are dry decals as well.

Caution stencils are dry decals.

Markings of the propeller blade are kit decals.

Details and the final assembly

The late type seat belt was made of photo etching buckles and lead sheet.

I selected this 1/48 Hurricane etching set. Why 1/48??

The gunsight was Barracuda Studio's resin part for P-51. The rear end was modified a little then kit photo-etch was added.

The wire protector, hold back and pitot tube were made with brass pipes & rod.

I mistook the shape and size of the hold back. The right is old one and the left is correct.

The landing gear is glued to the wing. The track of Super Spitfire is wider than the normal Spitfire.

The wheel cover linkage was scratch-built. The oil actuator was lathed styrene rod. The link rod was made of 0.5mm (0.02") brass rod and 0.7mm (0.03") brass pipe.

The block tread tire was not released from Barracuda Studio at this time. So, I scratch-built using chemical wood. Judging from the fact that Mk.47's wheel blister was enlarged, the tire width might be increased a little.

Chemical wood was sanded with rotary tool.

Then crosswise lines were engraved with the razor saw and my handmade jig.

Lengthwise lines were engraved with the handmade chisel. The chisel consisted of two small bits made of brass rod to equalize the pitch of lengthwise lines.

The wheel hub was cut from Barracuda Studio's resin cast part.

The final work was the rocket launcher. It was made of styrene sheet. The hook of the front launcher was made from aluminum sheet.

After 12 months of construction works, the LAST of Seafire's is rolled out. Though some detail work is insufficient, I'm very satisfied with the reproducibility of outline image as I shown from my original drawings. I'm very happy if my drawings help odelers who build Griffon Seafires, and also manufacturers or publishers.

Once more, I wonder how long the Spitfire remained in the front line. Spitfire Mk.I of 19 Sqn appeared in 1938, and Seafire Mk.47 of 800 NAS joined Korean War in 1950. I don't know if another reciprocating engine fighter had such a long life.

The first one is the same as my model. FR.47 VP480 of 800 NAS of HMS Triumph, in the Sea of Japan, in 1950. This aircraft wear 18" Night / White identification bands.

The second one is 804 NAS of HMS Ocean, in Mediterranean Sea, in 1949. Note the differences of the demarcation line for EDSG and Sky. The wing filet is painted EDSG. There are many variations of the EDSG demarcation line as for Mk.47 in addition to these two profiles. The fuselage roundel is 36".

The following two profiles are Mk.46.The Mk.46 was not used for front line squadron but delivered to Reserve units. There seemed to be two types of upper camouflage schemes. Note the demarcation line on the nose cowl. It doesn't match to the panel line. The first one is FR.Mk.46 LA555 of 1832 NAS.

Tne next is F.Mk.46 LA546 of Lossiemouth Station Flight of the FAA. The upper wing roundel may be 56" C type. Mk.46 doesn't equip the hold back. And the position of the tail navigation light is different from Mk.47.

  • The outline shape was traced from photos of existing actual aircraft.
  • Locations of camera windows and access hutches of FR model are same as FR.47.
  • The outline shape of nose cowl is identical for Mk.XII. But the number and location of cowl fasteners are different.
  • The diameter of propeller is 10'5".
  • The gear cover shape is different from other models. The upper portion covering the gear leg is wide.
  • The windshield and slide canopy are identical for early production of Mk.47.
  • Panel lines and rivet lines of the upper wing and lower outside wing were clearly seen in photos of existing actual aircraft but lower inside wing was not clear.
  • The elevator is covered with metal skin.
  • The width of the lower cowl panel is wider than long nose Griffon models.

The side view drawings of PR.XIX

  • The port side drawing shows model 390 equipping pressurized cockpit. The starboard shows un-pressurized model 389.
  • The windshield and canopy of model 389 is identical to Merlin PR.XI.
  • Grey portions show flat surfaces. The windshield of model 389 has the flat spot at the front. On the other hand, the side portion is flat at model 390.

Special Hobby released new tool 1/48 kits. In order to prepair for construction, I made original drawings. I didn't use existing drawing. The outline shape, panel lines and rivet lines are traced from photos of actual aircraft.

  • The fuselage length is 37ft7" (Mk.1/2), 38ft9" (Mk.4/5) from "In Action".
  • The cross section shape is traced form photos of actual aircraft.
  • The ladder hinge line and ladder ribs are lean 2 degrees from fuselage reference line.
  • I couldn't find any data of the airfoil, wing thickness ratio, angle of incidence and wash out.
  • So these data of my drawings are presumed from photos.

Kit review of Special Hobby 1/48 Firefly

This kit is incorrect as far as outline is concerned. The side view and plan view are good but cross section shape of the fuselage and wing are incorrect. See following figure. The blue line is actual aircraft and the red line is the kit.

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The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. However the Seafire MK47 has a distinctive double three-bladed prop instead of a single 4 bladed.


FEATURES: Realistic flat bottom airfoil, realistic elevators, realistic gears, and a cool cockpit!

Special Hobby (ex-MPM) 1/72 Supermarine Seafire Mk.47 (2000)

Dec 22, 2014 #1 2014-12-22T22:54

From The Stash and Special Hobby, my FAA theme continues. This is very similar in layout to the Sword.
Because I have the option of an open cockpit, I decided to go for this and to add some Eduard seatbelts I had to hand.

As an aside, whilst the abundance of stray cat hairs in my photos confirms that I share space with cats, this confirms it

I'll be needing a new piece of card for my backgrounds!Anyway, having dry-fitted the cockpit, I found that the fuselage halves would not join up AND accommodate the innards. Although this is allegedly a 'short-run' kit, it does have rather nice locating pins and holes and joining the fuselage was okay. Of course, I then had to file away some of the sides of the instrument panel, in order to get it to fit without splitting the fuselage.

Dec 22, 2014 #2 2014-12-22T22:56

As with the Sword kit, you get nice pieces for the u/c bays

Again, as with the Sword kit, those nicely moulded pieces interfere badly with the fit of the wing halves

Having made the wing sub-assembly, the wing-fuselage fit was very, very tight

Dec 22, 2014 #3 2014-12-22T23:00

Because Special Hobby have engineered the kit to enable different marks to be made from the same basic kit, some bits need to be added to the nose

Those fine gaps were filled with liquid superglue, which was then accelerated with Zipkicker.

Some life added to the tail

There was a piece behind the pilot that the Carpet Monster ate, so I had to improvise

Dec 28, 2014 #4 2014-12-28T22:46

The rest of the build was wholly problem-free, so I soon came to the painting stage. At first, I was tempted by an example flown to shoot at North Koreans, in black and white stripes.
Then I saw the earlier dark sea gre y version and decided that it looked smart and was less of a cliché.
H123 over H90 it will be

Dec 28, 2014 #5 2014-12-28T22:52

Special Hobby 1/72 Supermarine Seafire FR.47, No.804 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Ocean, November 1948

Supermarine Seafire FR Mk 47

The Seafire FR Mk 47 represents the end of the line for the Spitfire / Seafire. It was now the jet age and despite advances in powerplant and airframes this was the last variant to see service. This aircraft has everything, from its contra rotating prop, extra fuel tanks, bombload and rocket assisted take-off. See the description below for more about this historic aircraft.
Each handmade limited edition model comes with a history of the aircraft, and a numbered certificate signed by the sculptor.

Scale 1:72 Wingspan 6.14″ (156 mm)
Base size 6.37″ (162 mm) square (No. 4)
Weight not including base 8.75 ozs (245 grams)
Limited edition of 50 only


This limited edition model is only available handmade to order.
Delivery is approximately 6 weeks from placement of order.

Supermarine Seafire FR Mk 47 VP461 178/P 800 Naval Air Squadron
HMS Triumph off North Korea, August 1950

The Seafire FR Mk 47 was the last combat variant of the classic R J Mitchell / J Smith fighter, with very little remaining of the Supermarine Type 300 of 1936 the characteristic elliptical wing had been considerably modified and the Griffon engine with a six-bladed contra-rotating propeller had replaced the Merlin. The contrast from the Spitfire Mk I was vast, the Seafire FR Mk 47 had twice as much power, a speed increase from 355mph (571km/h) to 451mph (726km/h), an increase in weight from 5,280lb (2,400Kg) to 10,300lb (4,682Kg) and a threefold increase in firepower.
Seafire Fr Mk 47 VP461 was built at Supermarine’s South Marston works, and taken on charge by the Navy in April 1948. 800 Naval Air Squadron formed as part of the 13th Carrier Air Group on HMS Triumph in April 1949, and later that year it operated in Far Eastern waters flying strikes with Fireflies and 800’s Seafires while shore-based at Sembawang as part of the Malayan emergency. Remaining in the Far East the carrier started on a tour to Australia and Japan in April 1950, and was en route to Hong Kong when the Korean War broke out. Triumph returned to Japan to join the United States Navy Seventh Fleet at Okinawa, and 800’s Seafires carried out their first strike, on Haeju airfield, on 3 July. The squadron continued carrying out combat air patrols over the fleet, ground strikes with rockets and bombs – as shown on the model – until relieved by HMS Ocean at the end of September. RATOG (Rocket Assisted Take Off Gear) was fitted to get the Seafire airbourne. The black and white markings, reminiscent of the “D-Day stripes”, were added after one of 800’s Seafires had been fired on by a USAF B-29 at the end of July, the aircraft looking too much like the North Korean Yak-9, and similar markings were to be worn by Royal Naval aircraft for the remainder of the Korean conflict. On the return to the UK, the Seafires were given up 800 had been the last Seafire squadron, and were to re-equip with its descendant the Supermarine Attacker.

The Unofficial Airfix Modellers' Forum

Supermarine Seafire Mk 47 1/72 Rareplane vacform

Post by vacant » April 29th, 2019, 5:10 pm

This one was given to me. There was no canopy or instructions, but the build was a fairly straightforward once I had sorted out the way in which the wings folded on the Mk 47, which is different to that on earlier variants of the Seafire. I understand from another web site that the yellow and red stripes were added for identification as part of a war games exercise. All the markings were cobbled together from odds and ends. I left it clean, not even adding exhaust staining. I just like it the way it is.

Re: Supermarine Seafire Mk 47 1/72 Rareplane vacform

Post by ShaunW » April 29th, 2019, 5:18 pm

Doing - Tamiya 1/35th Panther Ausf.G with steel wheels.

Work is the curse of the modelling classes!

Re: Supermarine Seafire Mk 47 1/72 Rareplane vacform

Post by dwomby » April 29th, 2019, 5:47 pm

Sweet. Rareplanes made some truly excellent vacforms. I like your choice of markings.

The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon-powered, including the Seafire) - A Complete Guide To The Famous Fighter, by Richard A. Franks (Airframe & Miniature 13, Valiant Wings 2019)

V aliant Wings Publishing’s 13th title in the well-established Airframe & Miniature series is “The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon-powered, including the Seafire) - A Complete Guide To The Famous Fighter” by Richard A. Franks.

The Spitfire is one of the most popular aircraft modelling subjects around. This latest book goes some way towards unpicking the bewildering choices of variants and schemes that apply to the Griffon-powered versions.

As early as 1939 investigations were undertaken for using the new Rolls Royce 37 or Griffon engine (1720HP), replacing the Merlin (then only 1030HP). Richard A. Franks guides us all the way to the fascinating trip of this remarkable transformation!

The 13th book in the much-acclaimed “Airframe & Miniature” series contains 272 pages, packed with vital information that no active modeller and Spitfire enthusiast should be without.

  • 40+ pages of technical information
  • 30+ pages of walk-around images and technical diagrams
  • 33+ pages of camouflage and markings
  • 40+ pages of model builds and modelling information
  • 300+ photographs including wartime images
  • Colour side views and four-views by Richard J. Caruana
  • 85+ 3D isometric views of all variants by Juraj Jankovic
  • Specially commissioned extensive full kit builds by Libor Jekl & Steve A. Evans
  • Specially commissioned front cover artwork by Jerry Boucher
  • A bonus set of 1/48 scale plans (8 page foldout) by Richard J. Caruana

The book is sewn bound on glossy paper, with hundreds of photographs, diagrams and profiles, the modern pictures being in colour, while the contemporary content is black and white. It is written by Richard A Franks, with profiles by Richard J. Caruana, and models by a group of fine modellers.

Volume 2 deals with the later Griffon engine variants, from the Mk XII up to the Seafire, FR Mk 47 & Spiteful/Seafang, with everything in between. The pages are broken down into the Airframe section that deals with the real aircraft, and the Miniature section that covers the scale models and has a number of builds, plus a host of photographic detail that will be of great help to the modeller.

The breakdown of Contents is as follows:

Airframe Chapters

1. Evolution - Mk.XII to Mk 24

2. Evolution – Seafire Mk XV to FR Mk 47

4. Camouflage & Markings and Colour Profiles

Miniature Chapters

5. Spitfire & Seafire (Griffon-powered) Kits

8. In Detail: The Supermarine Spitfire & Seafire

Oil, Fuel, Coolant, Oxygen, Hydraulic

Armament, Ordnance & Drop Tanks

II. Accessories and Mask List

1:48 Scale plans fold-out (equivalent to 8 pages)

The scale plans are nicely thought out, and fold out sideways with the left-hand edge captive to the inside cover, and with detailed drawings that pick out the differences & details between variants and sub-variants.

The Preface is a useful summary of the history of the Griffon-powered variants in RAF/RN and foreign service, including many interesting black & white action photographs, with many more in the following first three chapters: 1, 2 & 3 (evolution through all the marks).

Chapter 4 (camouflage & markings) is this time built around the many excellent color profiles by R. Caruana, so text is less and profiles are more – linked to a detailed narrative. By browsing these pages is impossible not to think about starting a model right now – but more about this in the following chapters…

Chapter 5 (24 pages) has a look through all the Spitfire kits that you can find in most popular scales and gives the author’s assessment of them, with photos of the box art and contents.

In Chapter 6 (18 pages) we find four builds by Libor Jekl & Steve A. Evans, all first rate, with two in 1:72 (Fujimi Mk XIV & Special Hobby Mk 22), and two in 1:48 scale (Airfix Mk XIV & Special Hobby Mk XV).

Chapter 7 (Building a collection) is perhaps the most valuable and useful of all: The artwork of Juraj Jankovic (more than 85 three-D isometric views) shows us the differences between each variant.

Chapter 8 (In detail) includes a wealth of walkaround photos and diagrams from 6 preserved Spitfires that will help you understand the physical nature of the Griffon-powered machines in every possible detail. We particularly liked the pages showing all the tails of all the variants together, trying to clarify things and confusion about this matter!

ISBN: 978-1-912932-00-9. Retail price is £21.95 per copy + postage and packing. Orders via the Valiant Wings website,, by ‘phone on 01234 273434 (+44 1234 273434 if calling from outside the UK) or by writing to:

Valiant Wings Publishing, 8 West Grove, Bedford, MK40 4BT, UK

The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon-powered) - A Complete Guide To The Famous Fighter by Richard A. Franks is also available from specialist bookshops and certain hobby retailers. If you plan to build any model of Griffon powered Spitfire or you need one-source reference, do not miss this book. Highly recommended!

PS. When you visit Valiant's website using the links here, don't forget to check the first Volume or Part 1 (AM12) dealing with the Merlin-powered Spitfire variants!


Hi Kevin, after researches, its confirmed that this Tony is not "my Antony". Thanks and bravo for your work ! M .

on: pilots, 2021-06-03 . details

MV239 markings

pitfire HF Mk.VIIIc MV239 (VH-HET). At Temora Aviation Museum in Temora, New South Wales. Flew with the RAAF as A58-758, it now wears the ma .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-22 . details

Tony ? which Tony ?

Dear Kevin, I'm in contact with the son of Tony Bryan. He thinks the man on my picture is not his father. Even the details are matching. I .

on: pilots, 2021-05-21 . details

Additional detail from 'WW2 in Colour' page

The EP751, one of the two Spiftire VBs converted in floatplane by Folland, after his arrival in Egypt. The only three Spit floatplanes, prot .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-20 . details


Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe (Serial No. SM411), c/n CBAF.IX3495. This aircraft was assigned to RCAF No. 421 Sqn in 1944. It is curren .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-19 . details

Additional history

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. IXc (Serial No. JL361), A-CD (later FN-D/AH-D). This aircraft was the oldest of the Spitfires brought to Norway .

on: aircraft, 2021-05-19 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Hi Micka. It sounds like a really interesting story. I can't tell you much more than what's in the Operational Record Book which says (21st .

on: pilots, 2021-05-18 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Hello Kevin ! Regarding Anthony John Adrian Bryan, would you have more details ? Because Ive some for you ! .

on: members, 2021-05-18 . details

Anthony in Normandy

Anthony stayed months with my family close Saint André de l'Eure (Batigny). I do think the picture I've posted is the right one. None of .

on: pilots, 2021-05-18 . details

Thank you

Dear Kevin, Thank you for adding Blag (Blagdon Cecil Britton, 145 Squadron DAF)! I have only just found this site and now my spare time is .