The Supermarine Spitfire Was the most famous British WWII fighter and also the only allied plane which operated throughout the entire conflict
HistoryEditDesigned in 1936 by Reginald Mitchell (also the creator, in the 1920s, of the famous Supermarine S6), the Spitfire Mk I entered service in August, 1938.
The fame of this plane is said to be in the Battle of Britain, where its performance in medium and low altitudes (where the main battles were fought) surpassed that of the then-main German fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Although the total Spitfire battle losses were greater than those of German fighters (notably the Fw 190), Spitfires were crucial to the efforts by the Royal Air Force to shoot down Luftwaffe bombers. This frustrated the plans of Adolf Hitler to compel Great Britain to sign a peace treaty according to its terms.
At the end of 1941, when the Nazis were already focused on their primary goal (the invasion of the Soviet Union) the Luftwaffe introduced the first fighter which matched the Spitfire in performance at low altitudes, and exceeded it in the medium and high: the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. By this time the Spitfire began to enter service with both the United States and the Soviet Union. In the second quarter of 1942,in aerial combat over Papua New Guinea and northern Australia, it was found that the Spitfire was also overmatched by the main Japanese fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
For this reason, by late 1943 and early 1944, the Spitfire was gradually replaced by other fighter aircraft with greater flight range, such as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Russian Yakovlev Yak-9 and especially the North American P-51 Mustang.Operations of air-ground attack were shifted to the aforementioned P-47 as well as the British Hawker Tempest. However, the Spitfire's use as a fighter-bomber and in support for ground forces (both in Europe and the Far East) continued until the end of the conflict, by which time it was definitely obsolete in comparison to the main fighters of the time. Some later versions of the Spitfires remained in service with countries such as Syria until 1953.
- Crew: one pilot
- Length: 29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
- Height: 11 ft 5 in (3.86 m)
- Wing area: 242.1 ft² (22.48 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 2209.4(tip)
- Empty weight: 5,090 lb (2,309 kg)
- Loaded weight: 6,622 lb (3,000 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 6,770 lb (3,071 kg)
- Powerplant: 1× Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 supercharged V12 engine, 1,470 hp (1,096 kW) at 9,250 ft (2,820 m)
- Maximum speed: 378 mph, (330 kn, 605 km/h)
- Combat radius: 410 nmi (470 mi, 760 km)
- Ferry range: 991 nmi (1,140 mi, 1,840 km)
- Service ceiling: 35,000 ft (11,300 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,665 ft/min (13.5 m/s)
- Wing loading: 24.56 lb/ft² (119.91 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.22 hp/lb (0.36 kW/kg)
- 2 × 20 mm (0.787-in) Hispano Mk II cannon, 60 rpg (drum magazine)
- 4 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns, 350 rpg
- Bombs: 2 × 250 lb (113 kg) bombs
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