Produced in greater numbers than any other British combat aircraft before or since the War, 20,341 Spitfires were built in 22 different variants (excluding the navalised Seafire) and the aircraft remained in production for 12 years.
The prototype’s maiden flight took place on 5th March 1936 and Mk1 Spitfires entered RAF service (with No 19 Squadron) in August 1938.
The development potential of the original design allowed the Spitfire to establish and then maintain the air superiority so vital to the defence of Britain and to keep pace with the improvements in performance of enemy fighters throughout World War Two.
Spitfires fought in every operational theatre of the War and remained in RAF front-line service up to 1954. At the end of its development the Spitfire carried an engine producing more than twice the power of the original, its maximum take-off weight and rate of climb had more than doubled, its firepower had increased by a factor of five and its maximum speed had been increased by a third; all this in essentially the same airframe.
The Spitfire played a major part in achieving ultimate victory in World War Two and truly deserves its place as probably the most successful fighter design ever, and certainly as the most famous and charismatic of all time.
To read more about the various Spitfires on the Flight, use the links on the left hand side.
Header Image: 601 Squadron Spitfire V N Africa 1942.
Image 1: 19 Squadron Spitfire taking off.
Image 2: Spitfire MkIs from 65 Squadron.