As complete volumes have been issued dealing with this one glorious machine alone, there is little purpose here in giving more than general, summarised details of the Spitfire.
Developed from the Schneider seaplanes by the late R.J. Mitchell (and to the same specification as the Hurricane), it has kept in the very forefront of fighter progress. With Rolls Royce engines throughout its many modifications, it can safely claim to have the measure of anything the Luftwaffe can send against it.
In the cloudy days of 1940, Spitfires and Hurricanes achieved results which are known throughout the world, and have been worthily eulogised by far more worthy than can be set down here. It should be remembered that the Spitfires tackled the German fighters while the Hurricanes took care of the bombers.
Now serving in all parts and under all conditions, the Spitfire will be found wherever there is trouble in the sky. A recent addition is the Seafire, adapted for the Fleet Air Arm and flown from aircraft carriers.
The only regrettable fact in the “Spit’s” history is that its inspired designer could not live to see the result of his work on the whole course of the war.
Manufacturers: Vickers-Armstrong Ltd, and produced in subsidiary factories.
Type: British single-seat fighter developed from S5, S6 and S6B of Schneider Trophy fame and from the F7/30 type to meet requirements of F36/34.
Engine: Rolls Royce Merlin
Speed: Maximum, 387mph at 18,500ft
Range: Very difficult to assess, as duration varies from three to six hours, according to the nature of duties undertaken.
Rate of climb: 2,300 ft per minute
Armament: Mk 1A – 8 Browning .303 machine guns (4 in each wing).. Mk.IIA – 8 Machine guns, but higher h.p. engines. Mk.V 2 20mm Hispano cannons and 4 machine guns. Mk.VC – 4 cannons. Mk.V (Plus) – 4 cannon and new four-bladed airscrew.
Dimensions: Span: 26ft 10in, length: 28ft 11in, height: 11ft 5in, wing area: 242 sq ft.
Construction: Single spar wings, stressed skin covering, flush riveted; tail unit same; fuselage: monocoque, flush riveted, stressed skin covering; retractable undercarriage.
Distinguishing features: Low-wing monoplane with simple tail unit amd retractable undercarriage. Sharp-pointed nose. Elliptical or petal-shaped wings. Dihedral from roots. Radiator under starboard wing. Flat top to fuselage. Small egg-shaped fin and rudder. Graceful and well-curved bottom.
Summary of recognition features: “Elliptical”
Reproduced from 'The Recognition of Operational Aircraft' by Captain GB Ransford and published in late 1943/early 1944 (price 3 shillings and sixpence).
See more on the Supermarine Spitfire