Supermarine Spitfire Mk 21-24

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The Spitfire Mk 21 was the last fighter variant of the aircraft to see service during the Second World War. Work on a new wing for the Spitfire started in February 1942, and resulted in the wing used in the Mk 21 and later the Spiteful and Seafang. This new wing lost the gentle curve of the classic Spitfire wing, and was such a major change that the resulting aircraft was almost renamed the Victor. However, the fuselage was obviously that of the Spitfire, complete with the original bulging canopy. The new wing carried a standard armament of four 20mm cannon.

The new design was not entirely successful. The first Mk 21s were produced in September 1944, but tests revealed that they were not stable in flight, and they did not enter service until April 1945 when No.91 squadron received modified aircraft. Over 3,000 Mk 21s were ordered, but only 120 were built before the order was cancelled. The Mk 21s remained in service until 1952.

The Mk 22 was a development of the Mk 21. It used the cut-down fuselage and teardrop canopy seen on most other late Spitfires, but this reintroduced the instability seen in the Mk 21. The reaction was to install a much larger tail, increasing the area of the control services by over 25%. Production began in March 1945, but the aircraft did not arrive in time to see active service in the Pacific. 260 Mk 22s were produced. Finally, in November 1946, ten years after the first prototype, the Mk 24 appeared. The main change in this version was that it could carry rocket projectiles. Eighty one Mk 24s were produced, and saw service in Malaya after the end of the war. The Spitfire remained in RAF service until 1952. Between 1952 and 1955 a small number of Spitfires were used by the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 March 2007), Supermarine Spitfire Mk 21-24, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_spitfire_mk21.html

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