Supermarine Seafire Mk.IIc

The Supermarine Seafire Mk.IIc was the first version of the aircraft to be built from new as a naval fighter, and was developed alongside the Mk.Ib.

Work on the prototype Mk.IIc began in 1941 when a Spitfire Vc (AD371) was converted by Supermarine. This aircraft was delivered to RAE Farnborough on 25 February 1942, and then went onto HMS Illustrious for deck trails. These demonstrated that the fuselage needed to be strengthened for naval use. The increase in weight this caused meant that the Mk.IIc could only carry two of the four 20mm cannon possible on the 'c' wing.

Supermarine Seafire
Seafire IIc

In March 1942 an order for 213 Mk IIs was placed with Cunliffe-Owen, and for 202 with Supermarine. The first Supermarine aircraft made its maiden flight on 28 May 1942, the first Cunliffe-Owen aircraft only in December 1942.  


The basic Mk.IIc was similar to the Ib, but with the Spitfire 'c' wing, and a stronger fuselage in key places. Although the 'c' wing could carry eight machine guns or four cannon, on the Seafire IIc it was always used to carry two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns. The Mk.IIc was heavier than the Mk.Ib, and so was slightly slower.


The original Mk.IIc was most effective at medium and high levels, but the Fleet Air Arm needed low-level performance. The Merlin 32 was tested in a Spitfire I, and then in a number of Seafire IIcs, which received the designation L.Mk.IIc. This version entered service with No.807 Squadron, which reached full squadron strength in May 1943. The Seafire L.Mk.IIc could reach 333mph at 5,000ft, giving it the best low level speed of any naval fighter of the war.

LR Mk IIc/ PR L Mk IIc/ FR Mk IIc

Seafire II on HMS Illustrious
Seafire II on HMS Illustrious

The final version of the Seafire IIc was the LR.Mk.IIc low-level photo-reconnaissance version. About thirty aircraft were converted to this standard by Heston Aircraft. It carried two F.24 cameras - one vertically mounted and one obliquely mounted.

Mk. IIc
Supermarine Type 357
Engine: Single-speed single-stage supercharged Merlin 45 or 46
Power: 1,470hp or 1,415hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 36ft 10in or 30ft 6in with clipped wings
Length: 29ft 11in
Height: 11ft 5.5in (tail up)
Empty Weight: 5,300lb
Max Weight: 7,100lb
Max Speed: 352mph at 12,250ft
Service Ceiling: 32,000ft
Range: 493 miles
Armament: Two 20mm Hispano cannon and four 0.303in Browning machine guns
Bomb-load: One 250lb bomb on fuselage centreline

L Mk IIc
as above apart from
Engine: single-speed single stage Merlin 32
Power: 1,645hp

FR Mk IIc/ LR Mk IIc/ PR L Mk IIc
As Mk IIc apart from
Engine: single-speed single stage Merlin 32
Power: 1,645hp
Camera: One F.24 (8 or 14in focal length) oblique and one F.24 (5, 8, 14 or 20in focal length) vertical

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 January 2010), Supermarine Seafire Mk.IIc ,

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