The Supermarine Seafire Mk.XVII was an improved version of the Griffon-powered Seafire XV, with the bubble canopy and cut-down rear fuselage adopted for late Seafire XVs combined with a better undercarriage and stronger wings. The bubble canopy had been introduced on the last thirty Seafire XVs produced by Westland, and became a standard feature of the Mk.XVII. The new rear-fuselage was also able to carry an extra fuel tank, which could be replaced with two cameras to produce the FR.XVII.
The Mk.XVII has a stronger wing, which meant that as well as the 500lb bomb under the fuselage it could carry one 250lb bomb under each wing. It could also carry a 22.5 gallon combat tank under the outer wings. The most significant change was the introduction of a new undercarriage with a 3in longer oleo stroke, which improved its ability to absorb the shock of hard landings and reduced the aircraft's tendency to bounce, a very dangerous trail on a carrier aircraft.
The first Seafire Mk.XVII was delivered in April 1945. Eventually Westland built 213 and Cunliffe-Own twenty, for a total of 223.
The Seafire F.Mk.XVII had a short front line career. It entered service with Nos.809 and 879 Squadrons after their return from the Far East, but both of these squadrons were disbanded soon after receiving their new aircraft - No.809 on 11 January 1946 and No.879 on 30 December 1945.
No.807 Squadron received the aircraft in December 1945, and used it when it was deployed to Germany as part of Second TAF between November 1945 and January 1946. The squadron then joined HMS Vengeance for exercises in the North Sea in May-June 1947, before converting to the Sea Fury.
No.800 Squadron used the Seafire XVII from September 1946, operating alongside No.805 Squadron on HMS Ocean and Triumph in the Mediterranean during 1947 and early 1948. No.800 Squadron used the Seafire XVII on its operational debut, helping to cover the British evacuation from Palestine.
The last units to retain the type were Nos.1831 and 1832 reserve squadrons, which kept it until 1941, and No.764 training squadron, which used it until 1954.
Supermarine Type 395
Engine: Two speed single stage supercharged Griffon VI and 26
Power: 1,950hp at take-off, 1,850hp at max power at 2,000ft (or 1,735hp in SAM)
Wing span: 36ft 10in, 13ft 3in folded
Length: 32ft 3in
Height: 10ft 8in (tail up), 13ft 6in (tail down, wings folded)
Empty Weight: 6,385lb
Loaded Weight: 8,148lb
Max Speed: 387mph at 13,000ft
Service Ceiling: 35,200ft
Rate of Climb: 4,600ft/ min
Range: 435 miles
Armament: Two 20mm Hispano cannon and four 0.303in Browning machine guns
Bomb-load: One 250lb or 500lb bomb under fuselage and one 250lb bomb or eight 60lb rockets under each wing
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