Probably one of the most famous fighter planes of all time, the spitfire became by the latter stages of World War 2 a superb fighter aircraft. The original design concept was by Reginald Mitchell, who was succeeded by Joe Smith on his death in 1937. It was Joe Smith who masterminded the aircraft's future development and its growth in power, speed and the number of roles it undertook. The prototype flew out of Southampton in 1936 with the early MKIs reaching 19 sqn in June 1938. Throughout the war other variants and upgrades steadily followed, including a PR.IV photo-recon version and the lethal MK IX with a two stage supercharger and intercooler brought in hurriedly as a response to the FW 190 Focke Wulf. The MK IX was produced until 1944 with 5,665 being made. By the end of the war the Mk XVIII was in service with the XIX being the photo-recon version. In total over 20,000 spitfires were produced with the best versions having a top speed of 721km/h(448mph) and being armed with x2 20mm cannon and x4 7.7mm machine guns. Contrary to popular belief the Spitfire was not the main aircraft in the battle of Britain - that honour goes to the Hurricane, but it did serve in every theatre of war including the naval version, the Seafire.
Prototypes - Mk I - Mk II - Mk III - Mk V - Mk VI - Mk VII - Mk VIII - Mk IX - Mk XII - Mk XIV - Mk XVI - Mk XVIII - Mk 21 to 24 - Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires - Spitfire Wings - Timeline
How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (7 August 2000), Supermarine Spitfire, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_spitfire.html