The Supermarine Seafire Mk.47 was the final, and best, version of the Seafire, and combined the contra-rotating propellers of the Seafire F.46 with folding wings that made it fully suited for carrier operations.
The folding wings were of a new design. The hinge was placed just outside the cannon bay, further out than on the Seafire III. When folded the wings were lower than on the Seafire III, and so the folding wing-tips of the earlier aircraft were no longer need. The first four aircraft had manually folded wings, but after that a hydraulic system was installed, and the wings could be folded in ten seconds.
The Mk.47 had a stronger wing than the Mk.46. As a result it could carry two 500lb bombs or eight 60lb rockets, or two 22.5 gallon under wing fuel tanks. It could also carry a 90 gallon drop tank under the fuselage. Despite all of these additions the top speed only dropped to 433mph at 24,000ft.
The Mk.47 had a revised undercarriage. The oleo leg stroke was increased by one inch, and the undercarriage wheels were placed one foot further apart, a move that would have greatly improved the landing characteristics of earlier models.
The first fourteen aircraft were powered by the Griffon 87, but the rest of the 89 production aircraft (built by Supermarine at South Marston) were powered by the Griffon 88, which used a Rolls-Royce fuel-injection system instead of the carburettor used on earlier Spitfires and Seafires.
Most of the 89 aircraft were built as the FR.Mk.47, and carried one vertical and one oblique F.24 camera.
Production of the Mk.47 was slow, and it didn’t enter squadron service until January 1948, when No.804 Squadron received its first aircraft. Production ended early in 1949 (January or March). Just after this No.800 Squadron became the second operational unit to receive the type. In May 1949, when No.804 Squadron converted to the Sea Fury, No.800 became the only Seafire squadron.
No.800 Squadron thus became the only squadron to use the Seafire Mk.47 in combat. The type's combat debut came on 21 October 1949, when ten Seafires and twelve Fireflies based on-shore carried out an attack on an enemy camp in Malaya. The squadron flew a series of missions over Malaya before re-embarking on HMS Furious on 5 February 1950.
Six months later the squadron was back in combat, this time operating from the carrier. On 25 June, the day after the Triumph ended a visit to Japan, North Korean invaded South Korea. The Triumph joined the US 7th Fleet, and soon sailed for Korea. The first combat mission of the war came on 3 July when 12 Seafire Mk.47s and nine Firefly FR.1s took part in an attack on a North Korean base. HMS Triumph remained in the combat area for eleven weeks. During that period the squadron had used a total of twenty six Seafires. Twelve survived the fighting, although only three were considered airworthy and only one was cleared for combat!
In November 1950 HMS Triumph returned to Britain, and No.800 Squadron was disbanded, ending the front-line career of the Seafire.
Engine: Griffon 87 or Griffon 88
Power: 2,145hp or 2,350hp
Wing span: 36ft 11in
Wing span folded: 19ft 1in
Length: 34ft 4in (to tip of arrestor hook)
Height: 12ft 9in (tail down)
Empty Weight: 7,625lb
Loaded Weight: 10,200lb
Maximum Weight: 12,750lb
Max Speed: 451mph at 20,000ft or 433mph at 24,000ft
Rate of Climb: 4,800ft/ minute
Service Ceiling: 43,100ft
Range: 405 miles plus 15 minutes combat or 1,475 maximum
Armament: Four 20mm British Hispano Mk V cannon
Bomb-load: Two 500lb or 250lb bombs or eight 60lb rockets or one Mk IX depth charge
Return to main Supermarine Seafire article