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Spitfire

Please find below details of each mark of Spitfire and the sub menus are dedicated to specific aspects of the Spitfire’s history and cultural impact.

Type Number Mark Number Description 
     ROYAL AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT OF THE INTERWAR PERIODROYAL AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT OF THE INTERWAR PERIOD© IWM (MH 5212) 
300 Ia
 
 
 
 
Ib 
Construction of K5054 began in December 1934 and the prototype first flew on 5 March 1936 from Eastleigh with ‘Mutt’ Summers as pilot.  The first production aircraft equipped 19 Squadron in 1938.
 
Spitfires fitted with two Hispano cannons and four Browning machine guns, the first squadron fully equipped with these was 19 Squadron in June 1940.
 
Wingspan – 11.23m
 
Length – 9.12m
 
Height – 3.02m
 
Engine – Merlin III
 
Maximum speed – 367mph at 16,000ft
 
Service ceiling – 34,400ft
 
Combat range – 425 miles 
332, 335, 336 and 341 Export aircraft for Estonia, Greece, Portugal and Turkey. 
      
323 Speed Spitfire Modified Mk I for an attempt on the world speed record and first flew on 11 November 1938 and would eventually reach a top speed of 408mph.  Unfortunately rival aircraft in Germany were approaching 470mph and the Speed Spitfire project lapsed. 
     THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN BRITAIN, APRIL 1941THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN BRITAIN, APRIL 1941© IWM (TR 139)
329 IIa
 
 
 
 
IIb 
The Mk II would be entirely built at the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory and production began in June 1940 and completed by April 1941.  The Mk IIa included eight Browning machine guns.
 
The Mk IIb version had the two Hispano cannons and four Browning machine guns.
 
Wingspan – 11.23m
 
Length – 9.12m
 
Height – 3.02m
 
Engine – Merlin XII
 
Maximum speed – 354mph at 17,550ft
 
Service ceiling – 37,600ft
 
Combat range – 405 miles 
      
330 III First major attempt at re-designing the airframe and incorporating an uprated Merlin engine, the first flight occurred in March 1940.  The changes included reducing the wingspan, increasing the fuselage length, improvements to the undercarriage and retractable tail wheel.  This version didn’t make production as the engine was prioritised for the Hurricane II.  Although it would serve as the prototype for the crucial Mk IX 
      
331 Va The Mk V started operational service from early 1941 and were mostly constructed at Castle Bromwich.  The Mk Va again was fitted with eight Browning machine guns. 
      
337 IV The Mk IV would be the first Spitfire to be installed with the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine.  It didn’t go into full production but rather served as a development aircraft to sort out the airframe changes required to incorporate the additional weight and power of the new engine.  The prototype first flew on 27 November 1941. 
     THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE IN TUNISIA, APRIL 1943THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE IN TUNISIA, APRIL 1943© IWM (TR 865)
349 Vb The Vb version once again incorporated two Hispano cannons and four Browning machine guns.  As a result of the introduction of the FW 190 in August 1941, the Vb had the option of clipped wings to improve speed and handling at lower altitudes.
 
The Mk Vc incorporated the universal wing which allowed a number of permutations in armaments to be carried in the wing and was also easier to manufacture.
 
LF Mk Vb
Wingspan – 9.9m
 
Length – 9.12m
 
Height – 3.48m
 
Engine – Merlin 50M
 
Maximum speed – 350.5mph at 5,900ft
 
Service ceiling – 35,700ft
 
Combat range – 470 miles 
     AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.© IWM (CH 18083)
350 VI Designed in 1941 to counter the perceived threat of the JU 86 high flying bomber.  This was achieved by pressurising the cockpit, improved Merlin engine and propellers and also creating more pointed wing tips to improve air flow.  As the treat didn’t materialise only two squadrons were fully equipped with this version.
 
Wingspan – 12.24m
 
Length – 9.12m
 
Height – 3.48m
 
Engine – Merlin 47
 
Maximum speed – 354mph
 
Service ceiling – 39,200ft
 
Combat range – 428 miles 
     AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.© IWM (ATP 10976C)
351 VII This mark was an improved version of the Mk VI for high altitude interception with a service ceiling of 45,000ft.  Improvements included a better canopy that could be removed easily by the pilot and the pressurisation of the cockpit utilised rubber seals to improve the experience. 
     ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, 1939-1943.ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, 1939-1943.© IWM (CNA 2272)
352 Vb and Vc (trop) These versions of the Mk V included a Vokes air filter under the nose of the aircraft and many had a modified air filter which was more streamlined compared with the standard Vokes.  These were required for operation in North Africa, Middle East, Far East and Australia to cope with climatic and ground conditions associated with these areas. 
      
355 and 359 Floatplanes Five aircraft were converted to floatplanes for operations in the Battle of Norway, Mediterranean and Far East where there were a lack of airfields.  The fitting of floats didn’t massively decrease performance but events moved too quickly for production to be justified.  The marks included the I, V and IX. 
     ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: FIGHTER COMMANDROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: FIGHTER COMMAND© IWM (ATP 13611 C)
356 21, 22 and 24 In order for the Spitfire to handle the increased power of the two stage supercharged Griffon engine, the wings were entirely re-designed and could handle speeds approaching the speed of sound.  The first prototype first flew in July 1943 and the production example in March 1944.  Initially it suffered from handling problems but these were smoothed out and entered squadron service in January 1945, fitted with four Hispano cannons.
 
Mark 22 aircraft had the tear drop canopy and cut down rear fuselage.  Only one regular squadron of the RAF operated the aircraft but did serve in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force until 1951.
 
Mark 24, largely identical to the Spitfire 22 it had increased fuel capacity and had the ability to carry rocket projectiles and bomb armaments.  Operational from 1946 and continued with the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force until 1955.  It was twice as heavy and had twice the performance of the original Spitfire and represented the ultimate mark of this pedigree.
 
F. Mk 24
 
Wingspan – 11.25 m
 
Length – 10.03 m
 
Height – 4.11 m
 
Engine – Merlin 85
 
Maximum speed – 454mph
 
Service ceiling – 43,000ft
 
Combat range – 390 miles 
     AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.© IWM (ATP 12632C)
360 VIII The Spitfire Mk VIII was effectively the Mk VII airframe without the pressurised cockpit and standard wing tips.  It had three different Merlin options for low, medium and high altitude requirements.  Most if this mark were based in the Middle East and Far East. 
     ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945.ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945.© IWM (CL 726)
361 IX
 
 
 
 
 
XVI 
An interim mark designed to counter the FW 190 in 1942, it actually became the most produced version of the Spitfire.  The use of the two stage supercharger provided a quantum leap in performance particularly over 20,000ft and provided effective opposition to the latest German fighter.
 
Almost identical to the Mk IX but utilised the Merlin 266 produced by Packard in America.  All these aircraft were used for low altitude roles and featured clipped wings.
 
L.F. Mk IXe
 
Wingspan – 9.9 m
 
Length – 9.47 m
 
Height – 3.86 m
 
Engine – Merlin 66
 
Maximum speed – 404mph
 
Service ceiling – 42,500ft
 
Combat range – 434 miles 
     AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.© IWM (ATP 12822C)
365, 370 and 387 PR X and PR XI The Type 387 as the PR X was an amalgam of a Mk VII airframe and PR XI wings, with the pressurised cockpit it could sustain heights of 40,000ft for photographic sorties.  It operated in small numbers from May 1944 and led to the ultimate Spitfire photo reconnaissance Mk XIX.
 
Types 365 and 370 (tropicalised) as the PR XI were an amalgamation of the Mks VII, VIII and IX.  Produced from 1942 it was designed for tactical reconnaissance but could climb high to avoid enemy fighters but did not have a pressurised cockpit. 
     ROYAL AIR FORCE: AIR DEFENCE OF GREAT BRITAIN (ADGB), 1943-1944.ROYAL AIR FORCE: AIR DEFENCE OF GREAT BRITAIN (ADGB), 1943-1944.© IWM (CH 12754)
366 XII First production Spitfire with the Griffon engine and entered limited service with two squadrons from October 1942.  As the engine only had a single staged turbo charger, the wings were clipped to take advantage of its superb low and medium speed and maneuverability.  This was shown when these aircraft could catch and destroy V-1s heading towards the South East of England.
 
Wingspan – 9.9 m
 
Length – 9.62 m
 
Height – 3.86 m
 
Engine – Griffon III or IV
 
Maximum speed – 397mph
 
Service ceiling – 39,000ft
 
Combat range – 493 miles 
     AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE.© IWM (ATP 11330D)
367 PR XIII Photographic version created for low level sorties ahead of the D-Day invasion in 1944, including an armament of four Browning machine guns.  Camera equipment fitted included one oblique F24 and two vertical F24s all in the fuselage. 
      
372 23 This was to be known as the Supermarine Valiant, based on a Mk 22 with a new wing with an increased incidence to increase dive speed and handling.  The improvements didn’t materialise during testing during the latter part of 1944 and development ceased. 
     THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE FAR EAST 1945-1946THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE FAR EAST 1945-1946© IWM (CF 799)
374 PR IX and FR IX These aircraft were modified Mk IXs created as an interim measure before the introduction of the PR XI.  They were involved in reconnaissance missions that included Operation Chastise and Market Garden, capturing seminal images of these iconic events. 
ROYAL AIR FORCE: AIR DEFENCE OF GREAT BRITAIN (ADGB), 1943-1944.ROYAL AIR FORCE: AIR DEFENCE OF GREAT BRITAIN (ADGB), 1943-1944.© IWM (CH 18183)
379 XIV Incorporated the two stage super charged Griffon engine which substantially improved performance at high altitudes but required considerable airframe changes to cope with the weight and power of the new engine.  This included more fuel storage to deal with the higher fuel consumption, five blade propeller and greater cooling facilities.  This mark of Spitfire would destroy more V-1s than any other Spitfire and German fighters avoided combat with it due to its performance.  610 Squadron was the first to operate the aircraft from December 1943.
 
Wingspan – 11.23 m
 
Length – 9.95 m
 
Height – 3.89 m
 
Engine – Griffon 65
 
Maximum speed – 449mph
 
Service ceiling –  43,000ft
 
Combat range – 460 miles 
     BRITISH AIRCRAFT OF THE PERIOD 1939-1945BRITISH AIRCRAFT OF THE PERIOD 1939-1945© IWM (MH 5790)
389 and 390 XIX The ultimate photographic reconnaissance version of the Spitfire which incorporated a pressurised cockpit and the Mk XIV Griffon engine.  It entered operational service in May 1944 and would only retire from frontline service with the RAF until April 1954. 
     BRITISH AIRCRAFT OF THE PERIOD 1939-1945BRITISH AIRCRAFT OF THE PERIOD 1939-1945© IWM (MH 5791)
394 XVIII The Mk XVIII was a refined Spitfire XIV with additional fuel, stronger wing and bubble canopy.  This mark only saw operational service after the end of the Second World War and mainly used in the Far East. 
      
509 T IX and TR 9 Post war conversion into two seat training aircraft for the Indian Air Force and the Irish Air Corps based on the Mk IX.