The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries before, during and after World War II. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft.
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat against other aircraft, as opposed to bombers and attack aircraft, whose main mission is to attack ground targets.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier.
Supermarine was a British aircraft manufacturer that produced, among the others, a range of seaplanes and the Supermarine Spitfire fighter.
History of a Legend - Supermarine Spitfire Documentary by Cine
It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war.
Spitfire - History of the Supermarine Spitfire by FootageDirect
The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; about 54 remain airworthy, while many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.
The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928.
An interceptor aircraft, or simply interceptor, is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to attack enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, as they approach.
Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, was an English aeronautical engineer, who worked for Supermarine Aviation.
For the modern day New Zealand aircraft company see: Vickers Aircraft Company
Mitchell pushed the Spitfire's distinctive elliptical wing designed by Beverley Shenstone to have the thinnest possible cross-section, helping give the aircraft a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane.
Beverley Strahan Shenstone MASc, HonFRAes, FAIAA, AFIAS, FCAISI, HonOSTIV was a Canadian aerodynamicist often credited with developing the aerodynamics of the Supermarine Spitfire elliptical wing.
An elliptical wing is a wing planform whose leading and trailing edges each approximate to segments of an ellipse.
Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith took over as chief designer, overseeing the development of the Spitfire through its multitude of variants.
During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the main RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
The Battle of Britain was a combat of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom against the German Air Force attacks from the end of June 1940.
Spitfire units, however, had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of its higher performance.
During the Battle, Spitfires in general were tasked with engaging Luftwaffe fighters—mainly Messerschmitt Bf 109E series aircraft which were a close match for them.
After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific, and South-East Asian theatres.
Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s.
The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire which served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s.
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft.
Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp, it was strong enough and adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlins and, in later marks, Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,340 hp.
The Rolls-Royce Griffon is a British 37-litre capacity, 60-degree V-12, liquid-cooled aero engine designed and built by Rolls-Royce Limited.
Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in Arthurian legend and medieval Welsh poetry.
The Rolls-Royce Merlin is a British liquid-cooled V-12 piston aero engine of 27-litres capacity.
As a consequence of this, the Spitfire's performance and capabilities improved over the course of its service life.