Classic creation of designer R.J. Mitchell, the Supermarine Spitfire was the descendant of the race-winning Schneider Trophy seaplanes. First flown on 5 March 1936, the Spitfire Mk I with Merlin II engine and eight machine-guns entered RAF service in August 1938, this version being heavily committed to combat in the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire Mk II with Merlin XII followed in September 1940, the Spitfire Mk IIB being armed with two 20-mm guns and four machine-guns. The photo-reconnaissance Spitfire Mk IV was followed in March 1941 by the excellent Spitfire Mk V (of which 6,479 were produced) with 1074-kW (1,440hp) Merlin 45; the Spitfire Mk VC fighter-bomber could carry one 227kg (500-lb) or two 113-kg (250-lb) bombs. The Spitfire Mk VB remained the mainstay of Fighter Command between mid-1941 and mid-1942 when the Spitfire Mk IX, with 1238-kW (1,660-hp) Merlin 61 with two-stage, two-speed superchart joined the RAF. The Spitfire Mk Xl and Spitfire Mk VII were high-altitude fighters with extended wingtips, but the definitive Spitfire Mk VIII fighter and fighterbomber was used principally in the Mediterranean and Far East, being fully tropicalized.
The Spitfire Mk X and Spitfire Mk XI were unarmed photo-reconnaissance versions and the Spitfire Mk XVI, with a top speed of 652 km/h (405 mph) was produced in fighter and fighterbomber versions. All the foregoing (of which 18,298 were built) were powered by the Rolls-Royce or Packard Merlin, and the first with 1294-kW (1,735-hp) Griffon IV was the Spitfire Mk XII, introduced in 1943 to counter the Fw 190 fighter-bomber. It was followed by the 1529-kW (2,050-hp) Griffon 65-powered Spitfire Mk XTV fighter and fighter-bomber. The fighterreconnaissance Spitfire Mk XVIII was just joining the RAF at the end of the war and had a top speed of 712 km/h (442 mph). In the Fleet Air Arm Seafire variants also served in large numbers with both Merlin and Griffon engines. Total production of the Spitfire was 20,351, plus 2,334 Seafires.
Specification Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB
Type: single-seat interceptor fighter
Powerplant: one 1074-kW(l,440-hp) Rolls-Royce Merlin 45/46/50 V-12 piston engine
Performance: maximum speed 602 km/h (374 mph) at 3960 m (13,000 ft); climb to 6095 m (20,000 ft) in 7.5 minutes; service ceiling 11280 m (37,000 ft); range on internal fuel 756 km (470 miles)
Weights: empty 2313 kg (5,100 lb); maximum take-off 3078 kg (6,785 lb)
Dimensions: span 11.23 m (36 ft 10 in); length 9.11 m (29 ft 11 in); height 3.48 m (11 ft 5 in); wing area 22.48 m2/(242.0 sq ft)
Armament: two 20-mm cannon and four 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns in the wings