Copied and modified from
MOORE Aviation Restoration; Services for this domain have been discontinued.

Mk. IX

Without a doubt, the best known British aircraft of World War II, the Supermarine Spitfire originated from the Type 224 designed by R. J. Mitchell to meet the requirements of Specification F.7/30. A cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, it had an inverted gull wing "trousered" fixed main landing gear and was powered by a 447-kw (600-Hp) Rolls-Royce Goshawk II Vee engine. When the Type 224 was tested its performance was disappointing and it was no more successful than any other submissions to this specification; none of them gained an Air Ministry Contract.

Profile of a Typical Spitfire Mk.IX

Deliveries of production Spitfire I's began in June 1938, two years after the first production contract had been placed . In those two years Supermarine laid out their Woolston factory for large-scale production and organized one of the largest subcontract schemes ever envisaged in Britain. Until that time, as it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was no limit to the likely demand for the Spitfire. It was also obvious that one factory alone was not going to be able to meet the demand even with sub-contracting. Large scale plans were laid during 1937 for the construction by the Nuffield Group of a large new shadow factory at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham for Spitfire production. On April 12,1938 a contract was placed for 1,000 Spitfires to be built at this new factory, of which the actual construction had not then even begun. In the following year, on April 29 further contracts were placed with Supermarine for 200 Spitfires and on August 9 for 450. When Britain went to war on September 3,1939 a total of 2,160 Spitfires were already on order.

Vickers/Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX

Structurally the Spitfire was a straightforward design with a light alloy monocoque fuselage and a single spar wing with stressed-skin covering and fabric-covered control surfaces. The Spitfire was adapted from Reginald Mitchell's aesthetically pleasing 1925 F.7/30 design. To preserve the clean nose-cowling lines originally conceived by Mitchell, the radiator was located beneath the starboard wing with the smaller oil cooler causing some asymmetry beneath the port wing, and the carburetor air intake under the center fuselage. A DeHavilland two-blade wooden fixed-pitch propeller was employed by the prototype and the first Spitfire I's had the Airscrew Company's wooden fixed-pitch two-blade. Later a DeHavilland three-blade, two position propeller was adopted after trials on the first prototype. The new propeller gave a 5 mph increase in speed. In 1940 DeHavilland three-blade constant-speed propeller were substituted. Production Spitfires had a fixed tail wheel and triple ejector exhaust manifolds. The X80 HP Rolls-Royce Merlin II and later the Merlin III engine was installed.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX Cutaway

The Spitfire I weighed 5,280 lb. had a wing loading of 24 lb./s. ft. and a fuel capacity of 85 Imperial gallons. Its maximum speed was 362 mph its maximum diving speed was 450 mph its initial climb rate was 2,500 ft./min. and it took 9.4 minutes to climb to 20,000 feet. Its combat range was 395 miles and its roll rate was 140 deg./sec. Standard armament in what was subsequently to become known as the A wing was eight 0.303-in. Browning machine-guns with 300 rounds of ammunition. The speed of the Spitfire I was marginally higher than that of its principal opponent the Luftwaffes Messerschmitt Bf 109E and it was infinitely more manaeuvrable than the German fighter although the Bf 109E could out climb and out dive the British fighter and its shell-firing cannon had a longer range than the Spitfire's machine-guns.

Another Mk.IX Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk.IX - SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Supermarine Corp. - Castle Bromwich, England
Version: F.Mk.IX
Nickname: Spitfire
First Flew: March 5, 1936
Type: Single-Seat fighter/fighter-bomber
Length: 31'4" 9.55 M
Height: 11' 5" 3.48 M
Wingspan: 36'10" 11.22 M
Wingarea: 242 Sq Ft 22.48 Sq M
Empty Weight: 5,065 lbs 2,297 Kg
Gross Weight: 9,500 lbs 4,309 Kg
Powerplant: Rolls-Royce Merlin 63
Horsepower 1,290
Range: 435 Miles 696 Km
Cruise Speed: 280 Mph 580 Km/H 219 Kt
Max Speed: 408 Mph 656 Km/H 320 Kt
Climb: 3,950 Ft/min 1,204 M/min
Ceiling: 38,000 Ft 11,880 M
Armament: Two 20 mm cannons and four .303 caliber machine guns, external bomb load of 1,000 lbs (454 kg)

In the fall of 1941, the new Focke-Wulf FW 190A appeared over the Channel front and immediately displayed its superiority to the Spitfire Mk.V. Plans were put in hand for a stop-gap fighter based on the Mk.V but fitted with a Merlin 60 series engine and, entering service in June, 1942, the Spitfire F.Mk.IX proved very successful. No less than 5,665 were built within the total of 20,351 Spitfires. At one time equipping just under 100 squadrons, the type remained in service until after the end of the war. Subvariants were the Spitfire LF.Mk.IX and HF.Mk.IX with clipped and extended wings for low and high altitude roes respectively and E-suffixed versions with two 0.5 in. (12.7 mm) machine guns in place of a quartet of .303 in. guns.

There were 5665 Spitfire IXs produced. They were superlative aircraft. From the moment it burst upon the European scene, the Spitfire IX was equal to or superior to anything the Germans could throw into the air - with the obvious exception in late 1944 of the Me 262!! But from January 1943 through the early summer months of 1944, the Spitfire IX was the best short-range fighter in Europe.

Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk.IX - Click on the Picture for more info on the Merlin

Production of some 40 different variants of the Spitfire took place throughout the war and after. They served in every combat area, operating as fighters, fighter-bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and carrier-based fighters with the Royal Navy. Griffon engines replaced Merlins after a time, and the Spitfire XIX reconnaissance version became the fastest of all the wartime Spitfires with a speed of nearly 748 km/h (460 mph). The last Spitfire was built in 1947. As a fighter, at all altitudes it had proved superb, while continuous edges gained firstly by German Bf 109s and Focke Wulfs 190s and then by different versions of the Spitfire led to closely-matched battles throughout the war.


"Flying a Supermarine Spitfire is a religious experience. Words cannot adequately describe it. The aircraft is extremely stable (as long as the rear fuel tank is empty). It is easy to maneuver on the ground and the sound of the Roll-Royce Merlin in the Mk.IX instills an aura of confidence and reliability that few powerplants can provide. It goes like stink and has a wide flight regime, landing at a timid 55 knots. Docile in the stall, it lets you know one is approaching well in advance and recovery, even with a wing drop (which does't occur without flaps) is textbook. The gear is relatively narrow and as such, landings and takeoffs can be tricky, particularly on a rough field. However, if you can fly a Harvard, a Spitfire is a piece of cake. A Spitfire pilot can grin so hard, the top of his head will fall off. I now know - it hurts!

On Sunday, November 04, 2001 9:24 PM the following message was sent, but no reaction obtained:

Dear Sir,
I'm a collector of Dinky Toys and maintain a website containing my collection.
Searching for pictures of reals (in this case for 719-G), I found the Supermarine Spitfire story on your site
Can you please allow me to use (part of ) it linked with/inside my collection?
Of course I'll identify the source
Christiaan Boland,