Vickers Supermarine
Spitfire Mk V

Das bekannteste britische Flugzeug des Zweiten Weltkrieges hatte hervorragende Flugeigenschaften und Leistungen. Die ersten Serienmaschinen wurden im Juli 1938 ausgeliefert. Der Rolls Royce Merlin-Motor leistete 1470 PS
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 594 km/h

Supermarine Spitfire Mk LF Vb


             Spitfire Mk Vb - Tamiya                                             Mit ein Spitfire in Hilzingen
                                                                                              bei Singen (1998)

Nick Gray´s Duxford Spitfire in Hilzingen

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V: Third major production version, combining Mk I/II airframe features with 1,185 hp Merlin 45 single-stage single-speed engine. Prototype installation in a Mk I first flown December 1940 and 154 Mk I and Mk II conversions made in 1941. First production Mk V (Supermarine Type 331) flown from CBAF in June 1941 and production totalled 4,489 at that factory, 1,363 by Supermarine and 635 by Westland. In addition, some 200 Mk I/II convened to Mk V standard. Service use began mid-May with No 92 Sqn. Production included 94 Supermarine Spitfire VA with eight-gun armament, 3,911 Supermarine Spitfire VB with two-cannon/four-mg armament, and 2,467 Supermarine Spitfire VC introducing new wing (Supermarine Type 349) in late 1941 that could carry four cannon without mgs, or two-cannon/four mg arrangement as Mk VB. Total production also included 15 photo-recce Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk V (see separate entry for photo-recce Supermarine Spitfires). For service in Middle and, later, Far East, tropical versions introduced large Vokes dust filter over carburettor air intake under nose, or small filter developed and fitted at Aboukir in Egypt. To extend range, Supermarine Spitfire Vs (and later marks) carried flush-fitting belly tanks of 30- or 45-Imp gal (136- or 205-1) capacity on regular operations, 90-Imp gal (409-1) for special ferry flights or 170-Imp gal (773-1) version used by 17 aircraft flown from Gibraltar to Malta in late 1942. From end-1942, 'fighter' role prefix resulted in Supermarine Spitfire F Mk VA, F Mk VB and F Mk VC designations, using Merlin 45, 46, 50, 50A, 55 or 56 medium-altitude engines. For lower altitude operations, Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk VB used Merlin 45M, 50M or 55M, with cropped supercharger impellers and combat boost rating of 1,585 hp. Many Supermarine Spitfire Vs had wing tips removed ('clipped'), reducing span to 32 ft 2 in (9.80 m). Starting 1942, Supermarine Spitfire Vs were adapted to carry one 250-lb (113-kg) bomb under each wing, or one 500-lb (227-kg) bomb under fuselage in place of long-range tank. Some aircraft were fitted with hooks to tow Hotspur gliders at training schools. One radio-controlled drone version was tested in 1944, and one captured Mk VB was fitted in Germany with 1,475 hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A.

Spitfire Mk Vc (with Vokes tropical filter) flown by Squadron Leader E. Gibbs of 54 Squadron RAAF, based at Darwin in early 1943

Mk Vc - 54 Sqr.

In Egypt, two Supermarine Spitfire VCs fitted with extended wing-tips, boosted Merlin 46s and four-blade propellers operated up to 50,000 ft (15,240 m) to intercept Ju 86P-2s. Supermarine Spitfire Vs operated in Europe and Middle East by RAF, RCAF, RNZAF and RAAF squadrons from 1941 onwards; in India/Burma from late 1943, and in Australia, where 245 Supermarine Spitfire VCs and one VB were transferred from RAF to RAAF in 1942-43 (plus 11 lost en route). Starting late-1942, ten squadrons of the SAAF flew Supermarine Spitfire Vs (and/or Mk IXs) in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, including No 40 Sqn operating in the 'Tac R' role for which Supermarine Spitfires carried an oblique camera just behind the cockpit. From mid-1942, some 600 Supermarine Spitfires (mostly Mk Vs) supplied to USAAF units flying in the UK and North Africa on 'reverse lend-lease' basis, retaining RAF serials. Two (or more) Mk VAs to USA in 1941 for evaluation. Supply of Supermarine Spitfires to Soviet Union began early-1943 with transfer of 143 Mk VBs; in late-1943 the RAF released 33 Mk VBs to Portugal. One squadron of the R Egyptian AF was equipped with Supermarine Spitfire. VCs


Inearly 1942 RAF fighters first encountered the Focke-Wulf 190 in numbers, and it became evident that the formidable German fighter was overwhelmingly superior in performance to the then current variant of Spitfire, the Mk VB. The Mark IX Spitfire was developed as an emergency response to this crisis.

Theaccount below is taken from the comparative trial of the Spitfire VB with the [captured] Focke-Wulf 190, flown by the Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford in July 1942. 
TheFW190 was compared with a Spitfire VB from an operational squadron, for speed and all-round manoeuvrability at heights up to 25,000 feet.
The FW 190 is superior in speed at all heights, and the approximate differences are as follows:

At 1,000 ft the FW 190 is 25-30 mph faster than the Spitfire VB
At 3,000 ft the FW 190 is 30-35 mph faster than the Spitfire VB 
At 5,000 ft the FW 190 is 25 mph faster than the Spitfire VB
At 9,000 ft the FW 190 is 25-30 mph faster than the Spitfire VB
At 15,000 ft the FW 190 is 20 mph faster than the Spitfire VB
At 18,000 ft the FW 190 is 20 mph faster than the Spitfire VB
At 21,000 ft the FW 190 is 20-25 mph faster than the Spitfire VB

Climb:The climb of the FW 190 is superior to that of the Spitfire VB at all heights. 

The best speeds for climbing are approximately the same, but the angle of the FW 190 is considerably steeper. Under maximum continuous climbing conditions the climb of the FW 190 is about 450 ft/min better up to 25,000'. With both aircraft flying at high cruising speed and then pulling up into a climb, the superior climb of the FW 190 is even more marked.  When both aircraft are pulled up into a climb from a dive, the FW 190 draws away very rapidly and the pilot of the Spitfire has no hope of catching it.

Dive: Comparative dives between the two aircraft have shown that the FW 190 can leave the Spitfire with ease, particularly during the initial stages.

Manoeuvrability. The manoeuvrability of the FW 190 is better than that of the Spitfire VB except in turning circles, when the Spitfire can quite easily out-turn it. The FW 190 has better acceleration under all conditions
of flight and this must obviously be most useful during combat.

When the FW 190 was in a turn and was attacked by the Spitfire, the superior rate of roll enabled it to flick into a diving turn in the opposite direction. The pilot of the Spitfire found great difficulty in following this manoeuvre and even when prepared for it, was seldom able to allow the correct deflection. A dive from this manoeuvre enabled the FW 190 to draw away from the Spitfire which was then forced to break off the attack.

Several flights were carried out to ascertain the best evasive manoeuvres to adopt if 'bounced'. It was found that if the Spitfire was cruising at low speed and was 'bounced' by the FW 190, it was easily caught even if the FW 190 was sighted when well out of range, and the Spitfire was then forced to take avoiding action by using its superiority in turning circles. If on the other hand the Spitfire was flying at maximum continuous cruising and was 'bounced' under the same conditions, it had a reasonable chance of avoiding being caught by opening the throttle and going into a shallow dive, providing the FW 190 was seen in time. This forced the FW 190 into a stern chase,  and although it eventually caught the Spitfire, it took some time and as a result was drawn a considerable distance away from its base. This is a particularly useful method of evasion for the Spitfire if it is 'bounced' when returning from a sweep. This manoeuvre has been carried out during recent operations and has been successful on several occasions.
Ifthe Spitfire VB is 'bounced' it is thought unwise to evade by diving steeply, as the FW 190 will have little difficulty in catching up owing to its superiority in the dive.

The above trials have shown that the Spitfire VB must cruise at high speed when in an area where enemy fighters can be expected. It will then, in addition to lessening the chances of being successfully 'bounced', have a better chance of catching the FW 190,  particularly if it has the advantage of surprise.


Supermarine Spitfire LF V c


more about Spitfire MK Vc

Following the Battle of Britain in 1940, the Royal Air Force (RAF) had planned to replace its Spitfire Mk. I and II fighters with the Mk. III, which had been under development for two years. The Mk. III included significant improvements such as an improved wing design, a retractable tail wheel, and a new Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine.

Before the RAF could put the Mk. III into production, however, the Germans introduced the improved Messerschmitt Bf 109F. Since this new German fighter greatly outperformed the current Spitfires at high altitude, the RAF could not wait for the factories to be retooled for the Mk. III, and they hurriedly developed an interim aircraft, the Sptifire Mk. V (the Mk. IV designation had already been assigned to another version).

Essentially, the Mk. V consisted of a modified Mk. II airframe with a new Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine (a Merlin XX modified to ease production and improve high altitude performance). Initially, the wing remained unchanged, but three different types emerged depending on the armament. With the suffix letter indicating the type of wing, the Mk. Va had eight Browning .303 machine guns, and the Mk. Vb had two Hispano 20 mm cannon and four machine guns. The Spitfire Mk. Vc introduced the "universal" wing which enabled this variant to be fitted with various combinations of armament, including four 20 mm. cannon and four .303 machine guns.

Most Spitfire Mk. Vc fighters had the B version armament with the outer cannon positions being covered, but the C wing carried 120 rounds for each cannon versus only 60 for each cannon on the B wing. The universal wing also used a strengthened landing gear that had been moved two inched forward to correct the Spitfire's tendency to nose over on its propeller. In addition, the Spitfire Mk. Vb and Mk. Vc could carry two 250-LB bombs or one 500-LB bomb.

Unwilling to wait while the Mk. V went into hurried production, the RAF quickly converted more than 100 Spitfire Mk. I aircraft into the Mk. V version. These converted aircraft started arriving at the combat units in March 1941. In addition to these converted aircraft, a total of 6,464 Spitfire Mk. Vs were built between 1941 and 1943.

Spitfire Mk Vc in service with 107 Squadron 67 Recce Group US Army Air Force at Membury, England in 1943 - reproduced with thanks from 'The Complete Book of Fighters' Green & Swanborough (Greenwich Editions)

Fighting on every front during the war, these Mk. Vs equipped more than 140 RAF squadrons, including the "Eagle" Squadrons composed of American volunteers flying for the RAF. Nine other Allied nations, including the United States, flew Mk. Vs. The United States Army Air Forces' (USAAF) 31st and 52d Fighter Groups flew them first during Operation TORCH, the invasion of North Africa in November 1942. Some of the American pilots removed one machine gun from each wing to lessen weight and thereby improve maneuverability. Also, to protect the engine in the desert climate, the RAF tropicalized (Trop) the Spitfire Mk. Vs by adding either a Vokes or a smaller Aboukir air filter to the aircraft.

Originally, the Spitfire had been designed as a short-range home-defense fighter, but by 1941, the RAF had begun offensive operations over Nazi-occupied Europe. To extend the Mk. Vs range, the RAF adopted 30- and 9-gallon jettisonable fuel tanks which fit flush under the fuselage. Also, as the war progressed and fewer enemy fighters were encountered, the Spitfires began flying ground strafing missions. To improve the low-altitude characteristics, most Spitfire Mk. V's had their wingtips removed. Categorized as low-altitude fighters, these aircraft carried the prefix of "L.F." (i.e. Spitfire L.F. Mk. Vc).

Suggested Reading:
Philip D. Caine, American Pilots in the RAF
Vern Haugland, The Eagles' War

The Museum's Aircraft
The aircraft on display is a Spitfire Mk. Vc (Trop - see bellow) built for Supermarine under license by Vickers-Armstrong in June 1943. Shipped to Australia in September 1943, it served with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This aircraft is temporarily replacing the
Hawker "Hurricane" that is normally displayed with the Battle of Britain Dispersal Hut. It is painted in the Standard RAF camouflage scheme for northern Europe to represent an aircraft flown by Americans with the RAF Eagle Squadrons. Our Hurricane has been removed from display to undergo final restoration, and it will be returned to this display in time for the opening of our third building. At that time, this Spitfire will be repainted to represent one flying with the USAAF in North Africa in 1943 and will take its place in the greatly expanded World War II gallery.

Tropicalised Spitfire Vc JK226 built at Castle Bromwich - assigned to 308th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group of the 12th Air Force USAAF in Tunisia, 1943 - reproduced with thanks from Bill Gunston 'British Fighters of World War II' (Hamlyn/Aerospace)

Span: 36 ft. 10 in. (32 ft. 7 in. in L.F. version)
Length: 29 ft. 11 in.
Height: 11 ft. 4.75 in.
Weight: 6,785 lbs. maximum takeoff
Armament: Normally two Hispano 20 mm cannon (120 rounds per gun) and four Browning .303 machine guns (350 rounds per gun). Some with four Hispano 20 mm. cannon
Bomb load: two 250-lb. bombs or one 500-lb. bomb
Engine: One twelve-cylinder, liquid-cooled
Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 of 1,470 hp.
Crew: One

Maximum speed: 374 mph. at 13,000 ft.
Service Ceiling: 37,000 ft.