Spitfire Mk. I
"Stellen Sie sich die Situation in jenen bewegten Sommermonaten im Jahre 1940 vor, als britische Piloten auf die berühmten Rufe ‚Tally-Ho‘ und ‚Angels One Five‘ antworten und abheben, um einen weiteren Angriff der Luftwaffenbomber abzufangen. Das Dröhnen der Motoren füllt den Himmel, und Englands Überleben steht auf dem Spiel, als eine deutsche Fliegerstaffel nach der anderen versucht, den Luftwiderstand der Spitfires und Hurricanes zu brechen."
Die Spitfire ist wahrscheinlich das berühmteste aller britischen Kampfflugzeuge, und ihre Rolle bei der Entscheidung der Luftschlacht um England sicherte ihr einen nie verblassenden Ruhm. Piloten flogen bis ihnen der Kraftstoff und die Munition ausgingen. Die gemeinsamen Luftkämpfe, die für die Schlacht so typisch waren, brachten tragische Verluste.
Winston Churchill fasste die immense Bedeutung des Ereignisses mit folgenden unvergesslichen Worten zusammen: "Noch nie im Bereich menschlicher Auseinandersetzung schuldeten so viele so wenigen so viel". Insgesamt wurden über 20 000 Spitfires ausgeliefert, die auf der ganzen Welt den Kampf so lange führten, bis den Alliierten 1945 der Sieg beschieden war. Die elegante Form der Spitfires begeistert auch heute noch bei Air Shows die Zuschauer.
No. 234 Squadron, R.A.F. Middle Wallop,
Antrieb: Ein 1030 PS Rolls-Royce-Merlin
III-12 Zylinder Motor
Waffenbestückung: Acht 0.303-Zoll Browning Maschinengewehre in den Flügeln. Sie waren den Kanonen der Bf 109 weit unterlegen. Während das Geschoss der Kanonen explosiv war, so dass ein Treffer normalerweise einen Abschuss bedeutete, waren bei den Maschinengewehren zahllose Kugeln nötig, um ein Flugzeug abzuschießen.
Tarnung: Alle Spifires trugen auf ihrer Oberseite die dunkle grünlich-braune Tarnung, die vor dem Krieg eingeführt worden war. Die vormals schwarz-weiße Unterseite wurde im Verlauf des Krieges in taubenblau umgewandelt.
Anmerkungen: der Prototyp der Spitfire wurde von R. J. Mitchell entworfen, führte seinen Jungfernflug am 5. März 1936 durch und trat im Juli 1938 in den Dienst der R.A.F. ein. Bei Ausbruch des Krieges am 3. September 1939 verfügten 9 Geschwader über Spitfires des Typs I und als die Luftschlacht um England im Juli 1940 begann waren es bereits 19 Geschwader. Als nach dem Krieg die Produktion eingestellt wurde, waren über 20 000 Spitfires aller Typen gebaut worden.
Manövrierbarkeit: Die Spitfire war der Bf 109 in allen Geschwindigkeits- und Höhenbereichen überlegen; ab 20000 Fuß aufwärts ließ sie die Bf 109, vorallem aufgrund der wesentlich geringeren Tragflächenlast weit hinter sich.
The History of the Spitfire Development
In mid 1934 the Air Ministry released its requirement for an eight-gunned fighter to replace all the other fighters in service. It would reach over 275 mph and have an excellent rate of climb. The pilot would be seated in an enclosed cockpit which would house radio equipment and an oxygen supply that would enable the aircraft to fly at amazing heights. If it took too long for the aircraft to evolve, then the top speed would have to be at least 300 mph, or even 350 mph.
In July 1934 Reginald Mitchell announced that he had been working on a new fighter design incorporating both the Schneider trophy winning aircraft and the type 224, another design that Mitchell had been working on. By chance this design had an enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage, and did away with the gull-wings. This new aircraft was designed to house the new Rolls Royce PV12 engine, later to be known as the Merlin. Mitchell claimed that his aircrft would fly by early 1935 and reach 265 mph. The Air Ministry turned these designs away because they required eight guns whereas Mitchell's aircraft only held four guns. Fitting these guns posed a major problem because for a wing to hold eight guns it would have to be thicker, similar to the new Hawker Hurricane aircraft; but this meant increasing the aircraft's drag.
On 6th November 1934, Vickers gave the go ahead for the construction of a company-funded prototype, the type 300. In December that year, the Air Ministry reviewed the design and allocated £10,000 for what they designated the F37/34.
The wooden mock-up of the, as yet, unnamed aircraft followed in April 1935 and was viewed by the Air Ministry staff who said to Mitchell that his fighter would perform as well as any other fighter for the 1940's that they had seen, but it needed to have eight guns. It was discovered that by building an elliptical wing, the aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft were improved and it allowed eight guns to be fitted in the wings, four in each.
The thin wings, small head-on fuselage section and extra attention to streamlining all came together to produce a most elegant and fast fighter aircraft. It was hoped that the prototype would fly in October 1935, but it was the competing Hurricane that flew first. The unpainted Supermarine Type F37/34 did not fly until March 1936. Although some reports say that the prototype first flew on the 6th March, it was in fact on the 5th of the month that the aircraft, built at Woolston and assembled at Eastleigh Airport, took to the air under the watchful eye of the designer, Supermarine staff, and an interested group of civil flying school pupils. The pilot, Mutt Summers, flew the aircraft, still unnamed but now registered as K5054, around the airfield checking the flaps and flying characteristics of the plane. The undercarriage was not retracted during this maiden flight. After only a few minutes K5054 landed and Summers announced to the anxious spectators that all was fine and that he did not want anything touched.
After this historic first flight, Mutt Summers made three or four more test flights. The aircraft was then returned to the workshops to be repainted high-gloss blue/grey. On the 27th March 1936 test pilot Jeffrey Quill flew K5054 to set accurate performance figures of 335 mph at 17,000 feet. This proved disappointing compared to Mitchell's estimated 350 mph. Supermarine had already been working on a new propeller with modified tips. This was fitted later on 27th March and Quill took the aircraft up again this time achieving 348 mph. This satisfied Mitchell and so the aircraft went to Martlesham Heath (near Ipswich) for RAF trials on the 26th May 1936, flown by Mutt Summers.
Only seven days later on 3rd June 1936, before any test reports had reached the Air Ministry, the Royal Air Force placed a production order for 310 Supermarine Spitfires.
But from where did the name "Spitfire" originate? During the designing and building stages of the type 224, Supermarine were dreaming up names for the finished aircraft. At that time Sir Robert McClean, the chairman of Vickers (Aviation) Ltd., decided that the name should suggest something venomous and because Supermarine began with an S he decided that so too should the fighter's name. Out of a host of probable names, such as the Shrike and the Shrew, came the name Spitfire and although Mitchell was not too impressed with this, the Air Ministry and Sir Robert both agreed on the name.
Just after a year since the prototype, K5054, flew and when large orders for the Spitfire were coming in, R.J. Mitchell died after a long fight to beat his cancer. His assistant, Mr. Joseph Smith, took control of the design office at Supermarine and continued to design all the future Spitfire marks including the work on the Supermarine Spiteful aircraft that incorporated a large amount of the original Spitfire design.
On the 4th August 1938, only one year before the Second World War, the first production Mk I Spitfire, K9789, was delivered to 19 Sqn Royal Air Force at Duxford. Within twelve days the second aircraft was delivered and by May 1939 the squadron had a full compliment of sixteen Spitfires and was fully operational.
By the 19th August 1939 the following units had received their Spitfire Mk I's and were also operational:
Reproduced from: http://www.spitfiresociety.demon.co.uk/spitdev.htm
Spitfire-Museum.com is the official Internet site for the
Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial at RAF Manston in Kent. It has links
to pages giving information about the Memorial, its major exhibits and
the closely related RAF Manston History Club. The Memorial and this Web site are dedicated to the pilots and
aircrew who gave so much to preserve freedom in the dark days of World
War II. It is available for everyone who wishes to maintain the memory
of their sacrifice. Any individual or organisation with a similar interest can list their
web pages here and so communicate with like-minded groups. We welcome any comments about these pages or the Memorial
you have suggestions for additions or would like to add a link to your
own pages please follow the link below. If you are just visiting please
leave your name in our guestbook. We hope you enjoy your visit to Spitfire-Museum.com
Spitfire-Museum.com is the official Internet site for the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial at RAF Manston in Kent. It has links to pages giving information about the Memorial, its major exhibits and the closely related RAF Manston History Club.
The Memorial and this Web site are dedicated to the pilots and aircrew who gave so much to preserve freedom in the dark days of World War II. It is available for everyone who wishes to maintain the memory of their sacrifice.
Any individual or organisation with a similar interest can list their web pages here and so communicate with like-minded groups.
We welcome any comments about these pages or the Memorial itself. If you have suggestions for additions or would like to add a link to your own pages please follow the link below. If you are just visiting please leave your name in our guestbook.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Spitfire-Museum.com
The profile drawing above is reproduced, with thanks, from
'Brtish Warplanes of World War II' by Daniel J. March (Grange Books, 2000)
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'Spitfire Odyssey: My Life At Supermarines
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'Supermarine Aircraft Since 1914'
'The Spitfire Story'
'Spitfire At War'
'Spitfire At War: 2'
'Spitfire At War: 3'
'Spitfire: The History'
'Spitfire IIA & IIB Pilot's Notes (Merlin XII)'
'Spitfire Mark I/II Aces 1939-41 (Osprey
Aircraft Of The Aces - 12)'
'Wings of Fame Volume 5'
'The Supermarine Spitfire Part 1: Merlin
Powered (Modellers Datafile 3)'
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