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The Vickers Supermarine Spitfire

Discussion in 'The Spitfire' started by Jim, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Spitfire-The World's Finest Fighter
    In all the annals of aerial warfare no finer fighter aeroplane ever existed than the Supermarine Spitfire. Here Mr Grenville Manton describes their capacities in October 1940.


    The unremitting havoc the Spitfires and their pilots have poured into the enemy, the terrible toll they have taken of Messerschmitts, Heinkels and Dornier’s in a few brief but breathless months, have aroused the admiration of the civilized world. And a fearful respect is held by Nazi airmen for that sleek, pugnacious monoplane. Yet though no German fighter can compare with the Spitfire it is not a recently evolved machine, but something of a veteran. Back in 1936 the prototype powered with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine of 1,030 hp. first appeared. Its designer was the late Mr R J Mitchell, whose brilliance and genius resulted in those wonderful Schneider Trophy racing seaplanes, the S.5 and S.6. In a way the Spitfire is a descendant of those machines and its success is a legacy of the triumphs of its predecessors which were built specially for the Schneider contests thirteen years ago. In its design and appearance the Spitfire is perfectly orthodox. There is nothing freakish or unusual about it. It looks what it is, a beautifully proportioned, clean-lined monoplane. It is of stressed skin construction with a cantilever wing covered with alloy sheet. The tail unit, too, is cantilever, and with the exception of the rudder and elevators, which are covered with fabric, the covering is of aluminium alloy sheet. The fuselage is built of metal, the framework being covered with an alloy skin which is attached with flush rivets to give a completely smooth surface. As on all modern fighting planes, the undercarriage is of the retractable type, the wheels and legs being tucked away into the underside of the wings when the machine is in flight. The retraction is controlled by an hydraulic system and there is also an emergency hand device. Housed in the Spitfire's forbidding nose is its Rolls-Royce Merlin 12-cylinder Vee liquid cooled engine of 1,250 hp. The radiator is of special design and is housed in a duct beneath the starboard wing. The motor drives a Rotol three blade controllable pitch airscrew, the hub of which is fitted with a spinner. In front of the pilot are two petrol tanks, which together hold 85 gallons.


    It Fires Over 20 Rounds a Second

    The fuel is fed to the engine by pumps, and starting is effected by an electric starter and a manually operated turning gear. The pilot sits in an enclosed cockpit, which is fitted with a sliding glass batch and a hinged panel in the side of the fuselage. The wind shield fixed to the front of the cockpit is fitted with bullet-proof glass and there is a "fire-wall" arranged immediately behind the engine. The armament of the Spitfire comprises eight machine-guns, all located in the wings, four on each side of the fuselage. These guns, which, with a rate of fire of 1,300 rounds per minute, are capable of producing a most shattering effect on enemy machines, are Brownings. They work on the barrel recoil principle, and because they are mounted outside the propeller arc, they can be fired at maximum speed. This is not possible with guns which fire through the propeller, as they have to be synchronised in order to, avoid certain inevitable damage to the blades by bullets. In the equipment of the Spitfire a lot is squeezed into a little space. Besides having the full complement of normal flying and blind-flying instruments it carries a radio set, oxygen equipment for high altitude flying, a first-aid outfit, parachute flares and landing lights for night operations. When, in July, 1938, the first batch of Spitfires was delivered to a fighter squadron, a new milestone was reached in the history of the Royal Air Force. It marked the extinction of the trusty and well-tried biplane fighter and opened up fresh developments in aerial warfare. When it was first introduced, though everyone was impressed by its tremendous speed; there were doubts expressed as to its suitability for service as a standard fighter. It was suggested that its immensely high speed would make it difficult to manoeuvre in combat, that it would be ineffective in "dog-fights" because it would be unable to twist and turn nimbly. Pilots, it was thought, would find it difficult and tricky to fly. But months of war have proved all these contentions to be wrong. The Spitfire is easy and pleasant to fly, and it is used at night as well as by day. And, as has been proved again and again in the fighting over England, it has superlative qualities as a fighting machine. The Germans know this well, as many who have been shot down have revealed in explaining their defeat by such wards as "Spitfire…too. good" As time has passed modifications have been made to the machine, each one adding to its speed and fighting power. At first, when it was fitted with a two-blade fixed pitch wooden airscrew, its speed was 362 m.p.h at 18,500 feet. Then by using a de Havilland controllable pitch airscrew the speed was raised to 367 m.p.h. Changes were then made to the engine, a new fuel was employed, the Rotol airscrew was adopted, and the speed rose to 387 m.p.h. Experts, ever striving for further improvements, have lately made it faster and more formidable than ever. And so the Spitfire remains, after four years, the swiftest and most deadly fighting aeroplane of the war against Hitler. Its companion, the Hurricane, is equally remarkable in its own field and it has received much less than it’s due from the public. This is partly because of the attention focussed on the somewhat faster Spitfire by the funds raised for it all over the country and Empire.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Vickers Supermarine Spitfire was first produced in 1936, and after prolonged trials was supplied to the Royal Air Force in July, 1938. Originally it was designed as a four-gun fighter, but the specification was altered to include eight guns. An aeroplane with outstanding Qualities as a fighting machine it was rivalled only by the equally famous Hawker Hurricane which was powered with the same engine and was equally armed. A special version of the Spitfire was built in 1938 in order to attack the worlds speed record, and it attained a speed of 420 mph


    Span 36ft 10 inches
    Height 11 feet 5 inches.
    Length 29ft 11 inches
    Weight loaded 5,850 lb.
    Wing area 240 sq. feet.
    Engine power 1,030 h,p.
    Initial rate of climb 2.300 feet a minute.

    [​IMG]

    In this part-sectioned illustration all the salient features of the spitfire single-seater fighter are shown. Note how the Rolls-Royce “Merlin” engine is slung in a steel tube mounting in the front fuselage. The cooling radiator is housed in the starboard wing. The oil tank, which can be seen under the engine, holds 5 gallons, and is shaped to form part of the body contour. In the wings, eight Browning machine-guns are housed, and the apertures seen in the leading edge of the wings show how they are spaced. The fuselage is all-metal and the transverse frames and- main longerons seen are covered with a light alloy skin. The two petrol tanks are installed in front of the pilot.

    Drawing by Max Millar “Flight”
     
  3. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    Spitfire

    Great find Jim. What an aircraft!

    That hanger at RAF Coningsby has Spitfires. and when they took around ( We were on a Company business visit ) they showed us the Spitfire engine. It looked so small compared to the military jet engines we were dealing with at work.

    They told us that when ex-Spit pilots came to visit, they said flying the Spit ( compared to other aircraft) was like driving a top sports car compared to a family saloon. They loved it!
     

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