The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the best loved and widely recognised British aircraft of all time. It was designed by Reginald J Mitchell, who also designed the Supermarine S-series racing seaplanes which secured the Schneider Trophy after competition wins in 1927, 1929 and 1931.
The prototype Spitfire, K5054, first flew on 5 March 1936 powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin, the last of Sir Henry Royce’s engine concepts before his death. Delivery of the first production Mk1 Spitfires into RAF squadron service took place from July 1938. The Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane with their Merlin engines achieved lasting fame during the Battle of Britain in 1940.
By the time production ceased, more than 22,000 Spitfires and Seafires (naval versions of the Spitfire) were built. Merlin engine developments brought the aircraft better performance, but the last marks of Spitfire used the larger, more powerful Griffon engine. A total of 48 variants were made during the development and production of the aircraft over 10 years. They served in every combat theatre, operating as fighters, fighter-bombers, and reconnaissance aircraft as well as the Seafires which operated from aircraft carriers. It was the only allied fighter to remain in full production and front-line RAF service both prior to and after World War Two. The Spitfire also served in 28 other air forces across the world.
R. J. Mitchell
Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, was an English aeronautical engineer, who worked for Supermarine Aviation. Between 1920 and 1936.
He designed the Supermarine Spitfire World War II British fighter aircraft of ‘Battle of Britain’ 1940 fame. And, possibly, almost for certain; the best designed, most maneuverable and the most effective aerial dog-fighting World War II fighter aircraft of the entire 1939 -’45 Second World War.
Born: May 20, 1895, Butt Lane, Talke in the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme in north Staffordshire, England – U.K.
Died: June 11, 1937, Portswood, Southampton
Spouse: Florence Dayson (m. 1918)
Education: Hanley High School
Aircraft designed: Supermarine Spitfire, Supermarine S.6B
Children: Gordon Mitchell