All of the greatest man-made inventions have stood the test of time. They remain living testaments to the evolutionary process and creative innovation of some of the brightest minds throughout history. While many of these are taken for granted in today’s world, blending in as just as part of ordinary life, some continue to stand out and be honored for years beyond their first introduction to society.
The Supermarine Spitfire aircraft is one of those time-honored creations. It repeatedly has its story retold, and not just through the eyes of wartime vets sharing memories. The Spitfire has become its own legend, and it continues to be reborn, from history books all over the world and even to the screen in Hollywood.
The History of the Supermarine Spitfire
The Spitfire aircraft is a British, single-seat fighter plane. It was a major player in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and other Allied countries before, during, and after the years surrounding WWII. It has many different variations with multiple wing configuration and was mass-produced in Britain during wartime.
It has even proven to be popular among enthusiasts, with up to 55 Spitfires still taking to the skies today. Beyond those, many are standing as exhibits in various aviation museums around the world.
The original Spitfire concept was designed by R.J. Mitchell, as a short-range, high-performance interceptor plane. The development of its special elliptical wing allowed for improvements in the cross-section, allowing the Spitfire to gain a higher top-speed than any other aircraft at the time, even beyond the exceptional Hawker Hurricane model.
Up until his death in 1937, Mitchell continued to sharpen his original designs. Not willing to leave behind such a promising model, Mitchell’s colleague Joseph Smith carried on with the plans for its inception. He would be the main overseer of its design all the way through even in its most difficult of variations.
From July to October 1940, when the Battle of Britain commenced between the RAF and the Nazi German air force known as the Luftwaffe, the Spitfire was considered the main fighter plane, despite the heavier use of the Hawker Hurricane models overall.
However, the Spitfire’s victory-to-loss ratio was far greater due to its enhanced features measuring out to higher performance. Therefore, the Spitfires were better at luring the Luftwaffe fighters in, while the Hurricanes were prepared to hold steady and attack from the rear.
There are 55 Spitfire aircraft still in good enough condition to head up into the clouds today, but many are now on display in various museums.
For instance, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry has at their disposal a static Spitfire with another Spitfire dive-bomber. One of the oldest surviving Spitfire models, the Mark 1, is currently being preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in England.
It flew for a year in June 1940 before it took some damage; after that, it became mostly usable for training procedures. However, it became one of the Battle of Britain veterans, earning it a seat in future museum preservation.
Fantasy of Flight, an aviation attraction for tourists in Polk City, Florida has what is probably the one Spitfire restored with most of its original parts. It’s still in airworthy condition due to a six-year renovation in the 1990s at England’s Personal Plane Services. It has all of the machine guns, cannons, gun sights and working radios installed that it did at its inception.
This wonderful piece of history is for sale for a cool $2.5 million and Platinum Fighters is the world premier warbird broker. Here are the details:
Manufacturer: Vickers – Supermarine
Restored by: Historic Flying – 1992
Engine: Rolls Royce Griffon 65
Hours Since Overhaul: 0 – by Vintage V12
Spare Engine (Griffon 65) with 120 SMOH
Manufacturer: Dowty Rotol Ltd. / Hoffmann Blades
Model: R19/5F5/1 – 5 blade
Time Since Overhaul: 0
Radios: 2x Becker AR 4201
Transponder: Garmin GTX 330
Encoder: ACK A30
ELT: Kannad 406 AF Comp.
Quality – 8 / 10: Original Paint from 1993
Color: Green – per original
Quality – 8 /10
Location: Germany and you can see all the images at Platinum Fighters
SPECIFICATIONS SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION UPON INSPECTION