Monday, March 9, 2015

Supermarine Spitfire I

The origins of the Spitfire can be traced back to the S-series of racing seaplanes designed by Mitchell in the 1920's for the Schneider Cup races. On September 13, 1931 Mitchell won the coveted trophy hands down with the Supermarine S.6B with a speed of 339.82 mph.

The Spitfire was to the RAF what the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was to the Luftwaffe, becoming the very symbol of their nation's air power. Both were exceptional fighters with performance unmatched by any other aircraft of the time. In fact, it was the threat of one which spurred on the continued development of the other. The Spitfire's development mirrored that of the Bf 109 and Fw 190 so closely, it became a constant race to gain a margin of superiority over the other.

Without doubt the best known British aircraft of World War II, the Supermarine Spitfire originated from the Type 224 designed by R. J. Mitchell to meet the requirements of Specification F.7/30, A cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, it had an inverted-gull wing and 'trousered' fixed main landing gear, and was powered by a 600 hp (447 kW) Rolls-Royce Goshawk II Vee engine. When the Type 224 was tested its performance proved disappointing, and it was no more successful than any of the other submissions to this specification; none of them gained an Air Ministry contract.

Given a free hand to design a new single-seat fighter unfettered by official specifications, Mitchell outlined on his drawing board the delightful Type 300. Smaller, sleeker and with drag-reducing retractable landing gear, it was tailored around the new Rolls-Royce P.V.12 (Merlin) engine; the wings were not only of distinctive elliptical shape, but they housed eight machine guns, all of them firing outside the propeller disc. Air Ministry Specification F.36/34 was drawn up around the Type 300 and a prototype was ordered. This (K5054) was powered by a 900 hp (738 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 'C' and flew for the first time on 5 March 1936. Comparatively little flight testing was needed to confirm it as a winner, and its superb handling qualities and performance resulted in a first contract (for 310 Spitfire Mk I aircraft) being awarded on 3 June 1936. However, planned mass production was slow to gain momentum and it was not until July 1938 that the first Spitfire Mk 1 reached No. 19 Squadron at Duxford; only five had been delivered by the time of the Munich crisis in September of that year, but the trickle was eventually to become a flood that totalled 20,334 Spitfires and 2,556 related new build Seafire naval fighters. A degree of muiti-role capability was to result from the development of low-altitude clipped wings (prefix LF), and high-altitude increased-span wings (HF), the standard wing being identified as (F), and with variations of armament within these wings comprising eight machine guns (suffix A), two cannon and four machine guns (B), four cannon (C) and two cannon, two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine-guns and up to 1,000 lbs (454 kg) of bombs (E).

By the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939, the RAF had nine operational Spitfire squadrons, and on 16 October 1939 a Spitfire of No. 603 Squadron claimed the first German aircraft to be destroyed over the UK in World War II, a Heinkel He 111 . By August 1940, shortly before the Battle of Britain reached its climax, RAF Fighter Command could call upon 19 Spitfire Mk I squadrons. By December 1940 Spitfire Mk lIs were carrying out 'Rhubarb' sweeps over occupied Europe, and the first to serve overseas were Spitfire Mk VBs flown to Malta from HMS Eagle on 7 March 1942.

Squadron Leader A. C. Deere DFC and Bar A New Zealander who joined the RAF in 1937. In just four months from May till August 1940 he destroyed 17 enemy aircraft. His life as a pilot took began to take a very unusual twist the adventures became somewhat bizarre. Some of the more unusual incidents were, he followed a Dornier from Dunkirk to Ousted, both himself and the Dornier crash – landed, ”Deere” was knocked unconscious and his machine began to burn. He managed to escape half-conscious when his plane exploded. He was involved in a midair collision two days later with a ME-109.the two pilots thought each other would give way. The collision caused the propeller on his plane to snap off on impact, the engine partially tore itself from its mounts, blinded by smoke and flames he managed to glide over the English country side and crash landed onto a field but, collided with a concrete invasion post, ripping off a wing and finally burnt up. A few weeks later after shooting down a Heinkel he was jumped by numerous German fighters, a bullet ripped the watch from his wrist another grazed his eyebrow. His aircraft was now full of holes and beginning to fall apart, he baled out and his parachute opened precariously close to the ground, but he was back flying again the next day.

He had to bail out of his airplane three times, was shot down seven times, while flying with a pupil the pupil collided with “ Deere” and literally cut his plane in half. Waiting in his airplane to take off from his airfield, while the Germans were bombing it, a bomb exploded in front of him blowing the motor out of his airplane and sending his plane hurtling for 150 yds upside down with ”Deere” in it. After being helped from the wreckage he was put to bed, the next day the bombing began again, he rushed out of bed to his airplane and managed to get airborne and proceeded to shoot down another Dornier.

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