Continual Development

The Spitfire was continually developed as the war went on. From the addition of 20mm Hispano cannon to provide more firepower, clipped wings on some variants to improve roll rate at lower level and finally more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engines towards the end of the war, the Spitfire continually evolved. A few of the more famous Spitfires include:

Spitfire MkI

Spitfire MkI

The MkI Spitfire saw England through the Battle of Britain and remains one of the most famous Spitfire variants to this day. Luckily for us, some of these are still in flying condition. The Mk1 was very similar to the Type 300 Spitfire prototype. In fact, the earliest versions had two-blade propellers that were quickly changed to three blade variable pitch propellers. These significantly improved performance. Cannons were introduced later on but proved very erratic. Some British airmen did not advocate the use of cannons. Douglas Bader, the famous legless fighter ace believed that their use meant pilots fired from too far away. He advocated getting close to the enemy before unleashing a volley of machine gun fire.

Spitfire MkV

Spitfire MkV

The MkV Spitfire was built in the largest numbers and although an excellent aircraft, it was outmatched by the German Focke-Wulf FW190 in Europe. The Mk V came with different armament configurations. The MkVa had 8 Browning machine guns; the MkVb had 2 Hispano 20mm cannons and 4 Browning machine guns while the MkVc had 4 Hispano 20mm cannons. The Spitfire MkV also saw action in Africa and the Far East.

Spitfire MkIX

Spitfire MkIX

The answer to the supremacy that the Focke Wulf FW190 enjoyed over Europe was the Spitfire MkIX. This version also included a clipped wing variant for low altitude combat and extended wingtip variant for high altitude flight. The MkIX proved a worthy adversary to the FW190. This variant of the Spitfire was produced during the middle war years, and over 5000 were built.

Spitfire MkXII

Spitfire MkXII

This was the first Griffon engined Spitfire produced. To accommodate this engine, the Spitfire became around 3 foot longer. By now, other changes began to appear in the overall design of the Spitfire, including a more pointed tail fin.

Seafire

Seafire

Some Spitfires were converted for use off aircraft carriers. These were dubbed Seafires, and over ten different variants were produced throughout the war. Later modifications included folded wings for easier storage on carriers.