Supermarine Spitfire Model World War II Aircraft From Franklin Mint
Part Number: B11B307
Availability: Available Now
Approximately 7 1/2" (19.1 cm) in length; 9 1/4" (23.5 cm) wingspan. Scale 1:48.
Supermarine Spitfire Scale Model World War II Aircraft - Description
Earning its wings in high glory, the plane became a fighting legend.
The Spitfire fought Messerschmitts over the English Channel and ventured bravely, deep into Nazi Germany.
Coveted by tens of thousands of pilots, it was quick, deadly accurate, and became the only British fighter to remain in production for the duration of WWII.
Die-cast model full of authentic details.
The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in World War II.
Produced by Supermarine, the Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell, who continued to refine it until his death from cancer in 1937. The elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a faster top speed than the Hurricane and other contemporary designs; it also resulted in a distinctive appearance. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the whole of World War II, in all theatres of war, and in many different variants.
More than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft to be in continual production before, during and after the war.
The aircraft was dubbed Spitfire by Sir Robert MacLean, director of Vickers (the parent company of Supermarine) at the time, and on hearing this, Mitchell is reported to have said, "...sort of bloody silly name they would give it." The word dates from Elizabethan times and refers to a particularly fiery, ferocious type of person, usually a woman. The name had previously been used unofficially for Mitchell's earlier F.7/30 Type 224 design.
Supermarine's Chief Designer, R.J. Mitchell, had won four Schneider Trophy seaplane races with his designs (Sea Lion II in 1922, S.5 in 1927, S.6 in 1929 and S.6b in 1931), combining powerful Napier Lion and Rolls-Royce 'R' engines with minute attention to streamlining. These same qualities are equally useful for a fighter design, and in 1931 Mitchell produced such a plane in response to an Air Ministry specification (F7/30) for a new and modern monoplane fighter.
This first attempt at a fighter resulted in an open-cockpit monoplane with gull-wings and a large fixed spatted undercarriage. The Supermarine Type 224 did not live up to expectations; nor did any of the competing designs which were also deemed failures.
Mitchell immediately turned his attention to an improved design as a private venture, with the backing of Supermarine's owner Vickers. The new design added gear retraction, an enclosed cockpit, oxygen gear, and the much more powerful newly developed Rolls Royce PV-12 engine, later named the Merlin.
By 1935 the Air Ministry had seen enough advancement in the industry to try the monoplane design again. They eventually rejected the new Supermarine design on the grounds that it did not carry the required eight-gun load, and did not appear to have room to do so.
Once again Mitchell was able to solve the problem. It has been suggested that by looking at various Heinkel planes he settled on the use of an elliptical planform, which had much more chord to allow for the required eight guns, while still having the low drag of the earlier, simpler wing design. Mitchell's aerodynamicist, Beverley Shenstone, however, has pointed out that Mitchell's wing was not directly copied from the Heinkel He 70, as some have claimed; the Spitfire wing was much thinner and had a completely different section. In any event, the elliptical wing was enough to sell the Air Ministry on this new Type 300, which they funded by a new specification, F.10/35, drawn up around the Spitfire.
The elliptical wing was chosen for superior aerodynamic attributes but it was a complex wing to construct and the Messerschmitt Bf 109's angular and easy to construct wing offered similar performance (model per model) to the Spitfire. It has been reported that the Bf 109 took one-third the man hours to construct as the Spitfire.
One flaw in the thin wing design of the Spitfire manifested itself when the plane was brought to very high speeds. When the pilot attempted to roll the plane at these speeds, the aerodynamic forces subjected upon the ailerons were enough to twist the entire wingtip in the direction opposite of the aileron deflection (much like how an aileron trim tab will deflect the aileron itself). This so-called aileron reversal resulted in the Spitfire rolling in the opposite direction of the pilot's intention.
The prototype (K5054) first flew on March 5, 1936, from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport). Testing continued until May 26, 1936, when Mutt Summers (Chief Test Pilot for Vickers (Aviation) Ltd.) flew K5054 to Martlesham and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE).
The Air Ministry placed an order for 310 of the aircraft on 3rd June 1936, before any formal report had been issued by the A&AEE, interim reports being issued on a piecemeal basis.
A feature of the final Spitfire design that has often been singled out by pilots is its washout feature, which was unusual at the time. The incidence of the wing is +2° at its root and −½° at its tip. This twist means that the wing roots will stall before the tips, reducing the potentially dangerous rolling moment in the stall known as a spin. Many pilots have benefited from this feature in combat when doing tight turns close to the aircraft's limits because when the wing root stalled it made the control column shudder giving the pilot a warning that he was about to reach the limit of the aircraft`s performance. .
To build the Spitfires in the numbers needed a whole new factory was built at Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham as a "shadow" to Supermarine's Southampton factory. Although the project was ultimately led by Lord Nuffield who was an expert in mass construction, the Spitfire was a bit too complex and Supermarine and Vickers engineers were needed. The site was set up quickly from July 1938 - machinery was being installed 7 months after work started on site.
There were 24 marks of Spitfire and many sub-variants. These covered the Spitfire in development from the Merlin to Griffon engines, the high speed photo-reconnaissance variants and the different wing arrangements.
A naval version of the Spitfire, called the Seafire, was specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. Additions included an arrester hook, folding wings and other specialized equipment. However, like the Spitfire, the Seafire had a narrow undercarriage track, which meant that it was not well suited to deck operations. Due to the addition of heavy carrier equipment, it suffered from an aft centre-of-gravity position that made low-speed control difficult, and its gradual stall characteristics meant that it was difficult to land accurately on the carrier. These characteristics resulted in a very high accident rate for the Seafire.
The Seafire II was able to outperform the A6M5 (Zero) at low altitudes when the two types were tested against each other in WW2. Contemporary Allied carrier aircraft like the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair, however, were considerably more powerful. Late-war Seafire marks equipped with the Griffon engines enjoyed a considerable increase of performance compared to their Merlin-engined predecessors.
The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the longer name Sea Spitfire.
The first Spitfires to shoot down another plane did so in early September 1939. On this occasion the downed aircraft were RAF Hawker Hurricanes, attacked by accident.
The Spitfire and Mitchell are often credited with winning the Battle of Britain. This is a view often propagated within popular culture, such as the film The First of the Few (which was not historically accurate).
The Spitfire was one of the finest fighters of the war; aviation historians and laymen alike often claim it to be the most aesthetically appealing. It is, however, frequently compared to the Hawker Hurricane, which was used in greater numbers during the critical stage of 1940. Although early Spitfires and Hurricanes carried identical armament (eight 0.303 inch / 7.696 mm machine guns), the placement of the Hurricane's guns was better due to the closer pattern of fire that resulted. A slower top speed, however, made the Hurricane more vulnerable when fighting the German fighter escorts. Wherever possible, the RAF tactic during the Battle of Britain was to use the Hurricane squadrons to attack the bombers, holding the Spitfires back to counter the German escort fighters. In total numbers the Hurricane shot down more Luftwaffe aircraft, both fighters and bombers, than the Spitfire, due to the higher proportion of Hurricanes in the air. Seven of every ten German planes destroyed during the Battle of Britain were shot down by Hurricane pilots. Losses were also higher among the more numerous Hurricanes.
The Mark I and Mark II models saw service during the battle and beyond, into 1941. The Mark V entered service in early 1941, and was the first to feature cannon armament (although a few Mark Is had 2 x 20 mm cannon fitted in 1940). The configuration of two 20 mm cannon and four .303 machine guns was standard during the mid-war years.
Another contemporary, the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt Bf 109, was similar in attributes and performance to the Spitfire. Some advantages helped the Spitfires win many dog fights, most notably maneuverability, with both the Spitfire and the Hurricane having higher rates of turn than the Messerschmitt. Good cockpit visibility was probably a factor, also, as these early Bf 109s had narrow, panelled, heavily-framed cockpit windows. At this time, the Merlin engine' lack of direct fuel injection meant that both Spitfires and Hurricanes, unlike the Bf-109E, were unable to simply nose down into a deep dive. This meant the Luftwaffe fighters could simply 'bunt' into a high-power dive to escape attack, leaving the Spitfire spluttering behind as its fuel was forced by negative 'g' out of the carburettor. RAF fighter pilots soon learnt to 'half-roll' their aircraft before diving to pursue their opponents. The use of uninjected carburettors was calculated to give a higher specific power output, due to the lower temperature, and hence the greater density, of the fuel/air mixture fed into the motor, compared to injected systems. "Miss Shilling's orifice" (invented by a female engineer named Shilling), a holed diaphragm fitted across the float chambers, went some way to cure the fuel starvation in a dive in March, 1941. Further improvements were introduced throughout the Merlins, with injection introduced in 1943. Production of the Griffon-engined Spitfire Mk. XII had begun the year before.
The introduction of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in late 1941 along the Channel front proved a shock to RAF Fighter Command, the new German fighter proving superior to the current Mark Vb in all aspects except turning radius. Losses inflicted on RAF Fighter Command and its Spitfires were heavy as air superiority thus switched to the Luftwaffe units through most of 1942, until the Merlin 61-engined Mark IX version started to see service in sufficient numbers later in the year. Some squadrons still operating the Mark V attempted some degree of parity with the FW-190 by removing four feet of wing-tip (to improve their rate of roll) and reducing the sizes of the supercharger blades on the Merlin for optimum performance at lower altitudes. These aircraft were designated LF Mark V officially but were also known by their pilots as 'Clipped, Clapped and Cropped Spits', also referring to the fact that many of these Spitfires thus modified had seen better days.
The first Spitfires to see overseas service were Mark V's flown from the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to Malta in March 1942. In the months that followed some 275 Spitfires were delivered to the beleaguered island. To counter the dusty conditions the Spitfires were fitted with a large Vokes air filter under the nose, which induced drag and lowered the performance of the aircraft. Spitfire V and the later, much-improved, longer-ranged Mark VIII also soon became available in the North African theatre and henceforth featured heavily with the RAF, SAAF and USAAF during the campaigns in Sicily and Italy.
As the American strategic bombing campaign gathered momentum in mid-1943, the need for fighter escort meant much of Fighter Command's Spitfire force was utilised while the US fighter groups worked up to operational status. The poor range of the Spitfire however meant the RAF support operations were limited to North West France and the Channel. However, it is often noted that the Spitfire's poor range was due to the fact that most RAF bombers would fly at night, thus using night fighters and the night itself as protection instead of the Spitfire, relegating the fighter to defence duty. As the battle intensified deep over occupied Europe, USAAF fighters like the P-47, P-38 and P-51 bore the brunt of bomber protection. The Spitfire IX squadrons had to bide their time until the invasion of Europe before getting to grips with the Luftwaffe fighter force.
By then, newer, Griffon-engined Spitfires were evolving into interceptors, where their limited range was not an impediment. These newer, faster Spitfires were mostly held back to defend against incursions by lone, high-speed or high-altitude German bombers and V1 rocket bombs. Older, Merlin-engined Spitfires were adapted as fighter-bombers, stationed at tactical airfields near the advancing front.
The first Griffon-engined Mk. XII flew on August 1942, but only five had reached service by the end of the year. This mark could exceed 450 mph (724 km/h) in level flight, and climb to an altitude of 30,000 feet (10 000 m)in under eight minutes. Although the Spitfire continued to improve in speed and armament, it remained short-legged throughout its life (except in the dedicated reconnaisance role, when its guns were replaced by fuel). As American fighters took over the long-range escorting of USAAF daylight bombing raids, the newer, Griffon-engined Spitfires progressively developed into what came to be known as interceptors, while the older, Merlin-engined variants were adapted to the fighter-bomber role. After the Normandy landings, Spitfire squadrons were moved across the Channel, operating from tactical airfields behind enemy lines. As the Allied air forces achieved air supremacy, Spitfire pilots received fewer opportunities to combat German aircraft, and concentrated their efforts on roaming over German territory, attacking targets of opportunity, and on providing ground support to the army units. The newer, faster Spitfires were retained in Britain to intercept solitary, high-speed or high-altitude, German bombers and V1 flying bombs, although these aircraft, too, began moving across the Channel before the War in Europe ended.
Although the Griffon-engined marks lost some of the favourable handling characteristics of their Merlin-powered predecessors, they maintained their maneouvring advantage over German (and American) designs in Europe throughout their production.
The first Spitfires in the Far East were two PR IV photo-reconaissance marks in October 1942. The threat of Japanese attacks on Northern Australia prompted the dispatch of Spitfire Vb's in late 1942. No 1 Wing RAAF (No 54 Squadron RAF, 452 and 457 squadrons RAAF) was formed in Darwin, the first kill being achieved in February 1943, and saw constant action until September 1943. Spitfire VIII's were received in April 1944. In the Burma/India theatre the first Spitfire V's were not received until September 1943.
Spitfire pilots were shocked to find that they could not follow the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero through a turn. They were forced to adopt similar tactics to those used by the American pilots (and which German pilots had been forced to adapt against Spitfires and Hurricanes), relying on their far higher speed capability, especially in a dive (the Zero could not tolerate a dive speed much higher than that it could reach in level flight), and firepower to prevent the Japanese pilots using Zero's turning advantage.
Service in other air forces
Apart from the RAF, Spitfires served with most of the Allied air forces in World War II, especially the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), South African Air Force (SAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). It was one of only a few foreign aircraft to see service with the United States Army Air Forces. Several European countries also operated Spitfires based in the UK, including French, Norwegian, Polish and Czechoslovakian squadrons in the RAF.
The RAAF, the Royal Indian Air Force and the RAF also used Spitfires against Japanese forces in the Pacific theatre.
There is evidence that the Luftwaffe also used captured Spitfires to attack Allied targets: one such episode was the strafing of civilians from the village of Grendon, Northamptonshire in 1940.
Following World War II, the Spitfire remained in use with many air forces around the world, including the Swedish Air Force, Irish Air Corps, Italian Air Force, Syrian Air Force, Danish Air Force, Royal Norwegian Air Force and Turkish Air Force. Plus the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Belgian Air Force, the French Aeronavale, Portuguese Air Force, Rhodesian Air Force, Yugoslavian Air Force, Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force, and the Union of Burma Air Force.
Spitfires played a major role in the Greek Civil War, flown by the RAF and SAAF during 1944 and 1945, and by the Hellenic Air Force, from 1946 through the end of the war in 1948.
Spitfires last saw major action during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when — in a strange twist — Spitfires flown by Zionist pilots were engaged by Egyptian Spitfires. However, some air forces retained Spitfires in service until well into the 1960s.
Speed and altitude records
The Spitfire Mk. XI flown by Sqn. Ldr. Martindale, seen here damaged after its flight on 27 April 1944 during which it achieved a true airspeed of 606 mph (975 km/h).
During the spring of 1944, high-speed diving trials were being performed at Farnborough to investigate the handling of aircraft near the sound barrier. Because it had the highest limiting Mach number of any aircraft at that time, a Spitfire XI was chosen to take part in these trials. Due to the high altitudes necessary for these dives, a fully feathering Rotol propeller was fitted to prevent overspeeding. It was during these trials that EN409, flown by John Martindale, reached 606 mph (975 km/h) in a 45-degree dive. Unfortunately the engine/propeller combination could not cope with this speed and the propeller and reduction gear broke off. Martindale successfully glided the 20 miles (30 km) back to the airfield and landed safely.
"That any operational aircraft off the production line, cannons sprouting from its wings and warts and all, could readily be controlled at this speed when the early jet aircraft such as Meteors, Vampires, P-80s, etc could not, was certainly extraordinary" —Jeffrey Quill
On 5 February 1952 a Spitfire Mk. 19 of No. 81 Squadron RAF based in Hong Kong achieved probably the highest altitude ever achieved by a Spitfire. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Ted Powles, was on a routine flight to survey outside air temperature and report on other meteorological conditions at various altitudes in preparation for a proposed new air service through the area. He climbed to 50,000 feet (15,240 m) indicated altitude, with a true altitude of 51,550 feet (15,712 m), which was the highest height ever recorded for a Spitfire. However, the cabin pressure fell below a safe level, and in trying to reduce altitude, he entered an uncontrollable dive which shook the aircraft violently. He eventually regained control somewhere below 3,000 feet (900 m). He landed safely and there was no discernible damage to his aircraft. Evaluation of the recorded flight data suggested that in the dive, he achieved a speed of 690 mph (1110 km/h) or Mach 0.94, which would have been the highest speed ever reached by a propeller-driven aircraft. Today it is generally believed that this speed figure is the result of inherent instrument errors and has to be considered unrealistic.