The Spitfire’s maiden flight was on March 5th 1936. It finally entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1938. It remained in service with the RAF until 1955.
During this time, 20,351 Spitfires were built and about 50 are still flying in 2007.
Though it is assumed that ‘Spitfire’ came from the aeroplane’s awesome firing capabilities, it was also an Elizabethan word that meant someone who had a fiery character. Other names considered for the aeroplane were ‘Snipe’ and ‘Shrew’.
Despite the fame of the Spitfire and its association with the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane actually shot down more enemy planes during this battle.
By 1939, about 10% of all Spitfires had been lost as a result of training accidents.
The Spitfire was the only Allied fighter to be production for the duration of World War Two.
In the later years of the war the Spitfire was used for low-level reconnaissance flights. Occasionally painted pink for this role, the plane that was famous for its firing capabilities was nearly stripped of all its weaponry so that it was as light as possible and therefore as fast as was possible.
The distinctive roof bulge in the cockpit was to allow for taller pilots.
“I gloried in every minute I spent in my beloved Spitfire.” Anon
“Nothing is perfect in this world I suppose. But the Spitfire came close to perfection.” Anon