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World War II Fighter Plane - Submarine Spitfire

The Spitfire was a single-seat fighter plane manufactured by Supermarine, and designed by R.J. Mitchell. Mitchell continued to make modifications to the plane until his death in 1937.

The Spitfire made its combat debut came on October 16, 1939. It was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and gained immortal fame during the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire and Mitchell are often credited with winning the Battle of Britain.

A favorite of its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the all of World War II, in all theatres of the war, and in many different variants. There were 24 marks and many sub-variants for each mark. In fact, between 1938 and 1948, more than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers.

There was also a naval version of the Spitfire, called the Seafire. These planes were specially adapted for operation from naval aircraft carriers. There were over 2,000 of these planes built.

Along with the RAF, Spitfires served with most of the Allied air forces in World War II, including the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), South African Air Force (SAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The RAAF, the Royal Indian Air Force and the RAF also used Spitfires against Japanese forces in the Pacific theatre. The Spitfire was one of only a few foreign aircraft to see service with the United States Army Air Forces.

After World War II, the Spitfire remained in use with many air forces around the world. Some Spitfires remained in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft that was in continual production before, during and after the war. The Spitfire was retired by the RAF in 1952.

Though many air museums have static examples, only about 50 Spitfires remain airworthy. The RAF maintains some Spitfires at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire for flying display and ceremonial purposes.

Spitfires have been featured in several movies including:

The First of the Few (aka Spitfire) (1942), a British film, starring and directed by Leslie Howard, and co-starring David Niven. The movie is based on the true story of R.J. Mitchell, the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire. The title refers to the words of Winston Churchill who, when speaking of the Battle of Britain aircrew said: "Never in the face of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few." Since the film was made during World War II, it was meant to be propaganda, therefore, it has a few inaccuracies.

Battle of Britain (1969) starring Michael Caine. This film, set in 1940, features several flying sequences involving Spitfires.

Piece of Cake (TV miniseries) (1987) starring Tom Burlinson. This was the most watched BBC miniseries in history when it aired on the BBC in 1987. The six part miniseries was based on the novel by Derek Robinson and covers the prewar era from early 1939 to September, 1940. The series depicts the air combat over the skies of France and Britain during the early stages of WWII, though using several flying examples of late model Spitfires in place of the novel's Hawker Hurricanes. There are shots of several Spitfires taking off and landing together from grass airstrips.

About the Author: Teresa Frady is webmaster of several art and entertainment sites including, where finding your favorite poster, photo or art print is easy.

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