BLADE RUNNERS

CONTRA-PROP SPITFIRES

How to keep the spitfire competitive with its adversaries during the final stages of the Second World War? Contra-rotating propellers were one answer

Spitfire F21 LA215 with contra-props in place. ‘GO’ was one of the wartime Air Fighting Development Unit codes, but post- 1946 it was used by the Central Fighter Establishment. It is thought that this picture would most likely have been taken after the CFE trials described in the text.
VIA TONY BUTTLER

Piston engine development made great strides during the Second World War, but with it came a major challenge: how to handle the increased power. By the middle of hostilities, some high-performance aircraft needed to be equipped with contra-rotating propellers to enlarge the blade area, allowing them to absorb more of the power while keeping the propeller diameter within the limit set by the height of the undercarriage.

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