The complete evolution of the Spitfire


Countless words have been written on the exploits of Spitfire pilots, the endeavours of their groundcrew and the plans and strategies of the ‘top brass’, including previous Battle of Britain and Spitfire ‘special’ publications from FlyPast. Less appreciated is the step-by-step development of an incredible family of fighters; how the Spitfire adapted to deal with different adversaries and new tactics and how its designers reacted to the experience gleaned in combat and from emerging technologies.

Little is known about the clamour to purchase, and in some cases to licence build, Spitfires by a large number of European countries as part of rearmament to meet the threat of Hitler’s Germany. Even in its earliest days, the Spitfire was seen as a vital counter to the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Had things been different and war not broken out, it seems that Supermarine faced a very healthy export market.

When peace returned, the type was still much in demand and large orders books, for new and reconditioned examples were placed. Details of both of these market places can be found in this guide, as can a reminder of the many countries that flew Spitfires and fought within the RAF during the war. Far from ‘standing alone’, Britain was bolstered by men and women from many nations.

While some combat highlights are given in this chronological examination of the Spitfire’s evolution, we present here the incredible story of how a fighter designed in the mid-1930s could continue in production into the late 1940s and fly operationally for another decade.

All over Great Britain, across the Commonwealth and worldwide, cities, towns and organisations raised money for the ‘Spitfire Fund’ to ‘buy’ one of the fighters for the war effort. This poster features the ninth Mk.I K9795 which was issued to 19 Squadron at Duxford on September 27, 1938.


Oct 25: Rolls-Royce started ground-runs of its private-venture V12 engine, designated PV.12.


Nov 16: Air Ministry specification F5/34 was issued seeking a single-seat interceptor. Among the requirements were a spritely rate of climb, six or eight guns, retractable undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit. Several companies responded, but beyond a handful of prototypes, no production order was placed. After a design conference Hawker and Supermarine received revised specifications for what were initially private-venture designs: F36/34 for what became the Hurricane and F37/34 for the Spitfire.
Dec 1:   A single Supermarine Type 300 prototype was ordered by the Air Ministry.


Feb 21:  Modified Hawker Hart K3036, fitted with a Rolls-Royce PV.12 made what was to become the Merlin engine’s first flight.
Nov 6: The prototype Hurricane, K5083, had its maiden flight, flown by test pilot ‘George’ Bulman from Brooklands.


Mar 5: Vickers chief test pilot ‘Mutt’ Summers carried out the first flight of the Type 300 prototype, K5054, at Eastleigh
Mar 26: Prototype K5054 delivered to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, Martlesham Heath, for the first of many Air Ministry acceptance trials.
Jun 3: Production contract for 310 Type 300s placed.


Jun 11: Reginald Joseph Mitchell, Supermarine chief designer, died of cancer. Joseph Smith succeeded him and went on to design all the Spitfire variants beyond the Mk.I, the Seafires and the Spiteful and Seafang.
Oct 12: First production Hurricane I, L1547, had its maiden flight, at Brooklands.
Dec:     At Northolt, 111 Squadron became the first operational Hurricane unit.
Spitfire fuselages at the Itchen works, Southampton, in 1939. In the background is a Supermarine Stranraer flying-boat. ALL KEY COLLECTION UNLESS NOTED


May 14:  First Spitfire I, K9787, had its maiden flight at Eastleigh, flown by test pilot Jeffrey Quill.
Jul 12:  Construction of the massive Castle Bromwich Air Factory began – see page 52.
Aug 4: First Spitfire I was delivered to an operational unit: K9789 to 19 Squadron at Duxford. (Mk.I K9792 was issued to 19 Squadron on July 27 for initial familiarisation and was ferried to the Central Flying School at Upavon by Jeffrey Quill two days later; it joined 19 Squadron full-time on August 16.) On November 11 the delivery of K9811 brought 19 Squadron up to full strength: 16 aircraft. By then, just over 200 Hurricanes were in squadron service.
Nov 10: The ‘High Speed’ Spitfire, wearing ‘trade plate’ markings N17 (RAF serial K9834) was first flown. It was intended for record-breaking, but not used for this purpose.
Hawker Hart K3036 served as the flying test-bed for the PV.12/Merlin. ROLLS-ROYCE

Pre War Spitfire ‘Customers’

By 1938 there was a queue of countries clamouring to add Spitfires to their frontline arsenals. As the situation is Europe worsened, it fell to the Air Ministry – itself desperately trying to build squadrons for the RAF – to decide the priorities for the nations that could be allowed to take examples from the Southampton production line. France was given top priority, after which came the following, in order: Belgium*, Estonia, Turkey*, Rumania, Portugal, Switzerland*, Yugoslavia*, Netherlands*, Greece*, Bulgaria and Iran. Those countries marked with an asterisk (*) also requested licence production rights.

Others that made enquiries but did not reach the priority list, for one reason or another, were as follows: China, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Only two of the ‘priority’ nations received Spitfires: France took a Mk.I on July 18, 1939 and Turkey received Spitfire I L1066 during September 1939. The US took delivery of Mk.I L1099 in September 1939 for a brief evaluation, before it was flown north for the Canadians to also sample the new fighter.

Beyond the outbreak of World War Two allies and countries of ‘special interest’ began to receive stocks of Spitfires: Australia (from 1943 in country), Italy (from its abandoning the Rome-Berlin Axis, in 1944); Portugal (from 1942), Soviet Russia (from 1943), Turkey (from 1944) and the United States (from 1942).



Feb: Modified Mk.I K9791 began flight testing, serving as the Mk.II prototype.
Sep 1:  World War Two started with the German invasion of Poland; Britain declared war on Germany on September 3. At this point, the RAF had nine Spitfire squadrons fully operational: 19 at Duxford, 41 at Catterick, 54 and 65 at Hornchurch, 66 at Duxford, 72 at Church Fenton, 74 at Hornchurch, 602 at Abbotsinch and 611 at Duxford.
Sep 6: Following a failure of the nascent radar early warning system, the ‘Battle of Barking Creek’ showed up flaws in Fighter Command’s control system. Airborne units were misidentified; Spitfires of 72 Squadron intercepted and shot down two Hurricanes of 56 Squadron: Plt Off F C Rose survived but tragically Plt Off M Hulton-Harrop was killed in L1985.
Sep 21: Spitfire I L1090 handed over to the United States Army Air Corps at Patterson Field, Dayton, USA for evaluation.
Oct 16: First aircraft shot down in British airspace since 1918: Spitfires of 602 Squadron, based at Drem, shot down two Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88s, and Spitfires of 603 Squadron, operating from Turnhouse, destroyed a Heinkel He 111. Both enemy aircraft fell into the sea. See October 28.
Oct 28: Following on from the exploits of October 16, Spitfires of 602 and 603 Squadrons brought down an He 111 near Haddington, east of Edinburgh. This was the first enemy aircraft shot down on the British mainland during World War Two.
Nov: Flight trials of the first Spitfire floatplane, L3059, began at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, Helensburgh.
Nov 22: First operational use of photo-reconnaissance (PR) configured Spitfire, over Luxembourg. Converted during the previous month to interim PR.III status, Mk.I N3071 flew under the guise of the ‘Special Survey Flight’ from Coulomiers and was piloted by Flt Lt M V ‘Shorty’ Longbottom.
Nov 30:     First Rolls-Royce Griffon engine was ground-run.
In October 1939 the Spitfire Is of 610 Squadron became operational at Wittering. The unit flew Spitfires until July 1951 when it traded its F.22s for Gloster Meteor jets.



Jan 11: 
Believed to be the first loss of a Spitfire in operations; Mk.I N3036 of 66 Squadron, based at Duxford, was damaged by return fire from a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 and was written off in a crash-landing.
Mar 15:  Prototype Mk.III, a conversion of Spitfire I N3297, first flown.
May 23:  During the campaign running up to Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation, Spitfires and Messerschmitt Bf 109s engaged in combat for the first time. Plt Off B H G Learmond of 92 Squadron, forward based at Hornchurch and flying Mk.I P9370, was shot down and killed by a ’109 over Dunkirk.
Jun 27:  Mk.II P7280, the first to be produced at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, was issued to service. (See page 52.)
Jul: First Mk.IIs in service, with 152 Squadron at Warmwell.
Jul 10: The ‘official’ date of the start of the Battle of Britain. A total of 18 Spitfire squadrons were at, or near, readiness: 17 at Hornchurch, 19 at Fowlmere, 41 at Catterick, 54 at Rochford, 64 at Kenley, 65 at Hornchurch, 66 at Coltishall, 72 at Acklington, 92 at Pembrey, 152 at Acklington, 226 at Wittering, 234 at St Eval, 602 at Drem, 603 at Turnhouse, 609 at Middle Wallop, 610 at Biggin Hill, 611 at Digby, 616 at Leconfield. The bulk of the force facing the Luftwaffe was composed of Hurricanes (29 squadrons) plus seven Blenheim and two Defiant squadrons.
Jul 11:
    First Spitfire pilot to perish during the Battle of Britain was Plt Off G T M Mitchell shot down by Messerschmitt Bf 109s off Portland in Mk.I L1095 of 609 Squadron.
Sep 7:     Following a bombing raid on Berlin, the Luftwaffe switched to hitting London; this was defined as the third phase of the Battle of Britain.
Sep 15:  The pivotal day of the Battle of Britain, with 56 Luftwaffe aircraft downed. The date has since been named ‘Battle of Britain Day’.
Oct 31: The month of October 1940 was defined as the fourth and last phase of the Battle of Britain.
Dec 26:  Prototype Mk.V, a conversion of Mk.I N9788, first flown.


Feb: First Mk.Vs in service, with 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill.
May 21: Plt Off M Suckling of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit flew from Wick in Scotland to the Norwegian coast in a Spitfire and brought back images of the battleship Bismarck anchored at Bergen. This sparked the massive operation that resulted in the vessel’s sinking.
Jun 26: Prototype Mk.VI, a conversion of Mk.I X4942, first flown.
Jul 18: First Spitfire, a Mk.I, built by Westland at Yeovil, was delivered to service. Westland built 685 Mk.Is and Mk.Vs, followed by 2,115 Seafires – see also October 12, 1946.
Sep 20: Converted Mk.III N3297 first flown at Hucknall as the development prototype of Mk.IX.
Oct: First ‘hooked’ Spitfire, Mk.V BL676, started trials – the beginning of the Seafire family. See also March 23, 1942.
Nov 27: Prototype Mk.IV, DP845, first Spitfire with a Griffon engine, had its maiden flight.
Named ‘Bombay City’ in honour of the Indian Spitfire Fund, Mk.V BM252 first served with 122 Squadron at Hornchurch in May 1942. KEC


Feb: Spitfire V AD371, converted to the Seafire II series prototype, began flight testing.
Mar 7: First unit-strength deployment overseas: Mk.Vs reached Malta courtesy of the USS Wasp. Spitfires launched from its deck flew the final 400 miles (643km) to the island.
Mar 23: Spitfire V BL676 (see October 1941), re-engineered as the first ‘true’ Seafire I MB328, was first flown.
Apr: First Mk.VIs in service, with 616 Squadron at Kings Cliffe.
Apr: Mk.V AB450, converted to Mk.VII status, started testing as the variant development prototype.
Apr 10: Maiden flight of the development prototype of the Mk.XII, converted from Mk.IV DP845.
May 25: First successful high-altitude interception by a pressurised Spitfire VI; taking down a Dornier Do 217 on a sortie out of Kings Cliffe.
Jun: At Atcham in Shropshire, members of the 31st Fighter Group, USAAF, accepted the first operational Spitfires to serve with the American forces.
Jul:  First Mk.IXs entered service, with 64 Squadron at Hornchurch.
Jul 30: A Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fell to the guns of Flt Lt Don Kingaby of 64 Squadron, based at Hornchurch – the first victory for the Spitfire IX.
Aug 17: Twelve Boeing B-17E Fortresses of the USAAF 97th Bomb Group were escorted by RAF Spitfires on the ‘Mighty Eighth’s’ inaugural mission, to Rouen, France.
Aug 24: Flying a specially ‘tweaked’ Spitfire V, Fg Off G W H Reynolds climbed to 42,000ft (12,800m) and intercepted a Junkers Ju 86P on a reconnaissance sortie over Alexandria, Egypt.
Sep: First Mk.VIIs entered service, with the High Altitude Flight at Northolt. Initial ‘full’ unit was 124 Squadron at North Weald in March 1943.
Sep 29: The American-manned RAF ‘Eagle’ Squadrons, 71, 121 and 133, were officially transferred to the USAAF to form respectively the 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons of the 4th Fighter Group.
Oct 4: Flight trials of converted Mk.IV (also known as Mk.XX) DP851 started, testing the new wing destined for the Mk.21.
Nov 9: Prototype Seafire III, converted from Mk.II MA9770, first flown.
Nov 20: First production Mk.VIII, JF274, had its maiden flight.
Dec: PR.XIs entered service, with 541 Squadron at Benson.
Ibsley-based 118 Squadron received Mk.V EP130 in June 1942; it only stayed with the unit until September. KEC
A Spitfire unleashing its firepower against the gun butts.


Feb: At Darwin, Australia, 54 Squadron RAF became operational – first use of Spitfires in the Pacific theatre.
Feb: First Mk.XIIs in service, with 41 Squadron at Llanbedr.
Mar:  Converted Mk.I L1004, first flown on initial trials for Mk.XIII.
Apr: PR.XIIIs entered service, with 542 Squadron at Benson.
Jul: First Mk.VIIIs in service, with 145 Squadron on Sicily, Italy.
Aug: Mk.21 PP139, the first production example, began flight trials.
Sep: Converted Mk.VIII JG204, started flight testing as the F.23 developmental prototype.
Sep 7: Mk.VIII JF317 first flown in the guise of the Mk.XIV developmental prototype.
Oct: Based in eastern India, 136, 607 and 615 Squadrons, all equipped with Mk.Vs, were declared operational in the India-Burma theatre.
Oct: Converted Mk.IX MH850 was first flown as the developmental prototype for the Mk.XVI.
Nov: Prototype Seafire XV, NS487, first flown.
Nov 8: Based at Chittagong, India, Spitfire Vs of 615 Squadron shot down a Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah – the type’s initial success in the Burma theatre.
Spitfire XII MB878 was used for trials with a 500lb bomb under its centre section at Boscombe Down from September 1943.
Proudly carrying the red and white chequer markings of Poland, Mk.IX MH869 of Northolt-based 302 ‘Poznanski’ Squadron, late 1943.


The ever-increasing number of Spitfire designations forced a re-think in 1944. Roman numerals (eg Mk.XVI) continued but once Mk.XX had been reached, the change was made to Arabic, hence Spitfire Mk.21 etc. In 1948 the decision was taken to adopt Arabic numerals throughout. For example, Spitfire PR.XIXs became PR.19s.
Jan: First Mk.XIVs entered service, with 610 Squadron at Exeter.
Feb: First Seafire IIIs in service, with 899 Squadron.
Mar 15: Prototype F.21, LA187, had its maiden flight.
Apr 4: Mk.X prototype, MD192, first flown.
Jun: Prototype Seafire XVII, converted from Mk.XV NS493, begins flight test.
Jun 6: On the morning of the D-Day invasion Fg Off Johnnie’ Houlton of 485 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force shot down a Junkers Ju 88 – it was the first of many enemy aircraft dispatched that day. ‘Kiwi’ Houlton was flying Spitfire IX ML407, which is still in fine form – see page 50.
Jun 23: Flying a Spitfire XIV out of West Malling, Fg Off K R Collier was the first to ‘flip’ a V-1 flying-bomb. Frustrated that he had expended his ammunition, he flew alongside the ‘Doodlebug’ and used his wing tip to topple it, causing its gyros to fail so that it plummeted to the ground.
Jun: Developmental prototype for the Spiteful, NN660, was first flown by Jeffrey Quill.
Sep: Converted Spitfire F.21 TM379 completed as the prototype Seafire F.45, began tests during the month, and similarly re-configured F.21 TM383 started trials as the Seafire F.46 prototype, on the 8th.
Oct:    Prototype PR.XIX SW777 first flown.
Oct 5: Spitfire IXs of 401 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, based in the Netherlands, shot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 – the first time the twin-jet had been destroyed in the air.
Nov: First PR.XIXs in service, with 542 Squadron at Benson.
Nov:  Coltishall-based 602 Squadron put first Mk.XVIs into service.
Nov: Prototype F.22, SX549, began flight testing.
Dec 30: Three Focke-Wulf Fw 190s and a pair of Messerschmitt Bf 109s were shot down in one sortie by Flt Lt R J Audet of 411 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, flying a Spitfire IX. Operating from Heesch in the Netherlands, Audet became the only ‘ace in a day’ Spitfire pilot.
Mk.IX MJ892 was converted to a floatplane, making its first flight at Beaumaris, Anglesey,
in July 1944.


Jan: F.21s entered service, with 91 Squadron at Manston.
Apr 24: Spitfire V AB910 flew a ‘passenger’ – see page 30.
Jul 6: First production MK.XVIII, SM843, had its inaugural flight.
Sep: Seafire XVs went into service for the first time, with 883 Squadron.
Nov 30: Last Spitfire built at Castle Bromwich, Mk.22 PK614, had its maiden flight. Production of fuselages and sub-assemblies continued into 1946.


Feb: First production Mk.24, PK678, had its maiden flight.
Apr 25: Prototype Seafire F.47 PS845 first flown.
Jun 18: ‘True’ prototype of the Seafang, F.32 VB895, first flown.
Aug: Mk.XVIIIs entered service, with 208 Squadron at Ein Shemer, Palestine. (See page 66.)
Sep 9: Prototype Tr.VIII two-seater, converted from Mk.VIII MT818, first flown, see page 50.
Oct 12: Last Westland-built Seafire, a Mk.XVII, delivered to service. This completed production of Spitfires and Seafires at Yeovil.
A Seafire II touching down on the deck of a carrier. FLEET AIR ARM MUSEUM


Jan 1: Four Mk.XVIIIs of 60 Squadron attacked communist forces at Kota Tinggi in Johore, Malaya. This was the last time that RAF Spitfires expended weaponry in operational service.


Jul 6:  Two Spitfire XVIIIs of 60 Squadron attacked communist insurgents at Ayer Karah in Perak, Malaya, with cannon fire and rocket projectiles. This was a brief operational era for Spitfires as they were replaced by Bristol Beaufighters in the ground attack role the following month.


Apr 1: Last operational flight by a Spitfire, staged by 81 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore, by PR.XIX PS888 and to prove it, the name The Last was painted on the cowling.


Jun 10: Last sortie by a civilian-operated Spitfire PR.XIX of the RAF Temperature and Humidity Flight, at Woodvale. This was the final tasking by a Spitfire wearing RAF roundels, see page 88. The Spitfire was PS853 which is still airworthy, see page 86.


May 21: Battle of Britain Flight formed at Biggin Hill. On June 1, 1969 it was re-named as the present-day Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. (See page 88.)
Jul: The Indian Air Force withdrew its last operational Spitfires, PR.XIXs. These could well have been the last frontline examples; although that accolade could go to Syria, which may have been flying F.22s into 1959.
Royal Netherlands Air Force Spitfire Tr.9 H-99 (previously Mk.IX BS147) was handed over in March 1948.

Commonwealth And Overseas RAF and FAA Spitfire Squadrons

Nation     Sqn     From     To     Variants*
Australia           451 Feb 1943 Jan 1946  V, IX, XVI, XIV
  452    Apr 1941      Jun 1942     I, II, V
  453   Jun 1942  Jan 1946    I, V, IX, XVI
   457      Jun 1941 un 1942    J I, II, V
Belgium 349   Jun 1943 Oct 1946  V, IX, XVI
     350    Nov 1941   Oct 1946     II, V, IX, XIV, XVI
Canada     400    Dec 1943     Apr 1945     XI, XIII
    401 Sep 1941   Jun 1945    II, V, IX, XIV
     402   Mar 1942     Jul 1945    V, IX, XIV, XVI
    403      May 1941   Jun 1945     I, II, V, IX, XVI
   411 Jun 1941    Mar 1946     I, II, V, IX, XIV, XVI
    412    Jul 1941  Mar 1946     II, V, IX, XIV, XVI
   414 Jul 1944     Aug 1945    V, IX, XIV
       416   Nov 1941   Mar 1946  II, V, IX, XIV, XVI
  417 Nov 1941   Jun 1945    II, V, VIII, IX
   421 Apr 1942     Jul 1945    V, IX, XVI
  430 Nov 1944     Aug 1945     XIV
  441 Feb 1944     Jun 1945    V, IX
     442   Feb 1944     May 1945     V, IX
  443    Feb 1944   Mar 1946     V, IX, XIV, XVI
  803   Aug 1945     Jan 1946     Seafire XV [1]
     883 Nov 1945    Nov 1948     Seafire XV [1]
Czechoslovakia 310 Oct 1941     Feb 1946     II, V, VI, IX
  312   Oct 1941       Feb 1946 II, V, IX
313 Mar 1941    Feb 1946     I, II, V, VI, VII, IX
France     326 Dec 1943  Nov 1945 V, IX
  327    Dec 1943   Nov 1945 V, VIII, IX
    328 Dec 1943   Nov 1945     V, VIII, IX
    329     Feb 1944     Nov 1945     V, IX, XVI
    340    Nov 1941   Nov 1945     II, V, IX, XVI
  341     Jan 1943     Nov 1945     V, IX, XVI
     345     Mar 1944     Nov 1945     V, IX, XVI
Greece 335 Dec 1943  Jul 1946     V
  336      Jul 1944   Jul 1946 V
India 8 Jul 1944     May 1947     VIII, XIV
  9 May 1945 Jun 1946     VIII, XIV
  10    Jul 1945    May 1947     VIII
Netherlands    167      Oct 1942   Jun 1943     V
  322 Jun 1943  Oct 1945    IX, XIV, XVI
New Zealand     485    Mar 1941 Aug 1945  I, II, V, IX, XVI
Norway 331 Nov 1941 Nov 1945   II, V, IX
  332     Jan 1942     Sep 1945     V, IX
Poland     302     Oct 1941    Dec 1946     V, IX, XVI
    303        Jan 1941  Apr 1945     I, II, V, IX
     306      Jul 1941   Mar 1943    II, V, IX
  308     Apr 1941     Dec 1946     I, II, V, IX, XVI
    315      Jul 1941  Mar 1944 II, V, IX
  316 Oct 1941 Apr 1944 V, IX
     317  Oct 1941   Dec 1946 V, IX, XVI
   318  Feb 1944   Aug 1946 V, IX
South Africa    1     Nov 1942    Oct 1943    V, VIII, IX
  2 Jul 1943    Jul 1945   V, IX
  3 Mar 1944    Oct 1945     V, IX
     4 Jul 1943   Jul 1945  V, IX
  7 Jul 1943         Jul 1945 V, IX
  9 Jun 1944     Feb 1945     V, IX
   10   Jul 1944    Oct 1945     V, IX
  40 Feb 1943     Oct 1945     V, IX, XI
  41   Feb 1944     Nov 1944     V, IX
Southern Rhodesia   237   Dec 1943     Dec 1945     V, IX
USA 71     Aug 1941     Sep 1942     II, V [2]
   121   Oct 1941     Sep 1942     II, V [2]
  133 Oct 1941      Sep 1942   II, V [2]
Yugoslavia     352 Jun 1944     Jun 1945   V

Notes: * Main variants only; not necessarily presented in chronological order of service. [1] Fleet Air Arm units. [2] American-manned, but non-allied, ‘Eagle’ Squadrons; re-formed on September 29, 1942 as fully fledged USAAF units, respectively: 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons, 4th Fighter Group.

Boasting a shark’s mouth and a ‘slipper’ fuel tank, a Spitfire VIII of 457 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force at Morotai in February 1945.

Overseas Operators


Royal Thai Air Force    Dec 1950    Apr 1955    XIV, XIX

Air Arm     From     To     Main variants
South African Air Force     Nov 1942   Apr 1954   V, IX
Royal Australian Air Force     Feb 1943   Aug 1945   II, V, VIII
Belgian Air Force     Oct 1946   Oct 1954  IX, XIV, XVI
Union of Burma Air Force     Apr 1948  1954     IX, XVIII, Seafire XV
Royal Canadian Air Force    Apr 1941     Mar 1946  II, V, IX, XIV, XVI
Royal Canadian Navy       Jun 1946 Dec 1948 Seafire XV
Czechoslovakian Air Force     Aug 1945   1948     IX
Danish Air Force     Aug 1947 Jun 1955   IX, XI
Danish Naval Air Service     Aug 1947 1951     IX, XI
Royal Egyptian Air Force [1]     Feb 1945   1956 V, IX, Tr.IX, F.22
French Air Force     Jan 1945     Dec 1953     I, V, VIII, IX
French Naval Air Arm        Mar 1946  May 1953  IX, Seafire III, XV
Royal Hellenic Air Force     Apr 1946 Jul 1954   V, IX
Royal Hong Kong Aux Air Force   Apr 1952 1955     XIX, F.24
Royal Indian Air Force [2]   Jul 1944 Jul 1958   VIII, Tr.IX, XI, XIV, XVIII, XIX
Irish Air Corps Feb 1947  1960 Tr.IX, Seafire IIII
Israel Defence Force / Air Force   Sep 1948 Oct 1956 IX
Italian Air Force     Sep 1944 1952 V, IX
Netherlands Air Force     May 1946   Sep 1953 IX, Tr.IX
Royal Norwegian Air Force   May 1945   Aug 1953   IX, XI
Portuguese Air Force      Nov 1942  Jan 1948   I, V
Southern Rhodesian Air Force   Mar 1951     1954     F.22
Singapore Fighter Squadron [3]   May 1951     Feb 1954     XVIII, F.24
Soviet (Russian) Air Force     Jan 1943   c1951     IV, V, IX
Royal Swedish Air Force Jan 1949     Aug 1955   XIX
Syrian Air Force     May 1954   c1959   F.22
Turkish Air Force   Sep 1939 1954   I, V, IX, XIX
United States Army Air Force     Sep 1942 mid-1945   I, V, VIII, IX, XI
United States Navy          Feb 1944 1945   V, Seafire II
Yugoslavian Air Force     Jun 1945   1952   V, IX

Notes: See also page 60. [1] Egyptian Air Force from July 1953. [2] Indian Air Force from December 1949. [3] Part of Malayan Auxiliary Air Force. Compiled with frequent reference to Spitfire International by Helmut Terbeck, Harry van der Meer and Ray Sturtivant, Air-Britain, 2002.

Spitfire V EP210 was shipped to the Soviet Union in October 1942.

Tail Heavy

To help keep the tail down when taxying out for take-off in blustery conditions, groundcrew frequently sat on the leading edge of the tailplane and took a (draughty) ride. While serving with 53 Operational Conversion Unit at Hibaldstow, Flt Lt Neil Cox DFC*, piloting Mk.V AB910, forgot a pre-flight check item. He hit the throttle before WAAF LAC Margaret Horton could ‘dismount’. She flung herself across the fin and held on for all she was worth. Cox soon appreciated that his spitfire was tail heavy and the elevator was not responsive. A gentle circuit brought Spitfire and ‘passenger’ safely back to terra firma. Castle Bromwich-built AB910 is still with us; part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Spitfire V AB910 carried a ‘passenger’ in April 1945. It went on to join the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and is seen in the foreground of an incredible formation staged in November 1973. Behind AB910 are: Mk.II P7350, Hurricane PZ865, Hurricane LF363, Spitfire XIX PM631 and Spitfire XIX PS853. KEC