On 7 January 1942, the naval variant of one of the most famous British aircraft of all time made its first flight. The Vickers Supermarine Seafire was an urgent response to the need to develop a high performance carrier-based fighter aircraft. And what better idea than to develop a naval variant of the world’s most well-loved fighters?
The Admiralty first showed an interest in the idea of a carrier-borne Spitfire in May 1938 when Richard Fairey of Fairey Aviation proposed that his company could design and build such an aircraft. Much like the similarly adapted Hawker Sea Fury, the Vickers Supermarine Seafire was adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. However, the powers that be had not always approved of the notion to spend time developing another naval variant aircraft. Rather, many favoured placing priority on the maximised production of land-based Spitfires due to their considerable demand, despite an overriding need to replace various obsolete aircraft that were in operation with the Fleet Air Arm. Nevertheless, the concept was continually proposed and the eventual resulting variant was the Vickers Supermarine Seafire.