Spitfire Mk.III ­– The forgotten fighter

In the January 2012 issue of Aviation News, Barry Wheeler described the Spitfire Mk.III, which played a brief but significant part in the progressive development of Britain’s greatest fighter.

By the end of 1939, the RAF had successfully flown both the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire in combat and both had fully justified the faith put in them by the Air Staff.  However, fighter operations over France with the Hurricane Mk.I had shown that the Messerschmitt Bf 109E outclassed it in speed and firepower, although given the right circumstances the British aircraft could gain the advantage in manoeuvrability.  During those early days the Spitfire Mk.I had fought only intruding Junkers Ju 88s and Heinkel He 111s, so the aircraft had yet to undertake the fighter-versus-fighter battle.

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