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The Supermarine Spitfire was designed by the Schneider Cup winning Reginal J Mitchell and first flew in March 1936. The aircraft was originally going to be called the Shrew but was quickly renamed as the Spitfire. The Spitfire used a unique elliptical wing shape tha combined with innovative sunken rivets gave the aircraft a high top speed than most, if not all, other fighters of the time. The Spitfire was constantly developed during its life in service with multiple air arms around the world and whilst initial versions were powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin, latter versions used the far more powerful Griffon engine. In total 20,351 Spitfires were built and remained in military service until 1961 when the type was retired by the Irish Air Corps.
The Spitfire entered RAF service in 1938 and very quickly entered into combat the following year against the Luftwaffe. The final RAF operational sorties were flown over Malaysia as part of the Malayan emergency in April 1954. Up until the recent shoot down of a drone over Syria by an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon, the last officially accredited air to air kill by an RAF aircraft was by a Spitfire over Egypt in 1948. During 1962 the RAF faced a situation over Malaysia and Indonesia where Malaysian based RAF English Electric Lightnings may have to engage Indonesian P-51 Mustangs in air combat. In order to test the Lightnings effectiveness, the BBMF flew one of their Spitfires in mock-combat dogfights against them.
The Rolls Royce Heritage Flight will be providing their Spitfire PR. XIX for static display at RIAT 2023. Their Spitfire was previously owned by the BBMF and is the very same one - PS853 - that was used to train Lightning pilots to fight Mustangs. Photo Credit: Paul Fiddian