Some planes look fast, others
exude a sense of power, while still others have graceful lines. In my opinion,
no designer has ever managed to maximize all three into a single designer, with
the exception of Reginald Mitchell with his Spitfire designs.
The power of the Merlin engine,
coupled with the graceful curves and nimble handling of the Spit has made it
one of the most iconic airplanes of all times. Lovers of the beauty of aviation
all come to recognize the graceful ellipse of the wing, chosen for aerodynamic
efficiency, but which gives the ship its graceful beauty.
There are relatively few
Spitfires of any mark in flying condition at any time, yet I have been
fortunate enough to see some of them fly, and on one occasion, chase (and be chased) by
one over the blue seas of the Puget Sound. I can only imagine what it must
have been like to see a similar site from the cockpit of a Bf 109 – both fear
and respect, I’m sure.
The Spitfire was derived from a
series of seaplane racers of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The resulting fighter plane
first flew on March 5, 1936, then went on to serve in front-line units around
the world for over 20 years, at a time when many contemporary designs were
obsolete within 2 years. The evolutionary Mitchell design underwent many changes,
yet they all bore the familiar resemblance that made them Spitfires.
The Spitfire was flown by great
pilots such Alex Henshaw and Jeffrey Quill (Supermarine Test Pilots), Douglas
Bader, Robert S. Tuck, Johnny Johnson, Ginger Lacey, Peter Townsend, Paddy
Finucane, and more of “the Few’.
As long as one Spitfire flies,
the sound of its Merlin and its graceful lines will remind us of the beauty of
the greatest airplane of all times.
More information about this wonderful design can be found at: http://www.spitfiresociety.com/