The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft which was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft, and was the only British fighter in production throughout the war.
The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death from cancer in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith became chief designer. The Spitfire's elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Speed was seen as essential to carry out the mission of home defence against enemy bombers.
After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theaters. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, carrier-based fighter, and trainer.
Source: Wikipedia, "Supermarine Spitfire", available under the CC-BY-SA License.
As Described In
Their Finest Hour: Perhaps no other combat aircraft in history can match the reputation of the Spitfire. In the eyes of the British public, the performance of this aircraft, more than any other factor, decided the outcome of the Battle of Britain and changed the course of World War II. The first all metal fighter to be produced for the RAF, the Spitfire was noted for its sleek design and unique thin, oval wings. While the Hurricane evolved from a biplane design, the Spitfire was designed as a monoplane from the start. And while the Hurricane outnumbered the Spitfire in 1940 and shot down more German aircraft, the Spitfire captured the imagination of the British people.
Aces Over Europe: The standard Spitfire model in service at the time of the Normandy invasion, the Mark IX was a quick fighter and a match for the Fw-190. The Spitfire remained the mainstay of the RAF's fighter forces until the end of the war. The Spitfire XIV was one of the greatest World War II piston-engined fighters. It was the first Spitfire mark to enter production with a Griffon engine, which proved to be a much better powerplant than the legendary Merlin.