Archive digitization



Aviation and Diplomacy

Frank Piasecki

NATO 1949-2009 Projekt ekspozycji w Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie



Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70
e-mail: info@muzeumlotnictwa.pl

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region


Patronage

Kraków Airport







Aeroplane: Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk.XVIE

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk.XVIE
Great Britain
fighter
1944



  • Technical data


Span 9.93 m
Length 9.54 m
Take-off weight 3400 kg
Maximum speed 652 km/h
Ceiling 12,900 m
Range 690 km
Armament 2 x 20 mm British Hispano cannon and 2 x 12.7 mm Colt Browning machine guns, two 113 kg bombs under the wings and one 113 kg or 227 kg bomb under the fuselage
Powerplant :
12-cylinder V engine Packard Merlin 266, 1390 hp (1015 kW)
Virtual tour :

 

An iconic aircraft, in service in different versions since 1938 until 1954, the machine of "those few, to whom so many owed so much", one of the most famous aircraft of the Second World War.

In 1935, Reginald J. Mitchell, capitalized on the experience gained during designing floatplanes, came up with the design of a technologically advanced fighter. Designated the "type 300", it flew for the first time on the 5th of March 1936. The new single-seat, low-wing, all-metal airframe had retractable undercarriage. It made the impression of a small, smooth and fast aircraft – the fuselage cross-section was not much bigger than the engine's and the elliptic wings had superb aerodynamic features. The tests proved good flight characteristics and in June 1936, the British Air Ministry ordered the first 310 machines.

The first Mk I's were delivered to RAF squadrons in June 1938. In October 1939, the Spitfires came through the baptism of fire over the Firth of Forth bay, clashing with a group of German bombers. The dogfights with the Messerschmitts Bf 109's during Operation Dynamo showed the necessity of introducing a few changes in construction, and subsequently armour plates were added. During the Battle of Britain there were about 1,000 Spitfires in service with the RAF. In total, the production of the Supermarine Spitfire ended in 1947, with over 20,000 machines built.

The Mk XVI E Spitfire was the last variant produced in significant numbers that was powered by the Merlin engine. It was the Mk IXE version, powered with the Packard Merlin 266, Rolls-Royce licence-built in the USA. The engine differed from the British original with some technological changes. The new aircraft was flown in December 1943. All machines of this type were utilised to operate on low altitudes – they carried the designation LF for "Low Altitude Fighter". They also featured clipped wing tips, the E type (two cannons, two machine guns) armament configuration and tapered vertical stabiliser. Most of the Mk XVI series had their rear fuselage lowered behind the cockpit, which made it possible to introduce a teardrop canopy, thus improving rear visibility. In total, 1,055 Mk XVI E Spitfires were built.

In the Polish Air Force in Great Britain, No. 302 (City of Poznań), No. 308 (City of Kraków), and No. 317 (City of Wilno) fighter squadrons were equipped with the LF Mk XVI E Spitfires. After the war, two examples were displayed at an RAF exhibition in Warsaw. They were then donated to the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw. Unfortunately, due to hostile stance of the communist authorities, the planes were scrapped soon afterwards.

The Spitfire LF Mk XVI E AU‑Y in the Museum's collection was manufactured in 1944 and assigned to RCAF No. 421 Squadron. It survived the war and in 1956 became the property of RAF Museum Hendon. In 1967 the aircraft starred in the film "Battle of Britain". Finally, in 1977 the AU‑Y was handed over to the Polish Aviation Museum. At present, it bears the colours and markings of the No. 308 (City of Kraków) Fighter Squadron as the TB995 ZF‑O aircraft. The original ZF‑O reached the squadron on the 15th March 1945. The "Zephyrs", as the 308th was called, together with the entire 131st Polish Fighter Wing was based at the former Luftwaffe base at the Gilze-Rijen airfield in the Netherlands. The machines of the squadron flew combat missions, attacking ground targets, waterways and the V‑1 and V‑2 launching pods. The last mission of the 131st Wing was the participation in Operation "Plunder". After the end of the war, the squadron became a part of the British Air Occupational Forces.

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Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
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