Supermarine Spiteful Fighter Prototype
The Supermarine Spiteful was developed during World War 2 as a possible successor to the storied Spitfire fighter series.
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The Supermarine Spiteful was an outgrowth of the fabulous, war-winning Supermarine Spitfire single-engine, piston-driven fighter of World War 2 (1939-1945). The Spitfire evolved along many lines during the war years, the finalized forms becoming much more advanced versions than those seen in the skies during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. Some of the last variants were as fast as early turbojet fighters and packed an impressive offensive punch, keeping them flying for years after the line should have been rightfully replaced by more modern types. The Spiteful did not encounter nearly the same level of success as its root design, seeing just a total of nineteen aircraft built including two prototypes - the jet age had quickly dawned and rendered most prop-driven fighters obsolete in the grand scheme of aerial combat.
Despite the excellence showcased by the Spitfires in combat, it was becoming apparent that the design was soon to meet its performance limitation due to its unique elliptical wing set. In testing, the aircraft was stressed to the limits as it dove to reach 600 mile per hour speeds. To remedy this a new 35-foot span straight, laminar-flow, tapered wing was under consideration in November of 1942. The wings would accommodate a pair of 20mm cannons each to retain a formidable armament array but have to be manufactured to rather precise tolerances.
Prototype Spitfires with the new wing were ordered and these would be based on the Spitfire F.Mk VIII variant and number three total examples (Specification F.1/43 of 1943 was written up to cover this initiative). Essentially the work would retain much of the form and function of the Mk VIII Spitfire with the new wing unit simply added to the airframe. The engine would be revised to become a Rolls-Royce Merlin or Griffon fit and either engine would be used to drive a pair of three-bladed propellers in a contra-rotating fashion. The base maximum speed target was around 525 miles per hour.
Sufficiently impressed with the pending design, it was decided in late 1943 to gear up existing production lines for the new fighter for the latter half of 1944. Delays were seen with the precision involved in fabricating the special wings and the lack of skilled labor only hampered the overall effort. The first prototype was finally made airworthy and flown on June 30th, 1944. This aircraft featured the new wings with the Spitfire F.Mk XIV body and proved itself a faster mount though its performance did not immediately match what had been hoped for. This aircraft was lost in a fatal crash on September 13th.