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Supermarine Seafang

Naval Fighter Prototype Aircraft


The Supermarine Seafang was intended as a future Royal Navy carrier-based fighter in the mold of the classic Spitfire series.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Supermarine Seafang Naval Fighter Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 8/23/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
In the course of the storied career of the fabulous Supermarine Spitfire of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), there came about an appropriate number of developments related to the classic fighter first seen during the "Battle of Britain" in the summer of 1940. Beyond the late-war speedy variants and steady gun platforms arose a branch of related fighters intended to ultimately succeed the war workhorse. This was first seen with the Supermarine "Spiteful", which failed as a potential successor with just nineteen examples completed, and the later Supermarine "Seafang", a navalized version of the Spiteful to follow in the steps of the wartime Supermarine Seafire, itself a navalized version of the land-based Spitfire.

The original Spiteful was born from a 1942 initiative to bring about increased performance from the Spitfire airframe which peaked in diving tests in the 600 mile-per-hour range. It was decided to design an all-new wing to replace the original's iconic elliptical set and a straight, tapered laminar-flow approach was approved. The new wings were attached to existing Spitfire bodies for testing and this combination ultimately produced the altogether different "Spiteful".

It was a Spiteful F.Mk 15 model, pulled from the F.Mk 14 stock, that was to serve as the basis for the Seafang carrier-based fighter. This aircraft was fitted with a Rolls-Royce Griffon 89 engine of 2,350 horsepower and given power-assisted folding wings to better serve in storage aboard the space-strapped British carriers of the day. An arrestor hook was added under the tail to snag deck wires upon landing. A pair of three-bladed contra-rotating propeller units were driven by the Rolls-Royce powerplant to provide the necessary speeds.

A pair of Seafang prototypes were ordered in March of 1945. A simplified version of the Seafang was born as the Seafang F.Mk XXXI (Type 382) in which the Spiteful aircraft was given arrestor gear and power was from a Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 engine of 2,375 horsepower driving a five-bladed propeller - the goal to provide an immediate solution as World War 2 still raged on. As this fighter came online, engineers would focus their efforts on a more polished version - the Seafang F.Mk XXXII (Type 396). This aircraft would showcase a Rolls-Royce Griffon 89 engine of 2,350 horsepower driving contra-rotating propellers.

A production order for some 150 of the interim Mk XXXI fighters was given in May - though the war in Europe had wound down to a close and just nine of this mark were completed before the order cancelled. Development on the Mk XXXII continued for a short time longer, however, and a first flight of a prototype was recorded during June of 1946. A deck landing was accomplished in May of 1947 aboard HMS Illustrious.

Two prototypes were all that would realized of the Seafang project for its wartime need was no longer there. Military aviation had also embraced the concept of jet-powered fighters as well which essentially marked the last days of prop-driven fighter types in frontline service. The Royal Navy eventually settled on such jets as the de Havilland "Vampire" and adopted the powerful Hawker "Sea Fury" as its last prop-driven carrier-based mount - leaving little in the way of a promising future for the Seafang and its related Spiteful development.

The Seafang F.Mk XXXII, with its Griffon 89 engine, managed a maximum speed of 475 miles per hour, a range out to 395 miles, a service ceiling up to 41,000 feet, and a rate-of-climb reaching 4,630 feet-per-minute. Proposed armament was 4 x 20mm Hispano Mk V cannons, two per wing element, and there would have been provisions for carrying 2 x 1,000lb bombs or 4 x 60lb rockets for ground-attack work.


YEAR: 1946
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Supermarine (Vickers) - UK
LENGTH: 34.12 ft (10.4 m)
WIDTH: 34.94 ft (10.65 m)
HEIGHT: 12.53 ft (3.82 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 8,014 lb (3,635 kg)
MTOW: 10,472 lb (4,750 kg)
POWER: 1 x Rolls Royce Griffon 89 V-12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 2,350 horsepower.
SPEED: 475 mph (765 kph; 413 kts)
CEILING: 41,010 feet (12,500 m; 7.77 miles)
RANGE: 395 miles (635 km; 343 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 4,630 ft/min (1,411 m/min)
OPERATORS: United Kingdom

4 x 20mm Hispano Mk V cannons in wings

4 x 3" (60lb) High Velocity Aerial Rockets
2 x 1,000lb conventional drop bombs
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants / Models

• Seafang F.Mk 31 - Prototype with RR Griffon 61 engine of 2,375 horsepower driving five-blade propeller; eight examples completed.
• Seafang F.Mk 32 - Prototype with RR Griffon 89 engine driving dual contra-rotating three-bladed propellers; folding wings for carrier storage; ten examples completed.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (475mph).

Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Supermarine Seafang F.Mk 32's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (11)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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