Monday, April 30, 2012

Mitchell's masterpiece . . .

Battle of Britain Spitfire II
MONDAY SURPRISE — 20 BRAND-NEW Spitfire XIV's! According to Victoria Ward at and Rowena Mason at The Telegraph, "Spitfires buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK". The XIV was a late-model Spit, with a R-R Griffon engine replacing the Merlin, and a laminar-flow wing, a much faster aircraft than the Battle-of-Britain Spitfire II with its 3-blade prop.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

Maybe we could borrow them while the chimps in Ottawa figure out what's going to replace our F-18's?


hettygreen said...

Anyone ever seen/heard one of these beauties at an airshow? The sound on a low altitude flyby at speed will make every hair on your body stand to attention. Wikipedia says there's another 36 Spits buried out there somewhere waiting to be found and reassembled. Much more pleasant than reading about the distressing F-35 boondoggle.

sinned34 said...

Some Spitfire pilots likely saved my grandfather's life when they interrupted members of the Luftwaffe strafing my grandfather's infantry squad outside of Carpiquet.

I'd love the chance to see one of these beauties in flight.

ThinkingManNeil said...

The late, great Jeff Ethell, who was one of the World's top warbird pilots and WW2 aviation historians, said that the Griffon Spits were a very different breed of animal from their earlier Merlin powered versions. He said that once the Mk.14 showed up it was no longer a machine of great finesse; much of the lightness in the control feel of the Mk. Vb and even the later and somewhat heavier Mk.IX (the version produced in most numbers) was gone, replaced by a wickedly fast, powerful and aggressive machine. He said of the Mk.XVIII Spit - which had a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder than the 14 to handle the increased torque load produced by the 2,000+ hp Griffon engine - that it was more of a beast to handle and that even the sound was different. The Merlin Spits had an almost melodic sound to them that was instantly recognizable and always left an impression on the listener (the Merlin Spit even manages to sound different from it's equally famous contemporary, the P-51 Mustang), while the Griffon-powered Spitfires, Jeff said, "...sounded angry; like they wanted to go out and kill something"

Here's a vid of a Merlin-powered Spitfire Mk.Vb for it's sound (if you can ignore the noisy gawkers):
And one of a Griffon-powered Spitfire XIV for comparison:


hettygreen said...

The Wikipedia entry goes into some detail on the points which you raise ThinkingMan. Most people associate the Spit with winning the Battle of Britain but it was actually the Hawker Hurricane that was responsible for most of the enemy bomber kills while the Spits kept the Me-109's busy. The sacrifice of handling to brute force may have had something to do with the power required to intercept the ram-jet 'doodle-bugs' that were becoming a problem late in the war (although the Typhoons were best known for this job).

The lesser known de Havilland Mosquito is my other favourite piston driven aircraft (Christmas Eve would not be the same without Alan Maitland's reading of the Shepherd). The plane was incredibly versatile, from pathfinding to precision bombing (famously knocking out radio transmitters in Berlin to interrupt a key speech being given by Luftwaffe Chief Goering in January 1943). My long departed father who was a wireless operator in a Handley-Page Halifax had the good fortune to experience a 'joy ride' in one, flying just over the wave tops of the Firth of Forth at 300+mph.