SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE Mk-Ia
by Michael Wooten
Print Size: 28" x 17"
In 1934 the British Air ministry was looking for a new fighter in an effort to keep pace with advances being made in German aircraft design. Led by designer Reginald Mitchell, The Supermarine Aircraft Company developed the famous Spitfire fighter, an idea inspired by a earlier design whose infancy was in a floatplane first flown by the company in 1925. The development occurred at a time when designers were beginning to place great emphasis on speed and rate of climb. The unique wing design of the spitfire, however, permitted outstanding maneuverability at low speeds, as well as easy handling at high altitudes. On March 6, 1936, the first Spitfire prototype flew from Southampton’s Eastleigh Airport, and in June of that year the Air Ministry ordered 310 of the new fighters to be delivered by March of 1939.
It was in the Battle of Britain that the Spitfire achieved world recognition, proving to have few equals as an interceptor. In the skies over Britain the Spitfire first engaged the mainstay of the Luftwaffe, the Bf-109. They proved worthy adversaries. The 109 was more effective in high speed engagements, and above 20,000 feet the Bf-109 proved superior. Orders from Hermann Goering, however, changed German fighter tactics, and forced the 109s into slow speed encounters at medium altitudes in order to escort bombers more closely. This gave the edge to the Spitfires. Because of this, Germany’s youngest general of the Luftwaffe, Adolph Galland, once angered Goering. When asked by the latter if there was anything he needed, Galland’s answer was, "I should like a squadron of Spitfires." The Spitfires were also effective in the photoreconnaissance role. By the end of 1940 a well organized Photographic Development Unit, or PDU, had been formed, flying 841 sorties over German occupied territories between July and December. Back in England the Spitfires were used effectively to intercept and shoot down V-1 rockets.
Constant updating and modifications ensured that the Spitfire remained a dependable and effective opponent of Axis aircraft until the end of the hostilities in 1945. Production continues until after the war. The last Spitfires delivered were to India in 1951 and were retired in 1955. All totaled approximately 22,000 of these fine aircraft were produced, carving the Spitfire indelibly into the history of England and aviation.
Michael Wooten’s exquisite print shows the "SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE Mk-Ia" surrounded by nine famous British Royal Air Force squadron insignias - 43, 54, 71, 72, 92, 121, 133, 234, and 616 squadrons – with a brief history of the Spitfire beneath. (Three of the squadrons depicted, 71 Squadron, 121 Squadron, and 133 Squadron, were the Eagle Squadrons, comprised of American who flew with the RAF before the United States entered the war. After the US entered the war, the three Eagle Squadrons transitioned into the 4th Fighter Group. 71 Squadron became the 334th Fighter Squadron, 121 Squadron became the 335th Fighter Squadron, and 133 Squadron became the 336th Fighter Squadron.)
Signed by the artist.