Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Supermarine Spitfire

“I reckon that woke him up!” That was the thought running through Flying Officer Irving F. “Hap” Kennedy’s mind as he pulled his Spitfire out of a run against the port engine of a Junkers Ju 52. The aircraft’s gunner had been napping just before Hap had let loose his burst of fire. Moments later, the Ju 52 and its cargo and crew crashed into the sea.

– Excerpt from Canada’s Eagles over Husky

Hurricane Mark II & Spitfire over Blackpool.
Spitfire AB910 of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which is based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Known for its unique elliptical wings, this classic warplane became the workhorse of the Commonwealth air forces in the middle and late years of the Second World War. During the Battle of Sicily, most of the RAF tactical daylight fighter squadrons flew the Supermarine Spitfire. Typical missions included fighter sweeps, combat air patrols above the Operation Husky beachheads, and escorting tactical and strategic bombers to their targets in Sicily. Malta-based Spitfires also saw some fighter-bomber activity before Desert Air Force fighter-bombers moved into the island for the invasion. The Spitfire Mk VC, Spitfire MK VIII, and Spitfire Mk IX all saw action. Two squadrons flew a photo-reconnaissance variant.

Specifications (F Mk VIII)

Type: single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber

Powerplant: one 1230kW (1650hp) Rolls-Royce Merlin 63 12-cylinder Vee engine

Performance: maximum speed 657km/h (408mph) at 25,000ft; service ceiling 43000ft; range 1060km (660 miles) or 1900km (1180 miles) with a 90 gallon drop tank

Weights: empty 2545kg (5610lb); maximum take-off 4309kg (9500lb)

Wingspan: 11.23m (36ft 10in)

Length: 9.46m (31ft)

Height: 3.85m (12ft 8in)

Armament: two 20mm (0.79in) fixed forward-firing cannon and four 7.7mm (0.303in) fixed forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing, plus an external bomb load of 454kg (1000lb)

The following units in Mediterranean Air Command flew Spitfires in Operation Husky. As you can see, some American and French fighter units also flew these aircraft.


Northwest African Coastal Air Force

  • US 52nd Fighter Group
    • US 2nd Fighter Squadron
    • US 4th Fighter Squadron
    • US 5th Fighter Squadron
  • No. 232 Wing RAF
    • 73 Squadron RAF
    • II/7 (French)

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • Desert Air Force
    • No. 2 Squadron SAAF
    • No. 4 Squadron SAAF
    • No. 1 Squadron SAAF
    • No. 92 Squadron RAF
    • No. 145 Squadron RAF
    • No. 417 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 601 Squadron RAF
    • No. 81 Squadron RAF
    • No. 152 Squadron RAF
    • No. 154 Squadron RAF
    • No. 232 Squadron RAF
    • No. 242 Squadron RAF
    • No. 43 Squadron RAF
    • No. 72 Squadron RAF
    • No. 93 Squadron RAF
    • No. 111 Squadron RAF
    • No. 243 Squadron RAF
  • US 31st Fighter Group
    • US 307th Fighter Squadron
    • US 308th Fighter Squadron
    • US 309th Fighter Squadron
  • Tactical Bomber Force
    • No. 225 Squadron RAF

Northwest African Photo Reconnaissance Wing

  • No. 680 Squadron RAF

Air Headquarters Malta

  • No. 40 Squadron SAAF
  • No. 126 Squadron RAF
  • No. 185 Squadron RAF
  • No. 229 Squadron RAF
  • No. 249 Squadron RAF
  • No. 1435 Flight
  • 683 Squadron RAF (Reconnaissance)

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