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WildeSau75

Visual differences of Spitfire Mk. 1 vs Mk. II

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Hi guys,

Sorry, this question might sound a bit stupid for some of you, but can someone tell me the visual differences of the Spitfire Mk. I vs the Mk. II.

Information about all non visual differences would be of interest of well.

TIA.

Cheers,

Michael

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On the right hand (or starboard) side of the engine, below the exhausts, is a small bulge on the Mk II, which houses the Coffman starter. This is not present on a Mk I. Otherwise, as far as I know, the Mk Ia (ie late Mk I's) and the Mk II were identical externally. Note the most Mk II's used the Rotol prop and spinner and most Mk Ia's used the De Havilland prop and spinner but you will find some Mk I's with Rotol props and some Mk II's with DH props, so look for the Coffman starter bulge.

thanks

Mike

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Hi guys,

Sorry, this question might sound a bit stupid for some of you, but can someone tell me the visual differences of the Spitfire Mk. I vs the Mk. II.

Information about all non visual differences would be of interest of well.

TIA.

Cheers,

Michael

OK,

Explaining why you want the information might help.

(And Mike posted while I was typing.)

First, with a Spitfire I there can be a load of little differences, as improvements were introduced from entry into service in 1938 to what would be the late standard, say summer Battle of Britain 1940, which are prop changed from 2 blade wooden and a flat topped canopy, along with other changes.

Between say a BoB mk I and Mk II, the Mk II introduced a Merlin XII engine, which had a Coffman starter, this needed a small bulge behind the spinner. The Mk II used the blunt spinner Rotol propeller as well (as used on the Hurricane I as well) though a few Spitfire I used this type of prop as well.

the below pics show these

Mk I, De Havilland propeller

spit1-12.jpg

Mk II

spit2-3.jpg

This is about the A wing, as both the Mk I and II has cannon armed B wing versions, though these are rare.

For definite ID you need the serial.

HTH

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Note the little hole, in the Mk.I's cowling, with a small white patch below it; this was a label, advising, in the event of needing the winding/starting handle (which early Merlins sometimes needed,) that the erk should be lashed to the u/c leg, to stop him pitching forward into the prop. With cartridge starting, the label wasn't needed on the Mk.II, though it wouldn't surprise me if some appeared somewhere.

The plastic seat was originally intended to be exclusively for Castle Bromwich, so it's very unlikely that, on the Mk.II, they were anything but the red type; on the Mk.I, especially prior to May, 1940, green, or (probably more likely) black would have been normal, until Supermarine's Southampton factory was destroyed.

Armour, behind the seat, was not fitted until June 1940.

Before early July 1940, the Mk.I did not have the wrap-over "deflection armour" (actually an extra sheet of aluminium) over the fuel tanks; as they were later than that, the Mk.IIs would have had the armour.

In 1940, no Spitfire had I.F.F. fitted, so the Mk.I shouldn't have the destructor buttons on the cockpit wall; after 28-12-40, the equipment was introduced, so any airframe, in 1941, was likely to carry it (plus the buttons.)

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Note the little hole, in the Mk.I's cowling, with a small white patch below it; this was a label, advising, in the event of needing the winding/starting handle (which early Merlins sometimes needed,) that the erk should be lashed to the u/c leg, to stop him pitching forward into the prop. With cartridge starting, the label wasn't needed on the Mk.II, though it wouldn't surprise me if some appeared somewhere.

That's what people love about Edgar. Only he could come out with that bit of information.

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Here is what Edgar was explaining above. This is on the restored Mk.I at Cosford.

00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000BCC_zps

Note the warning on the plaque. 'Elf 'n' safety is not a new invention!

Trevor

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Note the warning on the plaque. 'Elf 'n' safety is not a new invention!

Trevor

more likely they found it more cost effective putting a sign on rather than washing bits of erk off the airframe!

Also, do you know how expensive a propeller is??

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Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for all these interesting information.

So it seems that making a Mk. II out of a Mk. I kit (the Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk. I) shouldn't be that much of an issue.

But who knows - before I get started with it, Airfix bringing a Mk. II is not unlikely 😗

Again thanks guys.

Cheers,

Michael

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You can get a 3D Kits (?) "conversion" that includes the Rotol (though as I recall the kit comes with one) and the bump. Or you could just steal a bump from something, perhaps- maybe a wingtip light from some kit? Note that the Mk.II also doesn't have the hatch, below that turning crank hole (or rather, forward of the wing's leading edge), for an electrical starter-cart plug. Not sure where you load the Coffman cartridges, though...

bob

Edited by gingerbob

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Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for all these interesting information.

So it seems that making a Mk. II out of a Mk. I kit (the Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk. I) shouldn't be that much of an issue.

But who knows - before I get started with it, Airfix bringing a Mk. II is not unlikely

Again thanks guys.

Cheers,

Michael

Airfix have already done it!

Selwyn

http://www.airfix.com/uk-en/supermarine-spitfire-mki-mkiia-1-72.html

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It is the same tooling as the Mk.I but with a few extra pieces and transfers for the Mk.II.

Thankfully, the 3D prop/spinner will do for Hurricanes. When we get a good metal-wing Mk.I, of course.

Edited by Graham Boak

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more likely they found it more cost effective putting a sign on rather than washing bits of erk off the airframe!

Also, do you know how expensive a propeller is??

Whereas erks were expendable ...

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Another significant difference was the external fuel tank fitted to the port wing of approx 100 Mk IIs.

Stewart

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Yes, but that was rather a special case. Those Mk.II LRs, by the way, had metal ailerons fitted.

bob

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I think I read somewhere, long ago, that cannon I's had manually converted wings to a pattern of their own, while IIb's were to the pattern that became (or already had become) the production standard b-wing. Can anyone confirm?

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I can't confirm about the cannon Mk.Is (they may well have some subtle differences), but the IIbs were Castle Bromwich gearing up on 'b' wing production, so there shouldn't be any difference compared to a Vb beyond any possible fine tuning over time. It is possible that there was some shape difference in the bulge(s) particular to Castle Brom, simply due to manufacturing reasons, but that's something I haven't investigated enough to determine.

bob

Edited by gingerbob

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I think I read somewhere, long ago, that cannon I's had manually converted wings to a pattern of their own, while IIb's were to the pattern that became (or already had become) the production standard b-wing. Can anyone confirm?

There might have been some differences around the cannon and their bulges, but the rest of the panel lines (including the outer Browning compartments) stayed the same, though the redundant machine guns might have had pain covers.

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I think I read somewhere, long ago, that cannon I's had manually converted wings to a pattern of their own, while IIb's were to the pattern that became (or already had become) the production standard b-wing. Can anyone confirm?

I understood the same. Looking in STH the text is somewhat ambiguous, but does mention changes to the wing spar (presumably without external difference) and changes to the ejection slots. More significantly, Supermarines charged £379.16s for a conversion to the "cannon only" configuration, but £640.11s for a conversion to the "proper" B standard. This suggests that the differences were considerable. My understanding is that the original wing did not have the ability to fit the outer machine guns, but would prefer to see that confirmed/denied with evidence.

However, this would distinguish the early cannon-armed Mk.Is, but not necessarily a Mk.Ib (should such exist) from a Mk.IIb.

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Adding one other piece: according to STH p 60, the initial batch or R-serialled aircraft as supplied to 19 Sq were labelled with the suffix CIG on Supermarine dockets, whereas the later X-serialled aircraft were suffixed CMG. STH suggests the latter stood for "cannon machine guns". We are left to guess what CIG stood for, but a significant difference is implied. Not that this helps the modeller a lot...

Further, I'd suggest that had the changes to the cannon wing merely required the addition of machine guns to available positions, this could have been done on squadron, thus permitting continued combat trials.

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Graham, re; your comment that machine guns were perhaps not fitted to the cannon armed Mk I's, I do recall reading that pilots were forced to break off combat when the cannon jammed on their Mk I's. Whether they were left with no guns, or felt that four machine guns were inadequate, is unknown. Certainly I haven't seen mention made of them using machine guns when flying these planes and would think that when you are in a position to fire, mention would be made of having to use machine guns when the cannon jammed (?) Not hard evidence, I know, but perhaps adds more weight to this possibility.

PR

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No, the cannon-armed Mk.Is initially used by 19 Squadron did NOT have .303s installed. They were joined by some subsequently that DID have .303s as well. But the earlier ones were able to have the Brownings fitted without too much trouble- I think there were some internal "details" such as heat ducts that might have had to be fitted. Of the 30 cannon Mk.Is, something like 25 (that is, all that survived in decent condition) became Mk.Vbs, mostly in Feb/Mar '41, with (I believe) a few stragglers that might have been in a damaged state at the time, or the like.

bob

p.s. I don't remember running into any Supermarine (or other) mention of the CIG/CMG. It is entirely possible that they were so noted on the record cards (that is to say I have not confirmed one way or the other), but I haven't seen anything saying that there was really a significant division among the 30, other than the last few having the Brownings fitted from the start, since it was still possible to do so when it was found desirable.

EDIT: I knew I should have looked first! According to the transcription I have of the Supermarine "production ledger" which is held by the RAF Museum, the last 7 are noted as 'CMG' while the prior 23, including a few X__ serials, are just 'CG'. Since this is a transcription, I can't be absolutely sure that this is how the ledger itself has noted them. This ledger appears to have been created somewhat retrospectively, and, like most other sources, is imperfect, but it is certainly a useful document.

Edited by gingerbob

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I can't imagine any fighter pilot not continuing to fight when they still had four machine guns - this was after all normal practice with the B and C wing Spitfires where there was less firing time for the cannon than for the machine guns. Or for that matter over Darwin, where jamming of the Hispanos again became a severe operational problem. I don't think there is any room for doubt that the initial deliveries to 19 Sq lacked the Brownings: the question is whether they were simply B wings without the mgs or a somewhat different build standard altogether.

However, having had second thoughts myself I'm sure you are right that there would have been other implications regarding up-arming and the appropriate place to do so. Aircraft built to rely upon solely a cannon armament may well have had the basic structure to take them but would lack cabling to fire them, and the appropriate mountings en-route.

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Note item 5; this was the preparation for the first cannon-armed Spitfire L1007:-

1B-cannon_zps4wykq7yi.jpg

The earliest reference that I can find, is modification 260 "To replace 4 of the 8 Brownings (fitted as standard) by 2-20mm cannon guns"

Going by normal Air Ministry parlance, "replace 4" = leave the other 4 in place (or, at least, their fittings.) This mod was first discussed in committee 3-7-40, then 19-9-40, and was eventually "cleared" 19-4-41.

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Being quite sure that I've seen this described elsewhere rather than dreaming it up after eating some bad cheese, I turned to Alfred Price's "The Spitfire Story", from p72 onwards. L1007 was the first experimental aircraft, shown with and described as two cannon only. In trials, stoppages under g were blamed on the non-rigid mounting, the gun having been originally designed for a central engine mounting, not a twisting wing, and here being canted on its side. Price goes on to quote from ACM Dowding's letter to the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair on 24th July: "The present situation is that the guns of about six Spitfires in No 19 Squadron are working properly....the cannon Spitfire is badly equipped to meet German fighters because it only has two guns... the eight-gun fighter is a better fighting machine than one equipped with two cannon only." Price goes on to describe the failures in action 16th/19th/24th and 31st August, and the replacement with 8xBrowning fighters on 4th September.

92 Sq received some Mk.IB in November. "The revised mountings and feed systems were at last made to work properly...".

Could CIG mean "Cannon inclined gun"? Maybe, maybe not. The story this tells me is that the initial installation without mgs didn't work: that 19 Sq were equipped with a cannon fitting that didn't work any better and no mgs, and that the final installation did work. But what isn't clear from this information was whether 19 Sq was equipped the original installation, modified or otherwise, or an early standard of B wing lacking the mgs and yet to have all the bugs worked out. I suspected the answer may be found in books on RAF armament that better describe the problems with the canted installation and its feed, but these were of mixed value.

There is a statement (The Guns of the RAF 1939-45, G.F Wallace) that the solution to the feed problems lay in the change from a 60 round magazine to a belt-feed. The problem here is that this change can be found linked to the Mk.VC, the Mk.VB still having the magazine (The Spitfire Mk.V Manual), whereas the production of the initial belt feed is cleared in September 1940, with the first feeds "early in 1941 and by the spring they were reaching the Service in quantity" (Wallace). This is a good year in advance of the Mk.VC, yet is later than the November 1940 appearance of the working B wing.

And there's still no guide to the external appearance.

British Aircraft Armament, Wallace Clarke, tells an abbreviated version of the same story, but includes a photo of a Hurricane Mk.IIc of 1 Sq with the belt feed mechanisms. Perhaps that's where they all went in 1941?

Edited by Graham Boak

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