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Bjorn

Best and worst Spitfire?

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(This one is moved from the Spitfire thread)

 

I am planning a thematic build, and have two questions to you all Spitfire experts:

 

- Which Spitfire version was the ultimate Spitfire? And I mean compared to contemporary fighters in service, not compared to other Spitfire versions.

- And, which one was the worst? Still compared to contemporary aircraft.

Suggestions so far: Best: Early Mk I, Mk XIVe and IX. Worst: Mk. II, V (late in service), V trop., VI 21, 24. But all suggestions are welcome!

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That's Mk.II (LR) for worst- nothing particularly wrong with the regular Mk.II, except that it missed its moment.

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Best: Without doubt the Mk.XIV, according to the criteria you mentioned. 

 

Just read Peter Brother's recommendation based on his first experience with it when being bounced by FWs.

 

 

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Very subjective question. 

 

A lot of pilots included Johnny Johnson consider the Mk. IX to be the ultimate spitfire.

 

 

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As mentioned in the other thread, I would probably vote for the Mk.IX for the best, where best is defined according to your critera.

The IX was not the best Spitfire and wasn't even the best Merlin equipped Spit variant, as the Mk.VIII was superior in several aspects. However when the Mk. IX entered service in early 1942 it had a good degree of superiority over other enemy and allied fighters.

The Mk.XIV could be a good second, but in early '44 had some competition, for example from the Tempest V.

Later variants were probably even superior to the Spit XIV but at that point jet aircraft were in service and no Spit variant was superior to these.

 

For the worst I suggested the Spit V trop, not because this was a bad variant, afterall Spit Vc with tropical filters served with distinction up to the very end of the war. The tropical filters however reduced performance to a level that made these Spitfires not much superior and often inferior to the opposition. For this reason these would fit your criteria.

The Mk.21 would be another very strong contender, as by then the jet engine had made all prop driven fighters obsolescent. This of course applies to all late Spitfires but the 21 also had several problems that other variants didn't have.

 

Now if we extend the discussion to Seafires, then maybe the Mk.XVII could be even worse than the Mk.V trop, as when this variant entered service it was not only being made obsolescent by jet powered fighters but was also outperformed by types that had entered service earlier during the war. No surprise that this variant had a very brief career in frontline service (but stayed in service for quite a long time in secondary roles).

 

P.S. Of course the very worst would have been the Spitfires floatplanes, but I'm limiting myself to the proper production variants here

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I've always thought of the Mark V as the least competitive, with, as Giorgio says above, the trop versions at the bottom of the barrel.

 

I disagree on the Mark 21, as there never were many German jets, but it did suffer from a number of issues not really fixed until the Mark 22.

 

For best, it's hard to argue with the XIV, fast, heavily armed, and still more maneuverable than German types. The Mark IX was certainly the best looking, and with her sisters remained competitive from 1942 to 1945, no mean feat. 

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I agree with the statements above about the MK’s. IX & XIV. However my personal favorite is the Mk.XII just something about it that says this is right.  

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54 minutes ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

I agree with the statements above about the MK’s. IX & XIV. However my personal favorite is the Mk.XII just something about it that says this is right.  

But certainly not the best -- but if it is beauty competition, perhaps (although personally, I go for the Mk.I).

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as posted when originally asked

 

Quote

Which Spitfire version was the ultimate Spitfire? And I mean compared to contemporary fighters, not compared to other Spitfire versions.

 

Spitfire I when it entered service in 1938?   The only other competition could be the Bf109, and not sure if the E model had entered service at that point. (wiki says late 1938...) 

Quote

 

  46 minutes ago, Bjorn said:

- And, which one was the worst? Still compared to contemporary aircraft.

 

Much harder, some suggestions.

If you are talking it's actual contemporaries, especially opposition, then again, Spitfire V when the Fw190 came into service in France,  the only thing it could do better was turn... 

Or possibly the Spitfire 24 when compared to early jets?

The Spitfire 21 was noted for having a lot of problems when it entered service, and it still had the high back,  so that is a possibility.

 

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18 minutes ago, Nocoolname said:

Can I just point out that Spitfire is an early US spec 1500 - see badges, side reflectors and big overriders.  And French Blue was very rare on Spits though common on other Triumphs of the period.  My 1975 1500 was the only UK one I ever saw that colour, in 25 or so years I’ve only ever seen one IV  in French Blue and that photo is the third example.

BTW there can be no such thing as a 1974 Spitfire4 as a Spitfire4 was what became known as a Mark 1.

 

Anyway, apart from my 1500 the best looking Spitfire is obviously the Macau GP example http://forum.autoportal.iol.pt/viewtopic.php?t=314&start=20

Edited by malpaso

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I was lucky enough to have known and also corresponded with several Spitfire pilots over the years and from the ones I have spoken to there seemed to be a trend about what they thought about the different marks, at least with the wartime examples.

 

The favourite as a fighter with the majority of those I have known was the IX. Interestingly of those who had flown the XIV and although it seems they thought it was capable, it wasn't hugely loved by the pilots I knew and was viewed as a bit of a handful with one even calling it a "bitch". On another note two of the fellows I knew said that the II was the nicest to fly - not to fight in but just the joy of flying.

 

Not terribly scientific but then again they were doing the job of flying the things so I suppose that gives some clout to their opinions.

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I know of Johnson's preference for the IX, but still, the XIV carried the design further. The Mk.Ix would hardly have been able to take on a FW190D or a TA152. 

 

On the other hand, the Me262 created a totally different story. 

 

It was also interesting the comparison between the Spitfire and the Tempest which someone brought up. That deserves a separate discussion. 

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Don't write off the Mk Vc trop. I'm presently reading Anthony Cooper's Darwin Spitfires, from which it's clear that, for all their problems, the pilots of 1 Fighter Wing RAAF were more than glad to have them in Darwin during 1942-43! (A great read, BTW - pulls no punches, dispels more than a few myths and highlights yet again the disparity between the pilots at the pointy end and the Chair Marshals further up the line.)

 

A question like this is highly subjective, and its answer depends on too many variables - the opinions and experience of the pilots involved, the available alternatives, the quality of the opposition, etc., etc. - to say more than "This is one point of view".

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Well the Mk VI was a dud - it took the Mk VII to sort the problems of high altitude work out but that was a fairly minor application of the whole breed. From what I've read the Mk IX and the Mk XIV were the pick of the crop but with the Spitfire they were all pretty effective until advances in the opposition rendered a particular mark obsolescent. But that said the Mk I was a damned effective fighter in the Battle of Britain and the horribly ugly Vokes filter fitted MK Vs did sterling service despite that drag inducing nose job. 

 

After the Mk XIV came into service all the subsequent marks were rapidly overtaken by jets anyway so while they were in Spitfire terms fine aircraft they were in reality now behind the game. So it's all a bit relative. The Mk I was the pick in 1940, just as the Mk IX and Mk XIV were the pick in later years. My favourite appearance wise is the Mk IX but that has nothing to do with combat effectiveness.      

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I was fortunate to speak with a few Spitfire Pilots when I was younger, including Johnny Johnson himself (still have the autograph!).

 

8 hours ago, Oberleutnant said:

A lot of pilots included Johnny Johnson consider the Mk. IX to be the ultimate spitfire

That is exactly what he told me, also mentioning that he considered it to be the best looking Mk. as well. 

 

2 hours ago, Smithy said:

Interestingly of those who had flown the XIV and although it seems they thought it was capable, it wasn't hugely loved by the pilots I knew and was viewed as a bit of a handful with one even calling it a "bitch".

Several times I heard the XIV regarded very highly as a weapon, save for it's average range. The recurring grumble about the XIV seemed to be it's handling and engine-management....I recall Mr. Johnson himself saying something along the lines of the IX being a finely-tuned sportscar to fly, whereas the XIV was a heavy brute that required a lot of rudder work and didn't like fine-adjustments to power settings.

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3 hours ago, NPL said:

I know of Johnson's preference for the IX, but still, the XIV carried the design further. The Mk.Ix would hardly have been able to take on a FW190D or a TA152. 

 

 

Quite a few 190Ds were shot down by Spitfire IXs, so...

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Changing tack, I would make a suggestion that the Mk.XIX may have been the most successful of all Spitfires. It certainly was a very difficult aircraft to intercept, with the Me 262 being the only Luftwaffe fighter that stood any chance of catching it. If the Spitfire was flying near its operational ceiling (42,000 ft) however, it stood no chance. Post war, not until the MiG-15 entered service did the Soviet Union have an aircraft that could catch it, and then only if it was in a good position. No.81 Squadron operated flights over China during 1950. Remember too that the last operational RAF Spitfire sorties were made by Mk.XIXs, in April 1954.

 

It was, in my view, the most graceful of all Spitfires, with its long Griffon nose, clean wings and high backed fuselage. The shiny PRU blue surface was the icing on the cake.

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Mk VIII just because.   It was actually the best Merlin Spitfire and has the best and most interesting painting options.

 

thanks

Mike

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My favourite Spitfire? It has to be the low backed, clipped wing Mk XVI. 

My worst Spitfire? There isn't one. 

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12 hours ago, NPL said:

I know of Johnson's preference for the IX, but still, the XIV carried the design further. The Mk.Ix would hardly have been able to take on a FW190D or a TA152. 

 

On the other hand, the Me262 created a totally different story. 

 

It was also interesting the comparison between the Spitfire and the Tempest which someone brought up. That deserves a separate discussion. 

 

But the 190D and TA-152 were not contemporaries of the Spitfire IX. Or better, when they entered service the Spit IX was still widely in service but when the Spit IX entered service the two German types were probably not even on the drawing board.

No doubt that the XIV was superior to the IX in terms of performance, although as mentioned by many this came at the cost of a more difficult aircraft to fly for the pilot (not surprisingly).

It should be noted that Merlin and Griffon engined Spitfires met over Palestine but the clashes between RAF FR.18s and Israeli and Egyptian Mk.IXs all involved several unusual factors to give a clear understanding of how superior the 18 was to the IX.

 

 

12 hours ago, Admiral Puff said:

Don't write off the Mk Vc trop. I'm presently reading Anthony Cooper's Darwin Spitfires, from which it's clear that, for all their problems, the pilots of 1 Fighter Wing RAAF were more than glad to have them in Darwin during 1942-43! (A great read, BTW - pulls no punches, dispels more than a few myths and highlights yet again the disparity between the pilots at the pointy end and the Chair Marshals further up the line.)

 

A question like this is highly subjective, and its answer depends on too many variables - the opinions and experience of the pilots involved, the available alternatives, the quality of the opposition, etc., etc. - to say more than "This is one point of view".

 

Absolutely, the Vc in trop guise was the workhorse of the RAF, the RAAF and other air forces in both the Med and the Pacific and served well til the end of the war. At the same time in 1942-43 this variant was not ahead of the competition as the standard Spitfire V was inferior to the FW.190 and the trop variants would have been at an even worse disadvantage. In other theatres this was not an issue as the enemy fielded aircraft with lower performance, like the Model 32 Zero that the RAAF would have met over Darwin.

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46 minutes ago, Giorgio N said:

Absolutely, the Vc in trop guise was the workhorse of the RAF, the RAAF and other air forces in both the Med and the Pacific and served well til the end of the war

Which is why I'm surprised that to this day, there isn't a high-end kit (Tamigawa/Eduard etc) representing the Vc on the market...so many different interesting liveries and marking options for them.

 

10 hours ago, Truro Model Builder said:

It was, in my view, the most graceful of all Spitfires, with its long Griffon nose, clean wings and high backed fuselage. The shiny PRU blue surface was the icing on the cake.

Amen! 

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The best ones had foldy wings and deck hooks.😎

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18 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Agreed not the best performance and ability wise. But for looks alone the Mk.XII is my favorite. 

'Winkle' Brown thought that the Mk.XII was the best, mainly for its balance between power, performance and handling.

 

Worst - don't know - maybe ANY version armed only with rifle-calibre guns - lacked firepower.

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