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Thread: Mark I Spitfires

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    Default Mark I Spitfires

    This Web page claims that there were three kinds of armament fitted to Mark I Spitfires, 4 by .303, 8 by .303 and 2 cannon + 4 by.303.


    Is that true?

    http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0011.html
    ( see immediately beneath the specifications panel).

    regards

    DaveW

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    Hi Dave
    According to Owen Thetford-Aircraft of the Royal Air Force, the initial Spitfire armament was 4x .303 Mg in the Mk1, increased to 8 with the designation Mk1A. in Feb 1939 a Spitfire was experimentally fitted with 2x20mm guns(it doesn't say if this was in place of some Mg's or all of them), and became the Mk1 B. 30 were delivered and flew operationally on trial in the B-o-B with 19 Sqn. They were not wholly successful and 19 Sqn reverted to 8 gun Mk1A's,having destroyed only 1 Do17 on 24/8/40. If you can find a copy of Famous Fighters of the Second World War by William Green there is more on the earlier armament variations, differing slightly in detail to Thetford.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thanks Dick, I had never been aware that the early Spits had just four guns. You live and learn!

    regards

    DaveW

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    The early Spitfires did not have four guns. The original design of the Spitfire was intended for four guns, but the design was altered to fit eight. This introduced the familiar elliptical wing, in order to give sufficient thickness outboard for the feed mechanism of the outer gun.

    I'm afraid the sources have confused matters.

    The a suffix designation was introduced in 1940 to differentiate the eight gun armament from the version with cannons, which became the b. Until then there have been no reason to use any additional identifier.

    Incidentally, I believe this is also true for the early Mk.IX, which was precisely that, not known as the Mk.IXc.

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    Default The Good Book sayth...

    I'm with Graham on this one, and so is Bruce Robertson, author of the Spitfire Bible "Spitfire - the Story of a Famous fighter".

    In Part Three, Forward, page 137, the Good Book sayth "Not until 1941, when cannon came into general use, did it become necessary to qualify the then standard 8 X .303 machine guns as 'A' type armament and the new 2 X 20 mm cannon + 4 X .303 machine guns as 'B' type armament."

    Further on, in Part Three Section One, on page 138, Robertson said unto the masses that the first Spit, K5054, was initially delivered with no armament, and later received 8 X .303 machine guns. The first production batch, K9787 to K9863, were all delivered with 8 X .303 machine guns.

    So endth the first lesson.

    But seriously, from what others have said here and elsewhere about the finicky nature of the Browning .303, it is very easy to picture that in the heat of battle some Spits took off with less than 8 working machine guns.

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    Default The lesser prophets

    I see that an earlier post invoked one of the lesser prophets, William Green. Reading from "Famous Fighters of the Second World War", page 127, Green speakth thusly of the Mk. 1: "Standard armament in what was subsequently to become known as the 'A' wing was eight .303 Browning machine guns...".

    Getting into the realm of the Really Obscure Prophets, Captain F.W. Hill of the Aeroplane and Armament Establishment at Martlesham Heath presented a paper at a conference at the Air Minstry on 19 July 1934 that stated that "at least eight guns firing one thousand rounds per minute each" were needed to defend Britain. (Quote from "The Battle of Britain" by Wood and Demspter.) The then CIC Air Defence Britain, ACM Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, was quoted as saying "eight guns was going a bit far". He was also fundamentally opposed to enclosed cockpits. Nevertheless, the 1935 specification F5/34 (that lead to the Spitfire and the Hurricane) called for eight guns from its first release.

    Thus endth the second lesson (for our British readers).

    Can I get an Amen? (for our american readers)

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    Bill and Graham thankyou for that. I feel better now!

    regards

    DaveW

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