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Thread: How much for that Spitfire Mister?

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    Default How much for that Spitfire Mister?

    I think this topic has been aired before (probably several times), but I have been caught short again, and do not have some of the critical references available. Could anybody suggest the approximate full price of a Spitfire during WW2, also perhaps, for comparison purposes, a Lancaster? Just a "normal" run-of-the-mill factory standard example of each type in mid-war period when production was at full throttle - nothing fancy. I realise that probably every production batch would have a newly negotiated price, and that as new and better equipment was developed the type's equipment scale would change, but just to start the ball rolling I have an idea that a new wartime Spitfire would retail (just kidding) for something in the order of 25 - 30,000 pounds Sterling, with almost half of that for the engine alone. Any general breakdown of costs would be a bonus - say, engine (plural for Lancaster), propeller(s), wireless (radio) equipment, guns, instruments. I have also recently discovered (perhaps you already know) that if you wished to contribute money towards the "purchase" of a new Spitfire (or Hurricane, or Defiant) early in WW2 (1941) you could either order them one at a time for a nominal 5000 pounds, or you could order them by the squadron (18 aircraft I presume) for a total of 100,000 ponds, the catch being that the individually named aircraft were NOT replaced (named), whereas your squadron of fighters would be named in your honour for duration of the war. The example I was given (from RNZAF file originating with the NZ Liaison Officer at Kingsway) was a fictional No.190 (New Zealand) Squadron. I believe you could sponsor a Stirling at about this stage of the war for 20,000 pounds - no doubt the book of RAF "Gift" aircraft (which I do not have access to here and now) contains this sort of unformation.
    David D

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    David,

    Yes, £5,000 for a presentation Spitfire. London Times 30 November 1940:

    "The Netherlands East Indies is making Mr. Winston Churchill, who is 66 to-day, a birthday present of seven Spitfires. In a telegram to Lord Beaverbrook, Minister for Aircraft Production, yesterday, the local Spitfire Fund organizers state:- To-morrow (Saturday) we are remitting to Mr. Churchill £35,000 as a birthday present for seven Spitfires. Please christen them Ceram, Batavia, Bandoeng, Merapi, Soebang, Toba, and O.A.B."

    "Soebang" (P8332), the last surviving presentation Spitfire, is currently on display at the Canadian War Musem.

    http://www.aviation.technomuses.ca/collections/artifacts/aircraft/SupermarineSpitfireMkIIB.shtml

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    I've read in several references that a Lanc. cost about £50,000 to build.
    Max

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    THE COST OF A SPITFIRE In 1940
    (includes a general breakdown or parts etc, but does not include the cost of actually training a pilot!)

    http://www.the-battle-of-britain.co.uk/machines/Spitcost.htm

    And the cost of US aircraft can be found:

    http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/aafsd/aafsd_list_of_tables.html

    Somewhere I have a few more British aircraft that I'll try to find.

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    Ken, Max and Amrit, many thanks for your interest, am checking out the suggested sites. I know that RAF fighters could be "bought" for 5000 pounds, but this was in reality a sort of "Naming right" (as common with regard to large sports stadia in this day and age) and bore no relationship to the actual cost of a fighter; for instance the true cost of an Airspeed Oxford in 1941 was more than 5000 pounds, that is a wooden trainer (admittedly twin-engined) with no armament and no radio gear. A Tiger Moth ordered from DHNZ in 1939 had a contract preice of about 1500 pounds complete with full dual instruments and a blind flying hood. By ordering large numbers a substantial reduction in unit cost was normal; prewar a Tiger Moth with similar equipment to the DHNZ example above was about 1700 pounds.
    David D
    David D

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    Everyone wanted to contribute.

    "By the sale of German leaflets recently dropped on South Wales, Lady Leighton Seger has raised more than £50 towards the cost of a Spitfire"

    "The gift of £5.00 from Aylesbury Gaol towards the cost of a Spitfire comes in part from the earnings of the women prisoners"

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    Gawd:

    "Cost" in this case, is akin to "profit", since it's an opinion.


    (Reaches for vial of morphine, only way I can deal with accounting.)


    Don't try to compare US/UK costs - the mechanics of the calculation on opposite sides of the Atlantic were completely different.

    (More morphine)


    Man-hours are a far more reliable indicator of the costs involved than MAP price books.


    Sebastian Ritchie has written a good book called "Air Industry and Air Power" which covers some of the economics involved. He states: "The first production Lancaster at A.V. Roe cost £22,000, but by 1944 the price had fallen to £15,500." He cites MAP price books as the source.


    Some other bomber prices, again citing MAP price books (and describing the dangers of same) are to be found in this document:

    http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/664/2/adt-NU20050104.11440202whole.pdf


    Uh, so, which Spitfire you want?

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    mhuxt,
    Yes, the main problem with this sort of thing is that no single aircraft was ever entirely built by one manufacturer, and contracts often gave a false impression to the uninitiated of what was actually being supplied. I know that American military aircraft for instance were often stated to be such and such a price (then noted as inclusive or exclusive of GFE;- GFE = Government Furnished Equipment). In other words the Government actually placed contracts with various manufacturers to supply radio, radar, armament, hydraulic, radiators, electrical, instruments, wheels, engines, propellers, firefighting equipment, safety equipment, etc, etc. Frequently aircraft were delivered to the RAF from manufacturers in WW2 without much of the removable equipment actually fitted, the latter then being added at various MUs, etc, which specialised in this sort of thing. I believe that guns, bomb racks, etc, were often in this category, although turrets for instance may well have been installed in the factory by arrangement for convenience, although payment for these would obviously be made direct to the original manufacturer. So the "price" paid by the government for a Lancaster might be for the bare airframe alone, which did not include costs of engines, undercarriage, radios etc, but might include installation costs for same which had to be undertaken by the factory staff.
    Another place you can sometimes locate aircraft costs is from equipment files. When an aircraft was "written off" or "struck off charge", the equipment (actually accounting) staff had to put in the extent of the loss and quote an actual loss figure, based presumably on a standardised figure for the aircraft type, and including all the fitted equipment known to be lost with the aircraft. Often such figures are "written down" from the date the aircraft was taken on charge, so an old aircraft was less valuable than a new one. Frequently these calculations and assumptions were not shown in the bare statement of finacial loss suffered. All in all a rather complex business. Still, accounting officers could usually supply the figures for a complete and fully equipped aircraft, something that the manufatcurer could not in fact do as they simply did not have access to the government figures for all the other components which made up the whole.
    David D

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    For what it's worth, on 30 December 1938, 41 Squadron commenced re-equipping with the Spitfire when the first two Mark I, K Series, aircraft arrived: K9831 and K9832.

    Two further machines, K9833 and K9835, arrived on 3 January 1939, followed by K9836 and K9837 on 5 January, K9838 and K9839 on 11 January, K9840 on 13 January, K9842 and K9844 on 16 January, K9845 on 17 January, K9846 and K9847 on 22 January, K9848, K9849 and K9850 on 26 January, and finally K9843, K9855 and K9890 on 4 February, completing a full complement of 20 aircraft.

    The Squadron's first five aircraft, K9831-33 and K9835-36, cost the Air Ministry £8,738 each. The subsequent 15, numbered K9837-K9840, K9842-K9850, K9855 and K9890 cost £5,696 each. The squadron’s re-equipment with all 20 aircraft therefore cost the princely sum of £129,130.

    By way of (very rough) comparison, today an AIM-9 Sidewinder Air to Air missile costs about USD$84,000 (Ref. http://www.hill.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=5788), which is, for the sake of argument, about GBP£42,000. So today, for that money, you'd get a total of three Sidewinders!

    Cheers
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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