The Supermarine Spitfire flew for the first time seventy-eight years ago today. A single-seat fighter and interceptor, the Spitfire is the most famous British aircraft of all time. A small, graceful, elliptical-wing fighter, the Spitfire was not only one of the best performing fighters, but also one of the best looking. Although less numerous than the Hawker Hurricane during the Battle of Britain, it is still remembered as the sleek thoroughbred that turned the tide during that campaign. The Spitfire was among the fastest and most maneuverable fighters of World War II and served in every combat theater. Two dozen variants were built, powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines.
The picture above captured a Spitfire at the 2010 Gathering of Eagles XIV Air Show. This Spitfire Mk IXe, production number MJ730, is from the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia. MJ730 was built in 1943 and flew 95 missions as escort for American bombers over northern Italy. Visit www.aviation-enthusiasts.com for more aviation and air show memories!