Spitfire I: A British Legend

The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most enduringly famous planes of World War II. It is possibly one of the most well-known planes that ever existed. Countless books, films and programs have been made about this legendary plane, ensuring that its memory lives on through the generations.

Due to its legendary real-life reputation, many World of Warplanes players expect big things from the in-game version of the Spitfire. Now that the British branch has been delivered in version 0.5.3, let's see if the Spitfire lives up to its sky-high reputation!

The Spitfire I In-game

Technological Progression

In the game, you'll find the Spitfire I on tier V of the British fighter branch. For only 16,000 XP and a reduced price of 342,000 Credits, you get a great, all-around plane, capable of measuring up well to its counterparts on the same tier.

 

Profile and Tactics

Right off the bat, you see that airspeed and manoeuvrability are its outstanding qualities. It is here that the Spitfire musters an impressive 505 and 334 score, respectively. While other tier V fighters boast the same kind of manoeuvrability, only the American P-40 manages to outperform the Spitfire in speed, making it one of the fastest fighters out there. Another thing that you'll notice immediately when taking the seat in your Spitfire cockpit is the aircraft's incredible rate of climb. At 13.8 m/s, the Spitfire climbs faster and further on its basic stock engine than other planes of even higher tiers with a fully upgraded motor. Thanks to the powerful Merlin II 1030 h.p. engine, you'll be able to reach your optimal altitude of 1,100 meters quickly, while at the same time being capable of effortlessly diving at over 600 km/h when coming down on your opponents.

With values like these, you will even be able to employ vertical combat tactics -- something that is pretty rare on this tier, and usually only seen much later with jet-powered aircraft of higher levels. That being said, the Spitfire is still very much a 'Turn-and-Burn' fighter that will excel if you use its escalating skills in combination with a low optimum altitude. In other words, use your climb in the beginning to gain altitude fast, come down hard on your opponents, and stay low during combat. When on defense, make use of your engine's prowess to ascend higher than your competitors and escape dicey situations ,or even turn the dogfight's course to your advantage.

Overall, with the Spitfire, you get a great fighter with a lot of style that has no real weaknesses, and does a lot of things right. The plane's marvel of an engine gives you opportunity for vertical combat if you want to switch it up from the usual fighter-like gameplay. At the same time, your guns, even on the stock version, are strong enough to rip apart whatever prey you may encounter and offer great reliability with virtually no overheating issues. This, combined with the very pleasant handling and overall manoeuvrability of the plane, turns the Spitfire into a very efficient aircraft, which everybody from beginners to pros can appreciate.

 

Upgrades

In terms of upgrades, the Spitfire is as simple as they come and doesn't leave much room for error, with only a few extra modules available for engine, frame and one additional gun configuration. 


Airframe

As with many fighters, the Spitfire suffers from a pretty weak structure, which on the stock model only amounts to a meager 180 HP. You can counter that effectively by upgrading to the Spitfire II airframe early, which will give you a much needed 20 extra HP, an even higher diving speed, and a faster turning time with virtually no performance cost in other departments.

Name Weight Hit Points
Spitfire I 1775 kg 180
Spitfire II 1800 kg 200

 

Engine

Since the rate of climb is the key stat for your Spitfire, you should not hesitate to upgrade the engine as soon as you can to further bolster your plane's survival chances. We recommend you skip the first two engine upgrades and jump directly to the top Merlin XX powerhouse. It is with this beast of a motor that you will gain the biggest climb boost -- 4.2 additional m/s that will further set you apart and put you head and shoulders above the competition.

 

Name Weight Type Power
Merlin II 717 kg Water-cooled 1030 h.p.
Merlin III 719 kg Water-cooled
1050 h.p.
Merlin XII 720 kg Water-cooled
1175 h.p.
Merlin XX 730 kg Water-cooled
1480 h.p.

 

Weapons

You don't need to worry much about your shooting capabilities either. Although the eight .303 Browning Mk. II (W) MGs only amount to a minimal 78 firepower on the stat sheet, they pack a strong enough punch to deal with all of the opponents that you'll encounter. While it's true that you will probably need multiple runs to finish off Heavy Fighters or Attack Aircraft, you should be able to blast anything around 160-180 HP out of the sky in just one effective fly-by. On the stock configuration, your firing range is limited to 650 meters. Should you decide to upgrade to the stronger 20mm Hispano Mk. II (W) cannon, the maximum range increases enough to start firing at around 900m. However, the range at which you'll be the most effective for both configurations is still starting at 300m and less -- which is where you should be as a light fighter anyway. Since the stronger cannons substantially cut into your overall manoeuvrability without any real damage-dealing advantage (mostly because they overheat much quicker), you'll have to decide for yourself if adding the extra weight makes a difference for you.

 

Name Weight Calibre Rate of Fire Muzze Velocity Damage
4x .303 Browning Mk.II (W) 40 kg 7.7 mm 600 r/min 850 m/s 38
2x 20 mm Hispano Mk. II (W) 140 kg 20 mm 600 r/min 860 m/s 103

 

Equipment & Consumables

As far as equipment is concerned, you should primarily focus on parts that help improve your plane's durability. The first choice should be the Armoured Plexiglass, followed by Reinforced Covering to increase your overall resistance. If you're really tempted, you can add the Improved Reflector Sight. Although your guns are already pretty accurate for a plane with a wide shooting base of 8 wing-mounted MGs, sniping purists may want to add the upgrade just in case, to make aiming that little bit easier. However, since this piece of equipment is not really necessary and pretty expensive on top (at 250K it's not exactly a bargain), we recommend you save this upgrade for last, and first concentrate on the other essentials.

In terms of consumables, you can never go wrong picking a Manual Fire Extinguisher. If you've spent your pilot's XP on increasing view range or stamina (two popular choices for single-crew planes), carrying a little extra insurance in case of a fire is always a good thing to have. Apart from that, there's not much that the Spitfire really needs. Use your credits on the Pneumatic Restarter or a First Aid Dressing Package if you really want to play it safe and be ready for the worst case scenario. Avoid the 120-octane Gasoline, since you're already strutting one of the best engines in the field, and don't really need an additional boost to it -- especially if it comes at a 5K price tag.

History

The Supermarine company was founded in 1913 as Pemberton-Billing Ltd. Its name was changed in 1916 to reflect the fact that its focus was on building high-quality seaplanes. Indeed, it was so successful in this field that its planes won the prestigious Schneider Cup three times in a row during the 1920's. In 1928, the company was taken over by Vickers-Armstrong.

The earliest ancestor of the Spitfire was the Supermarine Type 224. This was one of the company's very first forays into the land-plane business, and was designed by Reginald J Mitchell, the designer of those famous seaplanes. This plane was a gull-winged monoplane (think F4U Corsair) with a 600 h.p. Rolls-Royce engine. However, before it even flew, Mitchell was not satisfied with it. He began to work on alternative designs independently from the company.

The new design, designated Type 300, featured a reduced wingspan and retractable undercarriage. Mitchell proposed it to the Air Ministry in 1934, but they were unimpressed. As a result, he went back to refine the design even further with support from Vickers, now replacing the engine with the new Rolls-Royce Merlin and adding an eight-gun battery. This time the Air Ministry was much happier and accepted the design.

The first prototype flew in 1936, and the first order for 310 machines was made. A year later, 200 more were ordered. However, Mitchell never saw them fly. He died of cancer later that year at the age of 42.

By the time Britain went to war in 1939, 2,143 aircraft had been ordered. Nine squadrons had been equipped with them, and two others were in the process of converting. By the following summer, 19 squadrons were equipped. These were the Mark I Spitfires, and they were the ones that proved so effective during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Although the Spitfire remains synonymous with the Battle of Britain, thev planes were actually outnumbered by the largely forgotten Hawker Hurricane. However, despite their fewer numbers, they outperformed the Hurricanes with a noticeably higher victory-to-loss ratio. The plane had excellent speed, rate of climb and manoeuvrability, which made it absolutely perfect for the dogfighting above the English Channel. This led to the famous quote made by German ace pilot Adolf Galland when Goering asked him what he needed to win the Battle of Britain. Galland's frank reply of 'a squadron of Spitfires' supposedly left Goering spluttering with rage.

The Spitfire was the only Allied plane to remain in continuous production throughout the duration of the war. However, it did go through a number of revisions during this time as new technology became available, with new versions being designated as Marks. As the war drew on, the Spitfire proved its versatility, and variants were created to suit the multitude of purposes. Some were designed specifically for high altitudes, and had a modified Merlin engine and longer wingtips. These were designated HF, while others were for specifically low altitude (LF). Different versions of the Merlin engine were equipped to achieve these objectives.  In total, there were around 46 different marks and variants, including some using the powerful Griffin engine at the end of the war. It is estimated that over 22,000 were built in total.

Despite the huge numbers built, only 47 aircraft are known to have survived to the present day in an airworthy condition. Sometimes they can be seen in action at air shows around the world. The oldest example can be found at the RAF Museum in Cosford, UK; a Mark I Spitfire that flew in the Battle of Britain. 

The Mark I Spitfire at the RAF Museum, Cosford