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The Spitfire

The Spitfire was a type of fighter aircraft used by the RAF during World War II. It had originally been designed by R. J. Mitchell in 1931 and had some iconic features, such as elliptical-shaped wings and a large propeller at the front. It was flown by a single pilot in the cockpit and was usually armed with four machine guns.

Ray Flying Legends 2005-1

During the Battle of Britain, the public believed that the Spitfire was THE RAF fighter of the battle. Although it wasn’t as effective as other fighters at attacking the German Luftwaffe planes, it did have the best chances of survival.

Most of the Spitfires were built at Castle Bromwich Aerodrome in the West Midlands – they had produced a total of 12,129 by the end of the war.

As the war progressed, it was modified and improved several times – it was fitted with more powerful engines and had more blades added to its tip to allow it to fly at higher altitudes. The final Spitfire of the war went into production in September 1944 and was named the Spitfire Mk XVI. It had a top speed of 405mph, making it one of the fastest fighters around.

Some Spitfires were fitted with cameras to take photos of enemy sites. These were then analysed by a team of photographic interpreters at RAF Medmenham in Buckinghamshire who would use a stereoscope to make the images appear in 3D. 36 million of these photographs were taken during World War II and they helped the British to identify new structures - such as German rockets and their launch sites.

Holmes stereoscope