The Spitfire, also called Supermarine Spitfire, is the most famous plane of World War Two. The single-seat aircraft was the only British fighter in continuous production throughout the entire war. It became the backbone of the Royal Air Force Fighter Command and was most noted for beating back the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. The distinct elliptical wings were designed to have the thinnest possible cross section, which resulted in higher speeds than many other fighters of the day.
The Spitfire, renowned for winning victory laurels in the Battle of Britain (1940–41) along with the Hawker Hurricane, served in every theatre of the war and was produced in more variants than any other British aircraft. The airframe was so versatile that it was able to serve in many different capacities, including interceptor, photo reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, and trainer. The fighters provided crucial air support for the D-Day landings and many were adapted to be fighter-bombers to carry out attacks on German ground forces. Originally fitted with a 1,000-hp Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engine, the Spitfire was later adapted to handle the 2,300 horses cranked out by the massive Griffon engine also built by Rolls-Royce.
The Spitfire played its part in many of the crucial battles of World War Two giving the RAF a critical edge over the German Luftwaffe. The ground breaking original design meant the plane could be upgraded with new engines and armaments. As the war progressed so did the Spitfire. After the original designer RJ Mitchell died in 1937, his successor Joe Smith developed the fighter to make it faster and more powerful.
Fighter was designed by Reginald Mitchell of Supermarine Ltd., in response to a 1934 Air Ministry specification calling for a high-performance fighter with an armament of eight wing-mounted 0.303-inch (7.7-mm) machine guns. The airplane was a direct descendant of a series of floatplanes designed by Mitchell to compete for the coveted Schneider Trophy in the 1920s. One of these racers, the S.6, set a world speed record of 357 miles (574 km) per hour in 1929.