Never in the field of human conflicts was so much owed by
so many to so few.
Maiden flight of the Supermarine Type 300 prototype serial K5054
took place on March 5th, 1936 at the Supermarine factory airfield in
Eastleight near Southampton. On May 26th, after a series of modifications and improvements it was handed over to The Aircraft & Armament
Experimental Establishment in Martlesham Heath for military trials. On
June 6th and 8th, during the oficial tests, 561 km/h speed was recorded
at the altitude of 5100 meters. On June 10th the Air Ministry confirmed
the official name given to the aircraft, Spitfire. As early as June 3rd, the
Ministry signed the contract B.527113/36 with Supermarine company for
the delivery of 310 production Spitfires Mk.I which were assigned serial
numbers K9787 through K9999 and L1000 through L1096. According to
the contract the deliveries should commence in October 1937 and end in
March 1939. Neither date was complied with due to the insufficient manufacturing capacity of the Supermarine company and generally difficult
introduction of the new manufacturing technologies. Despite the initial Su-
permarine resistance the capacity problem was resolved by creating the
large network of the sub-contractors who ultimately contributed with the
whole 4 fifth to the Spitfire Mk.I production. On June 11th, 1937, while
launching the large scale production, the Spitfire chief designer, Reginald
Mitchell passed away at the age of 42 and Joseph Smith took over his
position. The wing design and manufacturing were rather complicated
which led to the chronic delay in finalizing and delivery of the airframes.
Quite often the completed fuselages were waiting for the wings deliveries. Supermarine built 2 hangars in Eastleigh dedicated to the completion
of the airframes. On May 14th, 1938 the first production Spitfire Mk.I
K9787 took to the skies here.
First RAF unit re-equipped with Spitfire Mk.I was No. 19 Squadron led
by S/Ldr. Henry Cozens operating out of Duxford airfield, up until then
No 65 Squadron Spitfire Mk.Is. The aircraft are equipped with two blade propelers, bulged canopies
without the armored windshield, early type of the Pitot tube and the early antena mast.
INFO Eduard - August 2020