Supermarine Spitfire Elliptical Elegance
Flight Journal|Annual 2020
Showing off the flowing curves of a jaguar ready to pounce, a Spitfire snugs in close, its pilot a picture of concentration as he carefully places the airplane exactly where he wants. It’s a timeless image of a timeless design.
BUDD DAVISSON

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfire Mk IIa powers through the English summer sky being flown by Flt Lt ‘Parky’ Parkinson. Serial number P7350 is the only Spitfire still flying to have seen combat in the legendary Battle of Britain fought during 1940..(Photo by John Dibbs/facebook.com/theplanepicture)

Reginald Mitchell laid down the original lines of the Spitfire at a time when the very word “fighter” meant a stack of fabric wings with flying wires coupled to big, exposed wheels and outfitted with a few machine guns. While so many aircraft are inspired by others of similar function, the Spitfire was the first of a new breed. Although the move to monoplanes was already well under way worldwide, it was Mitchell who brought the soul of an artist to the engineers’ drafting table.

Whereas Willy Messerschmitt had a fixation with easily constructed straight lines, Mitchell’s sole goal was to cheat the wind through the merciless use of compound curves, tight seams and smoothly shaved rivets. It is said that the wind could flow from the huge spinner past the carefully formed compound cowl clear to the tail without a single discontinuity to disturb it.

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