K5054 : Birth of a Thoroughbred K5054 was the Air Ministry registration given to the (Vickers) Supermarine Type 300 prototype. Construction of K5054 began in Dec 1934 and her maiden flight was on 5 march 1936 at Eastleigh_Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport) piloted by Vickers' chief test pilot Joseph "Mutt" Summers. Minor modifications and refinements were made to the Type 300 as suggested by flight trials over the following months, and K5054 emerged as the pattern for the production version of the now legendary Supermarine Mk.I Spitfire. The final cost of K5054 totalled U+20A4 20,765. The Air Ministry paid U+20A4 12,478 and Rolls Royce paid U+20A4 7,500, leaving Supermarine's final cost for building the Type 300 prototype Spitfire at U+20A4 787. Britain's Air Ministry were so impressed with this new interceptor or 'killer-fighter' that prior to the full test programme being completed, they issued a contract for 310 Spitfires on 3 June 1936. Whilst Mk.I production got underway, K5054 was further refined and modified to become the pattern for the sucessive Mk.II and Mk.III Spitfires. On 22 March 1937, during performance trials at Martlesham Heath, K5054 suffered an oil pressure failure and was damaged during a belly landing, but was repaired. On 4 September 1939 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, K5054 nosed over on landing and, whilst the fuselage was left intact, the cockpit was crushed. The pilot F/Lt White died of injuries caused by the mast, mounted atop the fuselage behind the pilot, being pushed down through the fuselage and pulling the Sutton seat harness back with such a force that he bent the back of the seat on impact with it (a modification was later made to the run of the cable that anchored the Sutton seat harness to the rear of the fuselage in production aircraft). The accident that destroyed K5054 occurred the very day after Britain declared war on Germany. Specifications Vickers-Supermarine Type 300 Production Head of Design Team: Reginald J. Mitchell (until d.1937) Joseph Smith Design Office: Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd, Woolaston, Southampton Role: Interceptor fighter Crew: One Engine: One liquid cooled, 12 cylinder Vee, Rolls-Royce Merlin C 990 hp (738 kW)* Armament: None initially. Later eight 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine-guns in wings, with 300 rounds per gun. Dimensions: Length 29 ft 11 in (9.12 m) Height (to tip of prop) 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m) Wing Span 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m) Wing Area 242.0 sq ft (22.48 sq m) Weights: Empty (Tare) 4,082 lb (1854 kg) Fully Loaded 5,359 lb (2,434 kg) Performance: Maximum level speed 349 mph (562 kph) at 16,800 ft (5,120 m) Initial rate of climb 2400 ft/min (731 m/min) Time to 15,000 ft (4,570 m) 5 min 52 sec Service ceiling 35,400 ft (10,790 m) Endurance 1.78 hr * Later fitted with Merlin F 1,035 hp (772 kW) and then Merlin II 1,030 hp (768 kW).