Spitfire armament

Discussion in 'Weapons Systems Tech.' started by Alban, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    Hi, I'm doing some research. It concerns the Spitfire more particularly it's amament.
    firstly, I gather the Spitfire could use the 60 Lb rocket, does anyone here know if this is right. If it is are there anywhere i could obtain some pictures. They don't have to be high quality just to get the jist of the thing. You know where they are sited, if they were used.
    Secondly, four cannon armament, Im certain they were used fairly frequently on the 5, I'm fairly sure it was used infrequently on the 14 and the 16, often two of the cannon being deleted in service. Was it used at all on the 9 or the 8. Certainly they both used the universal wing, which could in theory be fitted with that armament.
    I had read somwhere I can't reacll where that Spitfire ground crews were sometimes asked to delete the 303 armament from Spit 9's which were found to be of little effect in combat, to lighten the plane. Does any one have any evidince of this, this is something i was prettyl leary about when i read about it some time ago. Way back god knows when in a magazine, so don't ask me to quote it.
    Love the site WW2 warbirds the berries.

    All the best
    Alban
     
  2. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    The Spitfire did use the 60 lbs RP-3 rocket, but generally only with a single rocket on each wing, at least in the ETO and 2 TAF. It was used as a substitute for the 250 lbs bomb when supply and logistic difficulties raised their head (pilots generally preferred the bombs*). 74 Squadron is the only unit known to have fired them during WW2.

    I have seen the triple/quad mount in photos, although I believe these were trail installations and not used in combat. There are several pictures of Spitfires equipped with rockets in Morgan Shacklady's "Spitfire the History". Later Spitfire (mostly post war) could be equipped with the 60lbs duplex rocket (essentially two 60lbs rockets wired together). I believe some were used in the Malayan conflict.

    As for the 4 x 20 mm armament, it was not common with any Spitfire, even the Mk V. Early Mk Vs, with the A or B type wing, could not carry four cannon, only later build Mk Vs with the Type C wing could.

    The few squadrons that did use four cannon Mk Vs were operational in either North Africa or the Mediterranean, around late 1942 through to late 1943. I believe that there were problems with heating the outer cannon bay in the colder, and wetter, climes of Northern Europe, meaning that the armament was rarely used.

    There was at least one South African squadron that used all cannon armament (and there is an accompanying photo that is one of the more famous Spitfire shots) in North Africa. George 'Buzz' Beurling and several other pilots also recount using four cannon Mk Vs in the defence of Malta in 1943, and I have read other accounts of their use during the invasion of Sicily.

    Production of the Type C wing started with a wide ‘teardrop’ type upper wing surface blister to accompany the four cannon armament, but eventually reverted to the narrow blister, as the singe 20 mm and paired .303 combination was more common. Most Mk IX production had the more streamlined smaller blister. It’s a chief identification point when looking at those Mk IXs that were converted from Mk Vs.

    Mk VIII squadrons also used the four cannon armament, but it was even less common than the Mk V. There is even a picture of an RAAF HF Mk VIII with four cannon armament, making it a VERY rare configuration indeed.

    As for removing the .303s to lighten the aircraft, it did happen, but was not a common practice as far as I understand, and was mostly reserved for aircraft that need to operate at very high altitudes. I was done out of Egypt (Aboukir most likely), and possibly out of Scapa Flow as well. Some high alt Mk IVs, and converted Mk Vs and Mk IXs even went the other way, removing the 20mms and leaving just the .303s.


    *As an aside, 2TAF Typhoon pilots were generally trained only to operate with rockets or bombs, not both, as accuracy with either required a lot of practice. Spitfires generally only used bombs.
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good concise answer Jab'. I believe later Mark Spits were also cleared to mount 'zero length' rocket stubs, for the HVAR, but I don't have any readily available information regarding use, other than trials. The multiple 'Bazooka' tube mounting was also tested, but not used. For your research, I would also reccomend Shacklady's book, along with Dr.A. Price's 'Spitfire'.
    If you can't locate any suitable picutures, let me know, and I'll see what I can dig out for you.
     
  4. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    Hi, thanks for the obvioulsly well researched answers which in fact answers pretty much what i wanted to know. The only other point was that i'm not sure if there was 4 cannon armament on the XIV as an occasional instaltion, also the XVI, again occasionaly. I also read that the two canon armament was considerd enough on it's own and many 4 cannon planes had two deleted as the 4 Cannnons were considered heavy and not worth the performance deficit.
    Re the picture, even a sketch to show the mounting for the 60 Lb rocket would be fine, it's qaulity or size doesn't have to be that great, just enough that i have a good idea what the arangement looked like.
    Thanks enourmously for the time and trouble taken with the replies.

    All the best Alban
     
  5. fibus

    fibus Member

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    At least one mark of spitfire carried two 20mm and two .5 brownings.
    The history of the Hispano-Suiza is interesting. Unlike the 20mm Oerlikon the Hispano fired with alocked breech.
     
  6. fibus

    fibus Member

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    I forgot to add that all 20mm's are not created equal.
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Hi again Alban. AFAIK, the MkXIV only carried the two cannon/two .50 cal fit, with the earlier XIVc using the 2 x 20mm and 4 x .303. Likewise for the MkXVI. I'll probably be able to find and post some pics and/or drawings of the rocket installation(s), but I'm off on holiday early next week, so if you don't mind waiting?
    Terry.
     
  8. antoni

    antoni Banned

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    Early production Mk Vcs were fitted with four cannon, later production with two. In some cases the cannon stubs removed and the holes covered over.

    With the Mk IX the four-cannon option was abandoned for reasons of flight safety. The Certificate of Design for the type 361 stated; "to offset the increased weight of the powerplant the armament is limited to (a) 2 cannon and 4 Browning guns (b) 8 Browning guns." This was followed by Modification 683, dated 11th August 1942 (also aplicable to other marks, including the Mk V), to standardise armament as 4Browning .303 in. and 2 Hispano 20 mm. guns."

    In order to accommodate two cannon in the c wing, one had to be mounted slightly behind the other, and so its barrel did not protrude as far as its neighbour. This led to intellectually challenged nincompoops to deduce that four-cannon Spitfires were fitted with extra cannons that had shorter barrels.
     
  9. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    Hi, thanks the only disagreement I have is that i seen some info that the Mk16 did occasionaly have the 4 cannon armament. Thanks a lot for the trouble taken, it has put most of the research i wanted in place.
    On a tangent is there a site where i can get hold of the flight performance of the Recce versionsof the Spit, I've got some info on the differing performance from the original version but far from complete.
    When you are ready PM me and I'll send you my E-mail for the photo's if that's what you want.


    Thanks
    Alban
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    There were quite few different Recce versions of the Spitfire with different engines (single stage and two stage engines) and differnt fuel capacities, some of these versions were made in rather small numbers.
     
  11. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    If you would like a site with information on PR Spitfires this may be of interest.

    Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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  13. antoni

    antoni Banned

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  14. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    Okay is it just me or does it look weird that two MkIXc have different cannon fits. One the outer pair, and one the inner pair.
    Bloody RAF and their "every aircraft is unique" doctrine :p

    I once had this vet explain at length, answering the question of how fast was a Spit. Well that depends on the individual a/c son, some are pigs, some are gems. I had one that outperformed the listed maximum specifications easily and consistently once. Some examples in the same squadron couldn't get anywhere near it. That's the reality.

    No wonder when you get to the hardcore historians they're always talking about this tail-number or that. Such a case by case basis on just about everything it seems.
     
  15. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    The first one with the 20mm on the outside is normal for an E wing with 2 x 20mm and 2 x 0.5 HMG, the second one is normal for a C wing where the aircraft is fitted with 2 x 20mm and 4 x LMG.

    Re the rest of your statement it is normal for every aircraft to be different and common for an aircraft to be 'tuned' for a particular, normally experienced, pilots preference.

    I read a biography of a Beaufighters pilots life and he by fluke was given a new Beaufighter which he found was nearly 20mph faster than normal. He sensibly kept this as quiet as he could as he knew he would and in the end did, lose it to a more senior pilot when the news spread around.

    Its not a Bloody RAF Doctrine, its normal.
     
  16. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    Hi, great work you guys, everyting i wanted to know, thanks a lot to the folks at this site for thier help.

    All the best and good luck with a rockin' site that I'll keep visiting regular.
    Alban
     
  17. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    #17 Alban, Sep 8, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
    Hi, I've dug up a bit more on the Spitfire Mk VIII 4 cannon armament, I have a painting of one in as predicted RAAF colours and also a E-document also from the RAAF about the subject. I'll post them on the site when i can figure out how to. A photograph of a VIII with 4 cannon was mentioned. Is it possible to post this as per the exelent and useful pics of the Spits with rocket armament to post this even just the section with the armament would be very helpful.

    Thanks
    Alban

    Hi, got the pictures and the document i snagged on the net to work, if they are any use at all just help yourself
     

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