Aviation Historian 36
M.Hiscock - A missed opportunity?
Последним самолетом Spitfire с мотором Merlin, поступившим на вооружение британских ВВС, стал Mk XVI, прослуживший до 1951 года. На фотографии представлен "Спитфайр" Mk.XVI на Среднем Востоке с увеличенным рулем направления, каплевидным фонарем и "обрезанным" крылом - типичный самолет поздней постройки из учебно-тренировочного подразделения.
The Spitfire Mk XVI was originally essentially a Mk IX with an American-built Packard Merlin 266 engine, but later production Mk XVIs incorporated a “low-back” aft fuselage with a teardrop canopy and the broader-chord rudder fitted to later production Mk IXs, all modifications which are visible on this Central Gunnery School Mk XVI.
Classic Charles E. Brown photograph of the all-yellow prototype Spitfire Trainer. A conversion from a standard Mk VIII (MT818) in 1946, this aircraft was flown as G-AIDN for nearly 40 years. In 1986 it was sold in the USA.
The prototype Tr.8 two-seat trainer, MT818, seen here wearing its B-Conditions marking N32. It was later put on the British civil register as G-AIDN and survives today with the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.
Rearward-cockpit Spitfires. The evolution of a speculative idea...
The Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk XVIII was built in two variants, the F.XVIII as a fighter-bomber and the FR.XVIII, as seen here, as a fighter-reconnaissance variant (note the camera aperture aft of the cockpit). The Mk XVIII had a “low-back” fuselage and teardrop canopy and a further enlarged rudder.
Seen here with a 170gal slipper tank on its centreline, the Griffon-powered Spitfire PR.XIX was the last of the type’s dedicated photo-reconnaissance variants and incorporated a “high-back” fuselage. The most suitable candidate for a potential specialised PR Spitfire variant with a rearward-located cockpit was probably the FR.XVIII.
What might have been? This artist’s impression by MARK HARRIS shows what a Griffon-powered “Spitfire PR.XVIII” - adapted for extended range with the cockpit relocated rearwards to accommodate more fuel and cameras - may have looked like.