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Great Britain's Supermarine Seafire naval fighter bomber

Photos

  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk IB fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk IB fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk IIC fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk III fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk XV fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk XV fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire Mk XV fighter
  • Supermarine Seafire

Design

Starting in 1940 there was interest in a carrier based Spitfire aircraft to be used with the Fleet Air Arm.1,4

A Spitfire Mk VB was modified in late 1941 by adding a tailhook.3 It was tested on the HMS Illustrious and concerns were expressed that the landing speed of the prototype was too great, however it was solved during the tests.3

Undercarriage

There were problems with the Seafire's narrow undercarriage.1 An a-frame arrestor hook was installed.2

Wings

The first model of Seafire to have folding wings was the Seafire F III.2,3 The wing tips were folder down, and then the wings folded up.3 This only added 125 lbs per plane.2 The fold was just inside the inner cannon and another fold on the wing tip.2 This allowed for easier storage in a carrier's hanger deck and made it easier for the plane to be moved around on deck.3

Prototype

During December 1941 Lt. Commander H. P. Bramwell made seven take offs and four catapult launches from the fleet carrier HMS Illustrious.2,3,5

The first prototype flew on January 7, 1942.1

The Seafire IIC first flew on May 28, 1943.2

Production

  • Seafire F.IB, Seafire IB2:
    • Conversions: 1661,2
      • Converted by: Air Service Training Limited (482)1,2, Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Limited (118)2, RAF Maintenance Unites (45)2, Supermarine1
    • Delivered between February 1942 and July 19431
  • Seafire II, Seafire IIC2: 4003
    • Conversions:
      • Converted by: Vickers-Supermarine on production line2
    • Manufacturer: Wetland Aircraft Limited.2
    • Delivery: June 19421, June 15, 19432
  • Seafire L IIC2: 3722
    • Manufacturer: Vickers-Supermarine (262)2, Westland Aircraft Limited (110)2
  • Seafire LR IIC2: ~302
    • Conversions: unknown number2
  • Seafire III: >1,1003
    • Production: April 1943 - July 19453, April 1943 - mid 19451
  • Seafire F III2: 1032
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Limited2
  • Seafire L III2, Seafire FR III2: 1,0602
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Limited2, Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Limited2
  • Seafire Mk XV3: 3903
  • Seafire Mk XVII3: 2323
  • Seafire F.453: 503
  • Seafire F.463:
  • Seafire F.473: 903
  • Manufacturer: Supermarine Division of Vickers-Armstrong's Ltd.3

Variants

  • Seafire BL676: Prototype.2 Converted Mk V.1 Had tail hook.1 Was Spitfire VB BL676.2 Was fitted with a tropical filter.2 A-frame arrestor hook.2
  • Seafire Mk I: Conversion of a Spitfire Mk VA.4 Arrestor hook and catapult spool installed.4
  • Seafire F.IB, Seafire IB: Converted Spitfire Mk Vs.1,2 Had vee frame arrestor hook.1,2 There was also a catapult spool.1,3 The fuselage was made stronger.3 Naval HF R/T, IFF, and Type 72 homing beacon was installed.2
  • Seafire II, Seafire IIC: Based on the Spitfire Mk VC.1,2,3 Had catapult attachment points.1 Arrestor hook was added.1 Undercarriage was made stronger.1 Could use RATOG (rocket assisted take off gear).1,3 Some had clipped wings.1 Some had Vokes tropical filter.1
  • Seafire F.IIC: Used Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 V 12 (1,470 HP) or Rolls-Royce Merlin 46 (1,415 HP) engine.1
  • Seafire L.IIC: Photo reconnaissance.3,5 Used Rolls-Royce Merlin 322,3 (1,645 HP) or Rolls-Royce Merlin 55M (1,585 HP) engine.1 Four bladed Rotol propeller was installed.2,3
  • Seafire LR.IIC: Photo reconnaissance.2,5 Used Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 (1,645 HP) or Rolls-Royce Merlin 55M (1,585 HP) engine.1 Had two F24 cameras.2 It kept its full armament.2
  • Seafire F.III: Had folding wings.1,2,3,4
  • Seafire FR.III: Used Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 (1,645 HP) or Rolls-Royce Merlin 55M (1,585 HP) engine.1 Had cameras.1
  • Seafire LF.III, Seafire L III2: Used Rolls-Royce Merlin 32 (1,645 HP) or Rolls-Royce Merlin 55M2 (1,585 HP) engine.1
  • Seafire LR.III: Photo reconnaissance.5
  • Seafire Mk XV: Larger fuel capacity due to rearrangement of fuel tanks.3 Folding wings.4 Deck arrestor gear added.4 New tail hook design.3 Went into service in May 1945.3
  • Seafire Mk XVII: Landing gear made stronger.3,4 New canopy design.3 More fuel could be carried.5
  • Seafire F.XVII: Four 20 mm guns.4
  • Seafire FR.XVII: Photo reconnaissance.5 Two cameras.4
  • Seafire F.45: Based on Spitfire F.21.3 Entered service in late 1946.3 Wings did not fold.3,4
  • Seafire F.46: Based on Spitfire F.22 and F.24.3 Wings did not fold.3,5
  • Seafire F.47: Wings could fold.3,5 More fuel carried.4

Usage

Britain was the only user of the Seafire.1

20 FAA squadrons were equipped with the Seafire.1

First Use

The Seafire made its first operational debut in late 1942 during Operation Torch (invasion of North Africa).1,2,3 These were on the HMS Furious.3 Four squadrons were equipped with the Seafire Mk IICs.2 The 801 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) used the Seafire Mk IB.2 During 180 sorties the Seafires shot down three aircraft, damaged three in the air, and destroyed four on the ground.2 21 Seafires were lost, three being shot down, and the others because of the thick haze.2

Sicily

121 Seafires (15 Mk IICs, 106 L Mk IICs) were used in support of the invasion of Sicily.2 The were stationed on the escort carriers HMS Attacker, Battler, Hunter, and Stalker, and the fleet carriers HMS Formidable and Illustrious.2

Salerno

There were eight Seafire squadrons on the carriers HMS Formidable and Illustrious, and the escort carriers HMS Attacker, Battler, Hunter, and Stalker.3

During the covering operations, 42 Seafires were lost to accidents.2 Most of these were the inexperience of the pilots in taking off from Escort Carriers with a lack of wind.2

Seafire LR IIC

The Seafire LR IICs were first used by the No 4 Naval Fighter Wing in late 1943.2

British Pacific Fleet

Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser became commander in chief of the new British Pacific Fleet on November 22, 1944.2 The No 24 Naval Fighter Wing was equipped with Seafire F IIIs and Seafire L IIIs.2 The 887 and 894 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) performed most of the fleet defense with 40 Seafires.2 The fleet also had 12 Fireflies, 38 Hellcats, and 73 Corsairs.2

Korea

The HMS Triumph had Seafire F.47s which took part in the last combat of Seafires.3

Withdrawn from Service

In 1952 the Seafire was finally withdrawn from active duty.3

Specifications

  Supermarine Seafire
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"4
11.23 m4
Length 31' 10"4
9.7 m4
Wing area 242 sq ft4
22.5 sq m4
Weight  
Loaded 8,000 lb4
3,632 kg4
Performance  
Speed 400 mph4
640 kph4
Service ceiling 35,000'4
10,675 m4
  Supermarine Seafire F.I,
Supermarine Seafire IB
Type Naval fighter bomber1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Merlin 324
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 452,4
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 462,4
HP 1,4152
Propeller blades 31
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"1
11.23 m1
Length 30' 2.5"1
9.21 m1
Height 11' 5.5"1
3.49 m1
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm1, 20 mm Hispano Mk 22
4: 0.303" MG1,2
8: 0.303" MG4
Rounds 20 mm: 120 each
0.303": 350 each2
Bombs 1: 500 lb1
1: 227 kg1
OR 2: 250 lb1
2: 113 kg1
  Supermarine Seafire F.II
Supermarine Seafire IIC
Type Fighter3, Naval fighter bomber1
Crew 11,3
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Merlin 324 452,3
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 452,3,4
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 462,4
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 484
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 504
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 554
Cylinders V 123
Cooling Liquid3
HP 1,3403
Propeller blades 31, Rotol constant speed4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"1,3
11.23 m1
Length 30' 2.5"1,3
9.21 m1
Height 11' 2"3, 11' 5.5"1
3.49 m1
Weight  
Loaded 7,000 lb3
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' 333 mph3
Service ceiling 32,000'3
Range 755 miles3
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm1,3,4
4: MG3, 0.303" MG1,4
Bombs 1: 500 lb1
1: 227 kg1
OR 2: 250 lb1
2: 113 kg1
  Supermarine Seafire L IIC
Type Naval fighter2
Crew 12
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce 322
Propeller blades 42
Performance  
Speed @ sea level 316 mph2
Speed @ 6,000' /
1,830 m
335 mph2
  Supermarine Seafire F.III
Type Fighter4,5, Naval fighter bomber1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Merlin 454,5
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 464
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 504,5
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 551,2,4,5
OR Rolls-Royce Merlin 564
Cylinders V 125
HP 1,4701,5
Propeller blades 41,2, Rotol constant speed4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"1,5
11.23 m1,5
Length 29' 11"5, 30' 2.5"1
9.12 m5, 9.21 m1
Height 11' 5"5, 11' 5.5"1
3.48 m5, 3.49 m1
Height 11' 5"5
3.48 m5
Wing area 242 sq ft5
22.48 sq m5
Weight  
Empty 5,400 lb5
2,449 kg5
Loaded 7,000 lb5
3,175 kg5
Performance  
Speed at 12,250' /
3,734 m
352 mph5
566 kph5
Service ceiling 33,800'5
10,302 m5
Range 465 miles5
748 km5
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm1,5
4: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG1,5
Bombs 1: 500 lb1,5
1: 227 kg1,5
OR 2: 250 lb1,5
2: 113 kg1,5
  Supermarine Seafire L III
Type Naval fighter2
Crew 12
Engine (Type) Merlin 55M2
HP 1,5852
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"2
Length 30' 2.5"2
Height - over cowling 8'2
Wing area 242 ft2 2
Weight  
Empty 6,204 lb2
Loaded 7,104 lb2
Performance  
Speed @ 6,000' /
1,830 m
358 mph2
Climb to 15,000' 5' 30"2
Service ceiling 24,000'2
Range with drop tank 400 miles2
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm Hispano2, late models Hispano Mk V2
4: 0.303" Browning MG2
  Supermarine Seafire LF.III
Type Naval fighter bomber1
Crew 11
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"1
11.23 m1
Length 30' 2.5"1
9.21 m1
Height 11' 5.5"1
3.49 m1
Weight  
Empty 6,204 lb1
2,814 kg1
Loaded 7,640 lb1
3,465 kg1
Performance  
Speed @ 6,000' /
1,830 m
348 mph1
560 kph1
Cruising speed 215 mph1
346 kph1
Climb 3,250'/minute1
990 m/minute1
Climb to 15,000'  
Service ceiling 32,000'1
9,754 m1
Range 465 miles1
748 km1
Range with drop tank 725 miles1
1,167 km1
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm1
4: 0.303" MG1
Bombs 1: 500 lb1
1: 227 kg1
OR 2: 250 lb1
2: 113 kg1
  Supermarine Seafire F.XV
Type Fighter3,4
Crew 13
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon VI3,4
Cylinders V 123
Cooling Liquid3
HP 1,8503
Propeller blades 4 blade Rotol4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 10"3,4
Length 31' 10"4, 32' 3"3
Height 10' 8"3, 10' 8.5"4
Wing area 242 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 8,000 lb3,4
Performance  
Speed 391 mph4
Speed @ 36,000' 392 mph3
Climb 4,680' per minute4
Service ceiling 37,000'3
Range 903 miles3
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm3,4
4: MG3, 0.303" MG4
Fuselage - Bomb 1: 500 lb4
  Supermarine Seafire FR.XVII
Type Fighter Reconnaissance4
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon VI4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 11"4
Length 32' 3"4
Height 13' 6"4
Wing area 242 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 8,020 lb4
Performance  
Speed 395 mph4
Climb 4,680' per minute4
  Supermarine Seafire F.XVIII
Type Firghter4
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon 364
Dimensions  
Span 36' 11"4
Length 32' 3"4
Height 13' 6"4
Wing area 242 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 8,370 lb4
Performance  
Speed 411 mph4
Climb 4,820' per minute4
  Supermarine Seafire F.45
Type Fighter4
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon 614
Propeller blades 5 blade Rotol4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 11"4
Length 32' 4 "4
Height 13' 6"4
Wing area 243 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 9,360 lb4
Performance  
Speed 446 mph4
Climb 5,270' per minute4
  Supermarine Seafire F.46
Type Fighter4
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon 614
OR Rolls-Royce Griffon 644
OR Rolls-Royce Griffon 854
Propeller blades - 61, 64 5 blade Rotol4
Propeller blades - 85 2: 3 blade contra-rotating4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 11"4
Length 32' 4 "4
Height 13' 6"4
Wing area 243 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 9,730 lb4
Performance  
Speed 449 mph4
Climb 5,490' per minute4
  Supermarine Seafire F.47
Type Fighter4
Engine (Type) Rolls-Royce Griffon 854
Propeller blades 2: 3 blade contra-rotating4
Dimensions  
Span 36' 11"4
Length 32' 4 "4
Height 13' 6"4
Wing area 243 sq ft4
Weight  
Loaded 10,000 lb4
Performance  
Speed 453 mph4
Climb 5,243' per minute4
Armament 4: 20 mm4

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. Seafire vs A6M Zero Pacific Theatre, Donald Nijboer, 2009
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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