Technical data
Type F.Mk.VBP.R.Mk.IV
Function Fighter, fighter- bomberPhoto- recon.
Year 1941
Crew 1
Engine (1) Rolls-Royce Merlin
45, 50, 50A or 4645, 46, 50, 55 or 56
Power 1,415-1,470hp
Length 9.12m
Height 3.47m
Wingspan 11.23m
Wing area 22.48m2
Empty weight 2,313kg?kg
Loaded weight 3,078kg?kg
Maximum weight ?kg?kg
Wing Load (kg/m2) 136.9?
Power load (kg/hp) 2.09-2.18?
Speed at 0m ?km/h
Speed 602km/h at 3.962m599km/h at ?m
Landing speed ?km/h
Landing roll ?m
Takeoff roll ?m
Turn time ?sec
Normal range 756km3,219km
Maximum range
(external fuel)
Flight Endurance ?h ?min
Ceiling 11,277m?m
Fuel ?kg
Guns 4*mg 7.7mm Browning Mk.II and 2*g 20mm British HispanoNone
Bombs 2*113kg or 1*227kgNone
Rockets None

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VB and P.R.Mk.IV

(59k b/w photo from "Red Stars in the Sky") Spitfire VB fighters being prepared for delivery to the Soviet Union at Abadan, Iran in 1943.

Already in October 1940 the Air Staff of the RAF demanded a more powerful replacement for the Spitfire Mk.Is and Mk.IIs then in service. Originally the intended successor was the radically changed Mk.III (with early Griffon engine), which had already been flown in prototype form, but it was felt that the service introduction of this variant would take too long and seriously interrupt production (the same story happened again a year later with the Spitfire Mk.IX). So a less radically changed variant was produced by the installation of the two-stage single-speed supercharged Merlin 45 series engine in a standard Mk.II airframe. This led to the Spitfires Mk.V and P.R.Mk.IV. The P.R.Mk.IV (not to be confused with the Griffon-engined Mk.IV fighter prototype - later redesignated Mk.XX to avoid confusion) was the photo-reconnaissance variant of the Mk.V and despite its earlier mark number appeared some considerable time after the Mk.V, which first reached RAF squadrons in March 1941.

The Spitfire Mk.V was powered by the Merlin 45, 50 or 50A engine rated at 1,470hp at 2,820m or the Merlin 46 with an output of 1,415hp at 4,267m. Three basic wing/armament layouts (which were denoted by the appropriate suffix letter to the type designation) were used with the Spitfire V:

  • "A" wing with 8*7.7mm Browning Mk.II machine guns (94 machines built as Mk.VA)
  • "B" wing with 4*7.7mm Browning Mk.II guns and 2*20mm British Hispano cannon (3,923 built as Mk.VBs)
  • "Universal" or "C" wing, either with 4*7.7mm Browning Mk.II guns and 2*20mm British Hispano cannon or with 4*20mm cannon (2,447 built as Mk.VCs). The four-cannon armament was not often fitted, normally a short stub covered the outer cannon port.
  • With a total of 6,479 examples (some of them upgraded Mk.II airframes) the Mk.V was the most numerous Spitfire variant and the type served with the RAF on every theater of operations. From 1943 onwards the Spitfire V was increasingly used for ground attack duties. For this purpose most machines had their wingtips (reducing span to 9.93m) removed, which improved the performance at low altitudes. Additionally a Merlin 45M, 50M or 55M engine with a rating of 1,585hp at 838m was fitted. In this form the aircraft were designated as L.F.Mk.Vs (the original Mk.V variant being retrospectively designated F.Mk.V).

    143 Spitfire F.Mk.VBs were delivered to the Soviet Union at the beginning of 1943. The machines came from various British units in the Middle East and were handed over to Soviet pilots at Basra. It is reported that these machines were delivered after a direct request from Stalin (via Ambassador Maiski) to Churchill in October 1942 "not only to send obsolescent machines with future deliveries but also a number of Spitfires". The machines were immediately put in service and saw action along the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and in the defence of the Moscow region. Late in 1943 some Luftwaffe pilots of JG 52 (JG = "Jagdgeschwader" or "Fighter Wing") are reported to have been somewhat surprised when they encountered about 25 Spitfires near Orel.

    18k color drawing of a Spitfire VB in Soviet markings from "Red Stars in the Sky".

    The Spitfire P.R.Mk.IV was a variant of the Mk.V modified for reconnaissance duties (there had been already a few similar modified machines of earlier variants). This type appeared in September 1941 and 229 were built. Instead of armament the Spitfire P.R.IV carried different sets of cameras and had additional fuel cells in the wing leading edges to increase range. Merlin 45, 46, 50, 55 or 56 engines could be fitted. At least one example of this type is known to have been delivered to Russia and was tested at the NII VVS.

    (31k b/w photo from "Red Stars in the Sky") Spitfire P.R.Mk.IV while under test at the NII VVS.

    16k color drawing of the Spitfire P.R.IV at the NII VVS (from "Red Stars in the Sky"). Note unusual Red Star marking on engine cowling.

    No earlier variants delivered to the Soviet Union.
  • "Red Stars in the Sky" by C.F.Geust, K.Keskinen, K.Niska and K.Stenman; Vol. 1;
  • "Sowjetische Jagdflugzeuge" ("Soviet Fighters") by W.Kopenhagen (in German);
  • Profile Publications No.166 "The Supermarine Spitfire V Series" by T.Hooton;
  • "War Planes of the Second World War - Fighters Vol. 2" by W.Green;
  • "War Planes of the Second World War - Floatplanes Vol. 6" by W.Green;
  • Squadron/Signal Publications, Aircraft No.39 "Spitfire in Action" by J.Scutts;
  • The Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire
  • The Story of the Supermarine Spitfire
  • The Spitfire Society
  • The Supermarine Spitfire, an operational history by Christopher Whitehead
  • Flying the Supermarine Spitfire

  • Created for RAM November 23, 1999
    by Thomas Heinz
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