10 Spitfire Facts You Must Know If You’re A Warbird Fanatic

British Supermarine Spitfire single-engine light fighter. A real legend in the history of aviation, the Spitfire, conceived by eingineer Reginald J. Mitchell and his team, 20,351 planes were produced in some 40 versions. First flight: March 5, 1936. One of the best planes of World War II. (Photo by: Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images)

There’s no argument that the Supermarine Spitfire is one, if not the most iconic plane of World War II. It is loved both by veterans and enthusiasts alike. But how much do you know about this legendary fighter?

Here are fascinating facts about the iconic plane that saved the Allies during the Battle of Britain.

1. The Shrew or The Scarab

A Supermarine Spitfire touches down on the runway during the Battle of Britain Air Show at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

R.J. Mitchell, the Spitfire’s chief designer, wanted to name the aircraft ‘The Shrew’ or ‘The Scarab.’ However, Sir Robert Mclean of the Vickers wanted to name it in honor of his daughter. The name Spitfire was then approved by the Air Ministry, very much to Mitchell’s annoyance.

2. Difficult and Costly to Manufacture

(Original Caption) London: British Plane Output Said To Exceed Germany’s. Britain now boasts that she has passed Germany in the quantity production on airplanes. This factory somewhere in England shows a floor filled with spitfire fighters in the making. These machines each powered with a single Rolls Royce engine are the fastest single-engined fighters in service. This almost appears to be the assembly line in the American factory with the exception that in England the planes themselves do not move but rather the workmen.

During its early years in production, the Supermarine Spitfire encountered many production problems. Conventional manufacturing techniques were challenged by the aircraft’s sophisticated design, particularly by its elliptical wing and airframe.

3. The Spitfire Was The Embodiment of Power

UNITED KINGDOM – MARCH 13: Exhibits from Inside the Spitfire: Personal stories of Britain’s most famous plane. The Spitfire’s design was almost perfect for the Battle of Britain in 1940, but continuous improvements throughout the Second World War kept it in the front rank of performance. This deconstructed Mark 22 Spitfire shows how the aircraft embodied the most advanced technology of the time. On display is a Merlin engine. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Fitted with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the Spitfire roared unlike any other plane. With a top speed of 369 mph (594 km/h), it can climb up to 20,000 feet in under 10 minutes, easily outperforming the Hurricane.

4. Retractable Landing Gear

Duxford, UNITED KINGDOM: A WWII Spitfire comes in for landing at Duxford airbase, 08 September 2005.The Spitfire and a Hurricane flew for media and WWII veterans ahead of the Duxford 2005 airshow on the 10 and 11 September. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Spitfire was one of the first planes to feature a retractable landing gear. Many pilots have been known to crash land due to forgetting that the landing gear had to be set down.

5. Amazing Variants

CHICHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPT 7th: Supermarine Spitfire during the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation air display at Goodwood during the 20th anniversary of the Goodwood Revival at Goodwood on September 7th 2018 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Michael Cole/Getty Images)

Aside from its prowess in battle, pilots also loved the Spitfire’s versatility. The Spitfire’s wing can be equipped with different weapons, bombs, and barrels of beer. Yes, beer.

6. RAF’s Frontline Fighter

1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk V11, (YBW), and a 1942/3 Supermarine Spitfire during the Battle of Britain Air Display (Photo by Michael Cole/Corbis via Getty Images)

Due to its outstanding performance, the Spitfire quickly rose to popularity. Soon after its first mission, it became the RAF’s main fighter.
7. Germany’s Envy For The Spitfire

An optically merged image of a dogfight over England between a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt ME 109, made after aerial shots were filmed for ‘Battle Of Britain’, directed by Guy Hamilton, 1968. The German aircraft is a Hispano Aviacion HA-1112 Buchon fighter, a Spanish, license-built version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

Frustrated that they were not winning the Battle of Britain as planned, the Germans recognized the superiority of the Spitfire. An ace pilot by the name of Adolf Galland was known to have requested his own squadron of Spitfires when he was asked what he needed to win.

8. Mass Production

circa 1940: The Spitfire production line at the Vickers Supermarine Works in Southampton. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

It was so effective that the Supermarine Spitfire was the only Allied aircraft continuously produced throughout the war.

9. The Spitfire Remains a Popular Aircraft Even Today

A Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1A – P9374/G-MK1A aircraft is pictured outside the Churchill War Rooms in central London, on July 3, 2015, during a photocall ahead of its sale by Christie’s auction house. The spitfire will be auctioned in London on July 9, 2015, and is expected to fetch in the region of GBP 1.5m – 2.5m. (approx 2.1m – 3.5m euros/2.3m – 3.9m USD). AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE’N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images)

Many aviation museums and movies feature the legendary plane. Today, there are approximately 55 airworthy Spitfires left.

10. Spitfire Lessons

Ever wanted to fly the legendary Spitfire yourself? Yes, you can! The Boultbee Flight Academy in Kent, England offers lessons on how to fly a real Spitfire.