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For aircraft enthusiasts: Jets by the company that made the Spitfire.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Blazer, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I don't think that there has ever been a plane made by the Supermarine division of Vickers-Armstrong as legendary as the Spitfire. It had everything going for it, a good service record, great looks and it was a dream to fly.

    But later in the war with developments in aeronautics constantly going on the R&D of Supermarine were looking around to see if the Spitfire could be improved, for inspiration they looked at the North American P-51 Mustang which had made quite an impact when it appeared in the European war theatre, it using a Rolls Royce Merlin engine like the Spitfire's but with a new laminar flow wing. And so the decision was made to make a Spitfire with that new kind of wing.
    The Supermarine Spiteful
    But developing this "Super Spitfire" turned out to be much harder than you'd think, the new wing was inferior aerodynamically to the Mustang wing and even to the old Spitfire wing and the result was that the Spiteful didn't match up to the later versions of the Spitfire and so production of the Spiteful and it's naval version the Seafang was very limited.

    But with Jet technology at their disposal that Wing for the Spiteful could have its uses, it was time for the Spitfire to evolve into a Jet-fighter.
    The Supermarine Attacker
    The First Jet fighter that came from Supermarine was quite an odd beast, it inherited the wings from the Spiteful, many of the avionics came from the later marks Spitfire and most peculiar of all...
    ...It was a tail dragger.

    The Royal Air Force quickly bowed out, Opting to stick with the Gloster Meteor and the DeHavilland Vampire jets and thus the Attacker was drafted into service with the Royal Navy and with the Pakistani Air Force. But in both cases the "Jet-spitfire" was riddled with operational problems and the planes were quickly phased out. Chief of the problems was the performance it had with the new wing, which was apparently aerodynamically inferior to the original Spitfire elliptic one, with lower critical Mach number, leading to someone quipping that "They rather should have left the Spitfire wing on the thing".

    Currently only one Attacker survives, a single example of Supermarine's first jet.

    But it was this problem with Wing design that set the R&D people of Supermarine off to find a solution, they took a casco from the Attacker assembly line and fitted it with THESE...
    With which they created the working prototype for what was then considered to be the comeback for Supermarine as the builder of cutting edge planes.
    Amazingly, that Prototype still survives, showing its kinship to the Attacker in its taildragger undercarriage.

    Using what they had learned from the prototype Supermarine came up with the Swift.
    The Swift differed from the Attacker by it having a longer fuselage, tricycle landing gear, more powerful engine and redesigned tail surface, it was meant to replace the aging Gloster Meteor and Dehavilland Vampire fighters and to be a competitor to the Hawker Hunter, which was made according to the same specification.
    The Hawker Hunter.

    But a series of accidents which revealed the Swift to be a very unstable plane led to the Swift being withdrawn from active service while its rival, the Hunter served (and continues to serve) with an enviable record.

    Supermarine's big comeback turned out to be their biggest failure.

    But they weren't going to give up just yet and what turned out to be their last jet fighter was the first (And only) supersonic plane that Supermarine made.
    The Supermarine Scimitar.
    The Scimitar was meant to replace the aging SeaVenom fighters of the Royal Navy, at the time it was developed there was talk about the admiralty aquiring larger aircraft carriers and thus needing a plane that could operate from those. And the Scimitar fitted that profile to a T, it was sleek powerful and fast, in fact the power of the twin Avon engines was amply demonstrated when one pilot made a successful take-off with the parking brake still on!

    But as soon as the Scimitar entered service pilots quickly found out that their new sleek looking plane not only looked dangerous, it's flying characteristic matched its looks. Much like the Swift before, the Scimitar had stability problems and the large aircraft carriers it was designed for never were put into service so it had to operate from the small carriers that the Royal navy still had.
    The HMS Ark Royal and the USS Nimitz moored next to each other showing to good effect how much smaller the British carriers on which the Scimitar served were.

    The accident rate of the Scimitar was so high that after only 5 years of service the type was replaced by the McDonnel-Douglas F-4K Phantom in the fighter role and the Blackburn Buccaneer in the strike role. In general the Scimitar was perceived to be a good plane but flying for the wrong naval service on the wrong type of carrier.

    And with the failure of the Scimitar ended Supermarine's foray into making Jet fighters, not long after its parent company Vickers-Armstrong was fused into British Aircraft Corporation, making the brand vanish completely.
  2. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Taildragger Jet! I didnt know they ever existed. This is a photoshop trick, right?

    Well, at least they didnt need to kick in a bunch of right-rudder on takeoff (no p-factor with jets)...
  3. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    Very interesting story...thanks for sharing

    I am forever in love with the Spitfire..........and bless all the young men and women that flew them so we can live in a democracy today
  4. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Nope it's not a photoshop trick and the Attacker wasn't the only taildragger jet.

    The first couple of Messerschmitt 262's were taildraggers.

    And the first Soviet Jet Fighter the Yak-15 also was a taildragger.

    Perhaps not but the having the tail pipe at groundlevel can be hazardous for the crew, Attackers have been known for blowing the flightdeck crew clean off their feet. Not to mention damaging the deck with that insanely hot exhaust.

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