Instead of the dainty archetypal Merlin Spitfires, I have always preferred the Griffon powered variants and my favourite is probably the Mk XIV. I love the brutish quality it has when compared to earlier marks with that long, long nose topped off with a five-bladed propeller, the most aesthetically pleasing number of blades. I like its relative obscurity: no Battle of Britain, no Douglas Bader. I love that it was available as a FROG kit complete with a V-1 for it to chase. Like nearly all the most successful Spitfire variants, it was an ad-hoc lash-up, a 2035 hp Griffon 65 bolted onto a barely modified Mk VIII airframe with a potentially dangerous swing on take-off replacing the totally innocuous handling of the Merlin Spitfires.
It was an outstanding aircraft. First combat occurred on 7 March 1944, three months before the showoff P-51D, an aircraft offering 600 less horsepower than the Spitfire and unable to best it it in any performance parameter with the sole exception (critically) of range. In RAF comparative trials against a Mustang III, Tempest V, Me 109G and Fw 190, the Mk XIV possessed “the best all-round performance of any present-day fighter”. But the main appeal for me remains aesthetic, I prefer the high-back non-bubble canopy version coupled with the clipped wingtips that seem almost crude in their abruptness. The whole thing exudes a murderous sense of purpose when compared to the early marks, and finally made the Spitfire look like what it is: a weapon.
— Edward Ward
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