Tagged: Spitfire

Triumph Spitfire Versus Supermarine Spitfire: Cars fight their flying namesakes


Cars and planes often share names. Sometimes it’s because car manufacturers want to evoke the glamour of the plane and sometimes it’s coincidence. We pit these namesakes against each other, to find out see which is more worthy of their name. Contestants ready? Fight!!

Round 1. Buick Wildcat II versus Grumman F4F Wildcat


Winner: Grumman F4F Wildcat

Round 2: Triumph Spitfire Versus Supermarine SpitfireImage

Winner: Supermarine Spitfire

Round 3: Volkswagen Caravelle Versus Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle


Winner: Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle

Round 4: Mitsubishi Mirage Versus Dassault Mirage III


Winner: Dassault Mirage III

Round 5: Lincoln Zephyr Versus QinetiQ Zephyr


Winner: Lincoln Zephyr

Final score: Planes 4  Cars 1

Other examples include:

Airspeed Ambassador / Austin Ambassador
Atlas Impala / Chevrolet Impala
Beagle Terrier / Leyland Terrier
Beech Baron / Chrysler Le Baron
Beech Sierra / GMC & Ford Sierra
Cessna 208 & 406 Caravan / Dodge Caravan
Cessna 404 Titan / Leyland Titan
Dassault Falcon / Ford Falcon
Fairchild Metro / Austin (Rover) & GEO Metro
HP Herald / Triumph Herald
HP Victor / Vauxhall Victor
IAI Astra / Vauxhall (Opel/Saturn) Astra
Lockheed C-5 Galaxy / Ford Galaxy
Northrop Talon / Eagle Talon
Piper (Ted Smith) PA60 Aerostar / Ford Aerostar
Piper PA22 Colt / Mitsubishi Colt
Piper PA23 Aztec / Pontiac Aztec
Piper PA28 & Bombardier Challenger / Dodge Challenger
Piper PA28 Cherokee / Jeep Cherokee
Piper PA28 Cruiser / Chrysler PT Cruiser
Piper PA46 Malibu / Chevrolet Malibu
Sikorsky S76 Spirit / Dodge Spirit
Sud Caravelle / VW Caravelle
Supermarine Spitfire / Triumph Spitfire
Vickers Vanguard / Vauxhall Vanguard
Vought & Cessna 425 Corsair / Ford Corsair
Vought F7U Cutlass / Oldsmobile Cutlass

If you enjoyed this, have  a look at the top ten British, French, Swedish, Australian,  Japanese and German aeroplanes.

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Spitfire pilots and their dogs

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 Supermarine Spitfire (recce-fighter variants)

The recent shoot-down of a Turkish air force RF-4E Phantom II over Syria, highlights the inherent dangers of the fighter-recce mission. Reconnaissance-fighters have flown some of the most daring aerial missions, often flying alone deep in enemy airspace, relying on speed and guile for survival. A panel of experts was assembled to decide which aircraft would make the selection, in what become one of the most heated debates in Hush-Kit history.

As well as being arguably the best fighter of the second world war, the Spitfire has a pretty decent claim to being its finest reconnaissance aircraft too: it pioneered a radical new conceptual approach to aerial photo reconnaissance, was fantastically successful and recorded the fastest speed ever attained by a piston-engined aircraft (over 600 mph in a dive). Not bad for an aircraft that only existed due to the eccentric persistence of one man, Sidney Cotton.
As well as spiriting Christian Dior’s managing director out of occupied France, taking clandestine photographs of Luftwaffe airfields from an aircraft piloted by Field Marshall Kesselring and inventing the Sidcot suit, Sidney Cotton was convinced that photo reconnaissance needs were best served not by converted bombers or army co-op aircraft as conventional wisdom stated but by suitably modified fighter aircraft. The PR (and later FR) Spitfires were the result. Luckily for the RAF, Cotton had pretty influential friends (ie Churchill) and managed to obtain two Spitfire Is during 1940 to be modified for the reconnaissance role. These were immediately successful and prompted more conversions and eventual factory-built reconnaissance Spitfires. With Cotton’s modifications speed was significantly increased over the fighter version but the range was colossal. Despite the fact that it was a modification of a Spitfire I (a fighter suffering from a chronically short endurance), the PR Type F was able to perform reconnaissance missions to Berlin during the summer of 1940 – try doing that in a Blenheim.
The PR Type G however ushered in a new era, although it could not range quite so far as Berlin it was the first or the PR Spitfires to retain the full armament of the standard fighter. It was a formidable aircraft – faster than the fighter, longer ranged and able to fight its way out of any trouble it might not be able to outrun, a formula that would later be repeated for the other truly great British reconnaissance aircraft, the Mosquito. Later Griffon powered versions were just as effective and would serve in the RAF until 1954.
Cotton’s Spitfires were produced in ever greater numbers and pioneered some fascinating technology. New camouflage paints were developed with a super-smooth finish to aid performance but in seemingly unlikely shades not seen on any previous military aircraft such as all-over pale blue green (called camoutint) and, famously, pink. High altitude, high speed stereoscopic photography was implemented for the first time and enabled the size of the V-1 and V-2 to be calculated. Oblique photography was also pioneered by these aircraft, and an oblique camera in a Spitfire brought back the first evidence of the Giant Wurzburg radar and inspired a Commando raid to steal one.
Ultimately the success of the reconnaissance Spitfires may be judged by the fact that from 1940 to VE day, they ranged all over Europe with relative impunity, a period during which the German’s were almost totally unable to photograph the British Isles from the air – at least until the advent of the jet…

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Reunited with a source book of aircraft


I lost my favourite book over twenty years ago. I could not remember its title or the author’s name so it seemed unlikely I would ever see it again. But this week, by chance, I rediscovered it.

I had arranged to meet my friend to watch an circus performance on London’s Southbank. She was delayed, so I watched the performance by myself. I moved to the front to join 30 confused and delighted school children. The show was outside, on one of those sunny days when the Southbank is the happiest place on Earth.

The two performers climbed and spun from tall flexing poles- swinging in dramatic switchblade movements- for the climax they wrapped themselves in reels of clingfilm, which reminded me of the funniest book I’ve ever read, ‘Ulrich Haarburste’s Novel Of Roy Orbison In Clingfilm’. This contains short stories, written in the voice of an Orbison clingfilm fetishist. Each story is a contrived set-up, leading (inevitably) to Roy Orbison being wrapped in clingfilm.


The show ended and my friend still hadn’t arrived, so I went to the book market under Waterloo Bridge. Being a mono-maniac with time to burn, I immediately looked for books about aeroplanes. The first I came across was entitled ‘Air Shows’, and was a rather dry guide from the early 1980s.
As I walked toward the next stall, I spotted a small landscape book with the image of a BOAC VC10 taking-off on the cover. Within seconds of opening it, I realised it was THE MISSING BOOK.
There have been two books that have changed my life, directly and profoundly. The second was The Wild, Wild World of The Cramps by Ian Johnston. The one I was now holding was the first.
I double-checked. It was the book. I hadn’t held a copy in twenty years. Every photo I could recall in absolute detail. I ran to the book-seller and paid the £3 pencilled in the inside cover.

Lowercase book

I have tried to avoid looking at it until now. I want to share with you my reunion feelings as they happen.

Ok, I’m ready now. First impressions- my initial copy had no dust jacket, the cover image, in the dismally dreary colour reproduction of 1970, was new to me. The title ‘a source book of aircraft‘. The lowercase ‘a’ was strangely progressive, it made the little book appear friendly. As I look at the cover, I hear thunder outside. Written and compiled by m. allward (all lowercase). The reviews inside are lovely:

“For transport enthusiasts of any age…clear illustrations and and neatly laid out vital statistics for instant identification of the beloved objects.” The Sunday Telegraph

Beloved objects, how marvellous. Beloved indeed.

The Irish Independent said:

“easy reading in a survey ranging from the first perilous contraption to the latest droop-snouted supercilious model. There also grows on the reader a profound respect to those who flew the early machines or even believed the machines would fly.”

SUPERCILIOUS! Ha ha, a little bitchy snipe at Concorde, at a time when it was a fashionable target of criticism. I was just about to open the first page when my mobile phone barked (remind me to change my ringtone). I have a visitor. Well, I’ve waited twenty years, I can wait another couple of hours. Time for tea with the artist Katie Horwich.

I’m back. My first copy I marked with crosses and ticks, showing my approval or disapproval of each type. I was about five when I first saw the book. It introduced me to aeroplanes. I fell in love with aeroplanes from seeing them in this book.

The book is organised chronologically, starting with the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer I. As a child I did not like the early machines. They were not sleek, they resembled piers or bridges or fences. The first sexy aircraft was the Nieuport 17 Scout of 1915. On the side is a skull and crossed bones on a heart, a tattoo-like artwork which brings the ’17 to life.
The locations of the aeroplanes in the pictures were mysterious. Large empty airfields, woods and lakes. The Empire of 1936 was on a body of water next to a castle, a frothy wake streaming from its hull.

The Spitfire was unique in having two pictures- surely this made it the king of the aeroplanes?

The handsome Boeing 314 sat on a sunlit ocean and was photographed from the air- where was it? What was it doing? The absence of captions forced my imagination to make up the story.

Rocket-propelled nazis and jet Christs
When good quality photos could not be found (or copyrights granted?) the aircraft were shown in exciting, but naïve, paintings. The paintings were crudely over-painted photos, each seemingly completed in five minutes. This naïvety could not conceal the mad excitement of the Messerschmitt Me.163; a rocket-propelled nazi fighter and the first aircraft in the book with raked back wings. If that wasn’t titillating enough, the opposite page showed a gorgeous image of the Tempest fighter. As a boy this high-sided machine reminded me of a knight’s charger, the shape speaking of massive power and nobility. The Salamander of 1944 was cool, but incomprehensible, with a black boiler trying to mount it like a randy labrador.

The Sea Hawk of 1947 was a pure, uncluttered shape. The shape of the aircraft resembling a jet-propelled Christ on the cross.

The Sabre carried USAF markings, happy and garish, and familiar to me from toys and comics. The Comet of 1949 shared the same Christian looks as the Sea Hawk. A mass of well-balanced compound curves, the Comet had the gentle look of a deer.

Flying daggers!

In striking contrast to this- the Draken and F-104 were flying daggers! They looked to me like swords or battle-axes. They were speed, aggression and purpose. I loved them, maybe the most of all. The HS 125 and Trident 2E (I have used the aircraft titles and designations from the book), were further Christians, but this time with pally, dog-like snouts.

The MiG-23 was a revelation. It was Soviet, and therefore little was known about it. The painting showed a duet of zooming spaceships. They looked invincible. The designation ‘MiG-23’, later proved to be wrong. The aircraft was actually the MiG-25, the legendary ‘Foxbat’.

The world in the pictures was now looking more like the world I knew in 1983. The Harrier of 1966, with its ventilator-like nozzles and oversized tyres was apparently landing in Hampstead Heath, behind were winter-stripped trees. The setting familiar to a British child. The Viggen of 1967 earned a big tick; a gothic cathedral that had transformed into a fighter and flown off over some enigmatic misty landscape.

In 1969 the world ends. Concorde comes into land, in all its supercilious droop-snouted glory.

Seeing the book again was a main-lining of nostalgia that I will be unable to feel again, even if I bury this book for another twenty years.
I dedicate this article to Beatrice Brown, as without her terrible experiences on the London Underground that summer day, I would not have been reunited with this old childhood friend.


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Have a look at 10 worst British military aircraftSu-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

Hush-Kit Top Ten: The Ten best-looking British aircraft


This list should be considered the objective and definitive guide to the ten best-looking British aircraft. All aircraft have been assessed using the Aesthomater to determine its exact beauty rating. We have left one vacant slot for you, dear reader, to fill. If you would like to vote for a particular British aircraft for inclusion in this list, please cast your vote at the poll at the base of the page. Please do not submit international aircraft (like Concorde). 

After this you may want to read Dave Eagles telling you how to fly a Sea Fury.

10. Supermarine Southampton


9. Hawker Hunter


8. Hawker Sea Hawk


7. de Havilland DH.106 Comet


6. Westland Whirlwind


5. de Havilland DH.88 Comet


4. Vickers VC10


3. Bristol Britannia


2. Supermarine Spitfire


1. de Havilland DH.103 Hornet READER’S CHOICE


If you enjoyed this, have  a look at the top ten French, Swedish, Australian,  Soviet and German aeroplanes. Wanting Something a little more exotic? Try the top ten fictional aircraft.

THE ULTIMATE WHAT-IF: Siamese Supermarine- The Twin Spitfire


Initially intended as a very long-range escort fighter, the Twin Spitfire was designed to escort ‘Tiger Force’ Avro Lincoln bombers to Japan, missions beyond the range of any conventional RAF fighter. It was also seen as an alternative to the de Havilland Hornet should that aircraft prove unsatisfactory for its intended role in an ‘island-hopping’ campaign in the Pacific theatre.

Supermarine’s design team under Joe Smith developed a remarkably simple conversion consisting of two standard late production Spitfire Mk 22 fuselages and wings joined by a constant chord centre section and tailplane and with the cockpit removed from the right hand fuselage. Unlike its American counterpart, the P-82 Twin Mustang, the Twin Spitfire was a single seat aircraft, reflecting a peculiar British meanness with personnel and maximisation of offensive potential. The absence of the second cockpit and associated equipment made for a very great increase in fuel capacity and the range capability of the new aircraft was unprecedented. When external fuel tanks were added (the wings were equipped for drop tanks) the aircraft’s endurance effectively exceeded that of the average pilot.


With double the available power of a standard late-model Spitfire but less drag and lighter weight the performance of the new aircraft was outstanding. Maximum speed was 495 mph at 21,000 feet and the rate of climb and acceleration were similarly impressive. Although agility was not in the same league as the standard Spitfire, the aircraft was considered nimble for its size. A less desirable quality was the amount of torque generated by the two Griffons. With less wing area per engine relative to a standard Spitfire; the Twin Spitfire was infamous for swing on take off. Both the F-82 and the Hornet were equipped with ‘handed’ engines to negate torque effects but the Twin Spitfire was never so-equipped and pilots were required to apply full opposite rudder (even with the larger vertical surfaces developed for the Spiteful) and refrain from using full throttle until the aircraft was safely in the air.


Armament was, surprisingly, reduced in comparison to the Mk 22 Spitfire. Three 20mm cannon were mounted in the centre section of the wing, it being considered that the concentration of these weapons on the centre line of the aircraft increased the effectiveness over the standard four cannon dispersed outboard in the wings. This also allowed for a useful increase in ammunition capacity for each weapon. Later marks were developed to carry underwing ordnance for the strike role.

Operational History

The atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima occurred as the first two Twin Spitfire squadrons were working up. Tiger Force was never deployed and the aircraft did not see operational service during World War Two. Orders for the type were slashed, though its relative ease of production due to the large levels of commonality with the Spitfire combined with the obvious merits of its performance (the aircraft was superior in speed, range and disposable load to the Gloster Meteor) meant that production did go ahead though in relatively modest numbers. The first Twin Spitfire F.Mk 1 squadron, was declared operational on the 1st of December 1945 and was deployed to Germany as part of the occupation forces in the spring of 1946, two more squadrons working up on the type throughout that year. Notwithstanding its handling quirks, the aircraft was generally popular with pilots as its blistering performance made it more or less the most potent aircraft in service in the immediate post war era. It is said that ex-Beaufighter pilots were particularly fond of it as the handling problems of both aircraft were similar but the Twin Spitfire’s levels of performance and agility were markedly superior.

Later marks adapted for the night fighter, ground attack and reconnaissance roles were speedily developed and produced.

An early problem with regard to the operational employment of the aircraft was identified almost as soon as it entered service. The pilot, sat in the left hand fuselage, had a largely unobstructed view to the left but his view to the right was severely compromised by the second fuselage and broad chord centre section of the aircraft. A few individual aircraft were modified at unit level to swap the fuselages and produce a ‘right hand drive’ version, which would invariably be detailed to fly on the right flank of any formation. Eventually right handed Twin Spitfires entered series production alongside their left handed brethren, though they were always something of a rarity. Similarly aircraft with a cockpit in both fuselages were produced, allowing for a radar operator to be carried in the Night Fighter version, a student in the training variant, and a winch operator for the target tug.


Seeking a presence for itself over Korea during the escalating conflict, the RAF deployed a squadron of Twin Spitfire FB Mk 2s to Kimpo airfield (shared with RAAF Meteors) in 1951. The spectacular range and loitering capability of the aircraft was intensely attractive for close air support purposes and though no longer competitive in pure speed terms when compared to the latest jet fighters, the Twin Spitfire could still compare fairly favourably with the F-80 Shooting Star and was expected to be able to outmaneouvre any North Korean fighters that might be encountered. As it turned out this was to be the Twin Spitfire’s moment of glory. On the 4th of August 1952, Twin Spitfires dove on two Mig-15s and destroyed them both. A fortnight later they repeated the feat and the Twin Spitfire became one of the very few piston engined types to destroy a jet fighter in air to air combat.

Later Service 

For most of its operational life the Twin Spitfire was regarded as a tactical aircraft for strike and ground attack tasks. It operated in concert with Hornets over Malaya and appeared briefly over Suez in a single photographic sortie from a base on Cyprus. Long after this the aircraft served as a target tug, the drogue and winch being carried in a large fairing under the centre section. A few drone controller aircraft were in use until 1962.

Hush-Kit is reminding the world of the beauty of flight.

follow my vapour trail on Twitter@Hush_kit.  If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy ‘A pacifist’s guide to military aircraft

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Supermarine Type 493:   Prototype, 2 constructed.

Twin Spitfire F Mk 1:  Initial production version, long range escort fighter, 134 built.

Twin Spitfire F Mk 1(r):  As above but produced with cockpit in right hand fuselage, 32 built.

Twin Spitfire FB Mk 2:  Equipped for underwing ordnance and epitomised for the ground attack role, 203 built.

Twin Spitfire PR 3:

Reconnaissance version, 8 built, 15 converted from F Mk 1.

Twin Spitfire NF 4:  Night fighter, 58 built.

Twin Spitfire TF Mk 5:

Trainer variant, 35 built, 30 conversions from FB Mk 2.

Twin Spitfire TT Mk 6:

Target tug, 90 produced – all conversions from FB Mk 2.


Following the lead of the Yakovlev Yak-15 (a delegation from Vickers Supermarine having visited Soviet aviation facilities in late 1945), the Spitfire F.Mk 25 was an attempt to obtain an effective jet fighter aircraft whilst avoiding the tiresome rigmarole of designing one from scratch. Shoehorning a bulky Derwent engine into the slender nose of the Spitfire did nothing for the aesthetic qualities of the aircraft, nor, as it proved, did it radically transform the performance. Despite its new powerplant the ‘Jetfire’ proved to be slower than its Griffon engined progenitor. It did, however, possess a superior rate of climb. Soon after the start of production its meagre range was improved by the addition of tip tanks. Although adequate as a first generation jet fighter the Jetfire offered only limited development potential and it was soon supplanted by true jet aircraft that had been designed as such from the start.

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 Just as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was derived from the civil Bf 108 Taifun so the Spitfire was derived from the four seat cabin monoplane Supermarine Typhoon. First flown in 1935 the Gypsy Major powered Typhoon achieved a remarkable performance due to its fine aerodynamics. The sole example was written off barely two months after the first flight when chief test pilot ‘Mutt’ Summers forgot to lower the undercarriage on landing. The projected high price and complicated construction coupled with Supermarine’s increasing preoccupation with Spitfire development doomed the project and the attractive Typhoon was destined to remain an intriguing example of what might have been had war clouds not threatened.

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Following Vickers decision to rationalise its aviation interests and close the Supermarine design office in 1936, the RAF’s high performance fighter needs were served purely by the Hawker Hurricane. The Mk XIV was developed as a matter of urgency following the cancellation of the Typhoon programme in 1942 due to insuperable aerodynamic problems and the simultaneous failure of the Napier Sabre to mature into a viable powerplant.

Hawker had no choice but to look to the proven Hurricane airframe and the Rolls-Royce Griffon. The Centaurus was considered but marriage of the radial engine to the slender Hurricane fuselage was rejected as too complicated. Along with the engine change, aerodynamic and practical improvements were made to the airframe. Cutting down the rear fuselage proved relatively simple due to its steel tube and fabric construction, stability was retained by use of a large fin fillet. The tailwheel was arranged to retract into the ventral fin and the large radio mast was replaced with a simple whip aerial, further reducing drag.

Armament was unchanged from the Merlin Hurricane though the new aircraft benefited from a cleaner gun barrel fairing for its four 20 mm Hispanos.

If you enjoyed this check out the Super Lightning

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