Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib

Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib

Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib

The Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib was a version of the Spitfire Mk.V converted to serve as an interim naval fighter before the arrival of a purpose-built Seafire.

The Admiralty had failed in an attempt to procure a naval version of the Spitfire I in 1940, but by 1941 it was clear that the Fleet Air Arm needed a modern fighter, and the Air Ministry agreed to release a number of Spitfire Mk.Is and 48 Mk Vbs. Two Spitfire Vs (AD205 and AD371) were sent to Worthy Down, where by the end of 1941 they had been equipped with arrestor hooks and catapult spools. By the end of 1941 a third Spitfire, BL676, had been sent to RNAS Arbroath, where it was given an A-frame arrestor hook, and was used for deck trails. It was joined by AD371 in February 1942.

BL676's next move was from Arbroath to the Air Service Training Unit, where it was converted into the first fully modified Seafire. This involved fitting it with catapult spools, slinging points, a tropical filter and a 30 gallon auxiliary fuel tank and strengthening the fuselage at key points. It already had an arrestor hook. The aircraft emerged on 23 March 1942 with a new name, Seafire (the name was suggested by the wife of one of the design team, and replaced Sea Spitfire), and a new serial number, MB328.

The Air Service Training Unit was given a contract to convert 48 Spitfire Vbs to the Seafire Ib standard, although without catapult spools (it isn't entirely clear if this includes MB328).

Cunliffe-Owen at Southampton, a Supermarine subcontractor, were given a contract to produce 118 Seafire Ibs, complete with catapult spools, bringing production up to 166 aircraft.

The Seafire Ib had a limited front line career. The first aircraft entered service in June 1942, and No.801 Squadron was fully equipped with the type by the time in embarked on HMS Furious in October 1942. No.842 Squadron also received a number of Seafire Ibs before joining the Furious in the summer of 1943.

The Seafire Ib was also used in small numbers by No.1 and No.2 Naval Fighter Schools, the School of Naval Warfare, RNAS Lee-on-Solent, RNAS Stretton, and No.760 (Reserve) Squadron.

Supermarine Type 340
Engine: Single-speed single-stage supercharged Merlin 45 or 46
Power: 1,470hp or 1,415hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 36ft 10in
Length: 30ft 2.5in
Height: 11ft 5.5in
Empty Weight: 5,100lb
Loaded Weight: 6,700lb
Max Speed: 365mph at 16,000ft
Service Ceiling: 36,400ft
Range: 492 miles
Armament: Two Hispano 20mm cannon and four 0.303in Browning machine guns
Bomb-load: None

Return to main Supermarine Seafire article


The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the more cumbersome name Sea Spitfire. The Seafire Mk XV was the first naval Spitfire to use the Rolls Royce Griffon engine, although Griffons had been fitted to land-based Spitfires beginning in November 1941. Entering service with the Fleet Air Arm in May 1945, the Griffon-engined Seafires remained in service until the 1950’s.

The Admiralty first showed an interest in the idea of a carrier-borne Spitfire in May 1938 when during a meeting with Richard Fairey of Fairey Aviation, Admiralty staff proposed that his company design and build such an aircraft. The idea met with a negative response and the matter was dropped. As a result the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) was forced to order Blackburn Rocs and Gloster Sea Gladiators, both of which proved to be inadequate.

The matter of a sea-borne Spitfire was raised again in November 1939 when the Air Ministry allowed a Commander Ermen to fly a Spitfire Mk I. After his first flight in R6718, Ermen learned that Joseph Smith, Chief Designer at Supermarine, had been instructed to fit an “A-frame” arrestor hook on a Spitfire and that this had flown on 16 October. A drawing of this aircraft had been shown to the FAA on 27 October. After further discussion, Supermarine submitted a drawing of a Spitfire with folding wings and an arrestor hook the wings were designed with a fold just outboard of the undercarriage bays the outer wings would swivel and fold backwards, parallel with the fuselage. On 29 February 1940 the Admiralty asked the Air Ministry to sanction the production of 50 folding wing Spitfires, with the first deliveries to start in July. However, Winston Churchill, who was then First Lord of the Admiralty stepped in and cancelled the order, writing to Lord Beaverbrook, “I regard it as of very great importance that the production of Fulmars should be kept going.”

Churchill’s letter served to block production of the Spitfire for the Navy during the period of “the Phony War” in early 1940, when hostilities had been declared but no real fighting had begun on the Continent. He may have been motivated by a belief that in the coming war, the RAF would need every land-based Spitfire it could get, and therefore could not afford diversion of any portion of the new fighter’s production. The Royal Navy would have to make due with its Fulmars. In the same vein, once the Germans invaded France later in the Spring of 1940, there came a point when, prior to the evacuation at Dunkirk, Air Marshal Hugh Dowding wrote the British prime minister urging that no further fighter aircraft be sent to the Continent to help defend France. Dowding was indeed motivated by the need to muster all resources in preparation for the Battle of Britain. Spitfires, comprising only one-third of the RAF’s fighter force, were nonetheless vital to Britain’s defence.

It would take over 18 months before the first Seafires were built, after the Admiralty in late 1941assessed the Spitfire for conversion.
At that time, 48 Spitfire Mk. Vb’s were converted by Air Training Service Ltd. at Hamble to become “hooked Spitfires.” This was the Seafire Mk. Ib and would be the first of several Seafire variants to reach the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. This version of the Seafire was mainly used to allow the Royal Navy to gain experience in operating the Spitfire on aircraft carriers. The main structural change was made to the lower rear fuselage which incorporated an A-frame style arrestor hook and strengthened lower longerons. It was soon discovered that the fuselage, especially around hatches, was too weak for sustained carrier operations. In an attempt to alleviate this condition, reinforcing strips were riveted around hatch openings and along the main fuselage longerons. A further 118 Seafire Ibs incorporating the fuselage reinforcements were modified from Spitfire Vbs by Cunliffe-Owen at Eastleigh and Air Training Service. These aircraft were equipped with Naval HF radio equipment and IFF equipment as well as a Type 72 homing beacon. Armament was that same as that of the Spitfire Mk Vb, two 20mm Hispano Mk II cannon with 60 rounds per gun fed from a drum magazine, and four .303 caliber machine guns with 350 rounds per gun.

The first use of Seafires in carrier operations was Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Morocco in November 1942. Seafires saw most service in the Far East Pacific campaigns, serving with No. 887 and 894 Squadrons, Fleet Air Arm, aboard HMS Indefatigable and joining the British Pacific Fleet late in 1944. Due to their good high altitude performance and lack of ordnance-carrying capabilities (compared to the Hellcats and Corsairs of the Fleet), the Seafires were allocated the vital defensive duties of Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over the fleet. Seafires were heavily involved in countering the kamikaze attacks during the Iwo Jima landings and beyond. The Seafires’ best day was August 15, 1945, shooting down eight attacking aircraft for a single loss. During the campaign 887 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) claimed 12 kills, and 894 NAS claimed 10 kills (with two more claims earlier in 1944 over Norway).

The Royal Canadian Navy Air Arm operated two squadrons of the Seafire Mk. XV from 1945 to 1949. The Seafire Mk. XV was armed with two 20mm cannon and four .303 caliber machine guns, just as the Seafire Ib had been. Maximum speed was 392 mph and the rate of climb was 5,000 feet per minute to 36,000 feet. Canada’s Seafire Mk. XVs were flown from HMCS Magnificent and HMS Warrior before being replaced by Sea Furies in 1948.

France received 65 Seafire Mk IIIs, 24 of these being deployed on the carrier Arromanches in 1948, when it sailed for Vietnam to fight in the First Indochina War, the Seafires operating both from land bases and from Arromanches on ground attack missions against the Viet Minh before being withdrawn from combat operations in January 1949. After returning to European waters, the Seafire units were re-equipped with Seafire XVs, but these were quickly replaced by F6F Hellcats from 1950.

Korean War Service
Post war, the Fleet Air Arm replaced its Merlin-powered Seafires with Griffon-powered aircraft, initially with the Seafire Mk. XV and Mk. XVII, and from 1948, by the definitive Seafire Mk. 47. In 1950, HMS Triumph began a tour of the Far East, embarking 800 Naval Air Squadron with Seafire Mk. 47s along with 827 Naval Air Squadron, equipped with Fairey Fireflies. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, HMS Triumph was diverted to interdiction operations to try and stem the North Korean offensive, and her Seafires flew both ground attack and combat air patrol missions from July until September 1950, when Triumph was replaced on station by HMS Theseus, equipped with Sea Furies. During operations off Korea, Seafires flew 360 operational sorties, losing one aircraft shot down by friendly fire from a B-29 Superfortress and a second aircraft lost when its arrestor hook failed to extend. The Seafire, however, proved more vulnerable to the stresses of carrier operation with many aircraft suffering wrinkling of the rear fuselage brought about by heavy landings. Following the end of operations, when peacetime airworthiness rules were re-imposed, all but three of 800 Squadron’s Seafires were declared unserviciable owing to wrinkling.


Contents

"For various reasons Winston Churchill who was First Lord of the Admiralty cancelled the order, writing to Lord Beaverbrook:[3]"

any reason in particular, maybe it was "so as not to divert production away from the land based Spitfire, Winston Churchill, ect." (Fdsdh1 (talk) 17:06, 3 September 2013 (UTC))

The reason for the cancellation was the planned build-up of RAF Fighter Command for Home Defence in preparation for what was expected to follow in case of the possible Fall of France and any subsequent Battle of Britain. It was also for this reason that Dowding resisted the sending of more Spitfires and Hurricanes to France. In this case production of Spitfires for Fighter Command over-rode everything else, and that's why Fulmars were continued-with as they were already in production and where available 'now'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.149.55.0 (talk) 09:25, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

"In spite of these problems the Seafire, especially the L. Mk II and III with their low altitude rated Merlin engines found a role as a low to medium altitude interceptor able to protect the RAN carrier fleet."

Should this read ". to protect the RN carrier fleet." as the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm, AFAIK, didn't operate these aircraft? (203.26.122.12 (talk) 05:22, 24 February 2010 (UTC))

Yep, the RAN operated Sea Furies. postwar. In fact there's no really no need for the RN to be mentioned either. Minorhistorian (talk) 23:39, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

the article says the name was abbreviated from "Sea Spitfire". There is no documentation that "Sea Spitfire" was ever part of the naming process. I think this is pure conjecture. Rsduhamel (talk) 16:59, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Documented or not, it's unlikely it was derived from anything else. I could be wrong, and it was derived from "Sea Hurricane", but I doubt it. - BilCat (talk) 17:21, 11 January 2015 (UTC) Buttler (British Secret Projects 1935-1950 p175) mentions the Admiralty officially asking the Air Ministry if they could have some Spitfires with folding wings and arrester hook in 1940. The disruption to Spitfire production is given as the reason for not proceeding. Buttler uses the phrase Sea Spitfire in single quotes which in the style of the text usually means the text comes from some written document. His books also touches upon other navalised aircraft suggestions from the ministries or manufacturers as developments of existing aircraft (Hawker P.1009 'Sea Typhoon', Boulton Paul P.85 'Sea Defiant'). GraemeLeggett (talk) 18:32, 11 January 2015 (UTC) Cite added to Andrews and Morgan's Supermarine Aircraft since 1914 - p. 247 "The contraction Seafire from Sea Spitfire (c/f Sea Hurricane) was suggested by Mrs Freda Clifton, wife of Alan Clifton of Suoermarine".Nigel Ish (talk) 21:23, 11 January 2015 (UTC) That sounds like solid documentation that "Sea Spitfire" was ever part of the naming process - and that is was the source of the "Seafire" name. Kyteto (talk) 19:41, 12 January 2015 (UTC) Before such an aircraft existed the natural way of asking for one, and to frame an operational requirement for such an aircraft, would be to make a request for a "Sea Spitfire", so it is almost certain that early documentation would refer to the aircraft as-such before the official service name of "Seafire" was allocated. Naval FAA variants of British land-based aircraft had the word "Sea" added as a prefix to the normal RAF service name, "Sea Hurricane", "Sea Vampire", "Sea Fury", etc., and "Seafire" is actually one of the few exceptions to this rule.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.149.55.0 (talk) 09:04, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

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In the infobox it says 7 Jan 1942, in the intro text ". initial batch of Seafire Mk Ib fighters being provided in late 1941. ". Which is true?Truedings (talk) 15:36, 21 June 2020 (UTC)


Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib - History

The British Supermarine Spitfire was the only Allied fighter aircraft of the Second World War .

The British Supermarine Spitfire was the only Allied fighter aircraft of the Second World War to fight in front line service from the beginnings of the conflict, in September 1939, through to the end in August 1945. Post-war, the Spitfire's service career continued into the 1950s.[1] The basic airframe proved to be extremely adaptable, capable of taking far more powerful engines and far greater loads than its original role as a short-range interceptor had called for. This would lead to 19 marks of Spitfire and 52 sub-variants being produced throughout the Second World War, and beyond.[2] The many changes were made in order to fulfill Royal Air Force requirements and to successfully engage in combat with ever-improving enemy aircraft.[3] With the death of the original designer, Reginald J. Mitchell, in June 1937, all variants of the Spitfire were designed by his replacement, Joseph Smith, and a team of engineers and draftsmen.

These articles present a brief history of the Spitfire through all of its variants, including many of the defining characteristics of each sub-type. This particular article deals only with Spitfire variants powered by early model Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, which mostly utilised single-speed, single-stage superchargers. The second article describes Spitfire variants powered by later model Merlins, featuring two-stage, two-speed superchargers, while the final article covers the later Spitfire variants which were powered by the larger Rolls-Royce Griffon engines.


Description

The Seafire F Mk XVII is a rank IV British naval fighter with a battle rating of 5.3 (AB/RB) and 5.7 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.49 "Weapons of Victory".

The first thing to know is that the XVII is a low altitude fighter, unlike the next Seafire - the FR 47 which is a high altitude fighter. Climb rate is fantastic until 2,500 m, where it can still perform quite well until 3,500 m but going over is not recommended as the engine will fail to provide enough power. It is recommended to climb at the beginning of the game until 2,000 m, targeting enemy Attacker aircraft, retreating, climbing up to 3,500 m, baiting down enemy fighters and finishing them on your own turf (under 2,000 m).

The Seafire Mk XVII has excellent manoeuvrability, stock turn time is 18.3 s (AB) and 18.6 s (RB/SB) and once fully upgraded it reaches 16.6 s (AB) and 17 s (RB/SB). Once the first pass of an enemy is dodged, sticking to its tail is not a difficult task as it can out turn many of its opponents especially Germans and Americans.

Stock, the plane is very difficult to handle, the climb rate is horrible (17 m/s in AB, 19.5 m/s in RB/SB), energy retention is lacking, weaponry is inefficient, speed is terrible (603 km/h max speed in AB, 586 km/h max speed in AB/SB). Players will have a bitter time unlocking each and every module of the plane and should stick to a boom and zoom strategy until the performance modules are fully unlocked and installed. 20 mm ammo belts should be researched as soon as it is available to research, but focusing on the performance is the key, 7.7 mm and bombs should be left as the last modules to unlock. Stock, the plane is NOT worth playing in RB, play it in AB until you have at least unlocked all the performance modules.

The 2 x Hispano Mk.V 20 mm guns are devastating once the air belt equipped, composed of 50% HEF-I and 50 HEF-SAPI (HEF-I HEF-I HEF-SAPI HEF-SAPI) it wrecks others fighters in small bursts and does not require much more for medium bombers if used at a convergence point. On the other hand the 7.7 mm appears like an archaic weapon, ineffective but kept as a souvenir of the "good old days" of the Spitfire Mk Ia. Ineffective, yes but not useless actually, the 7.7 mm with tracer can be used as visual guide to see where you are firing with the 20 mm air belt which does not contain tracers! Quite a useful tip in RB for inexperienced players.

Unfortunately the plane is lacking rockets for ground attacks like its elder brother the Seafire FR 47, nevertheless, it can equip up to 2 x 250 lb + 500 lb bombs which are enough to easily destroy medium tanks or finish a damaged base. The payload is useful in late RB game but it should be avoided to start a game with as it affects performance significantly.


Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib - History

Supermarine Seafire
Mks.III, XV & XVII

Catalogue Number:

SW72055 Supermarine Seafire Mk.III

SW72056 Supermarine Seafire Mk.XV Early Version

SW72057 Supermarine Seafire Mk.XV Late Version

SW72058 Supermarine Seafire Mk.XVII

Contents & Media:

Seafire Version

Grey Styrene Parts

Clear Styrene Parts

Resin Parts

Decal Options

Available from these on-line stockists:

Early Version

Late Version

Click here for currency conversion.

Review Type:

Accurate lines, fine surface detail, good cockpit detail, clear canopy, clean and crisp moulding for a limited run tool.

Disadvantages:

Conclusions:

I consider these the best injected kits of the Seafire marks concerned in 1/72-scale. I believe they are equal in terms of accuracy and detail to the CMR&rsquos resin Seafire kits that I used as benchmarks for this review, and over which they offer a significant price advantage due to their method of production. I highly recommend all four.


Sword's 1/72 scale Seafires are available online from Squadron.com

Background

The Admiralty first floated the idea of a &ldquoSea Spitfire&rdquo in mid-1938, and raised the matter again in late 1939, but RAF priorities were such that the request remained unfulfilled. It was not until late in 1941 that the first hooked Spitfire undertook carrier trials and these continued into early 1942.

The first navalised Spitfires, now called Seafires, were conversions of in-service Spitfire Vb&rsquos. They had an A-frame arrester hook fitted with localised strengthening to absorb the extra loads imparted by shipboard landings, incorporated slinging points in the fuselage sides, and naval avionics replaced the RAF equipment. Deliveries of this first version, known as the Seafire Mk.Ib and powered by either Merlin 45 or 46 engines, commenced in mid-1942. From the 49th conversion onwards, Mk.Ib&rsquos incorporated the same fuselage strengthening as used by the Mk.IIc described below. This no doubt stemmed from the development and conversion or production of the two marks being more or less concurrent, and the fact that failures of arrester hooks on some early Mk.Ib&rsquos showed that greater strength was required than first thought.

Based on the Spitfire Mk.Vc, the Seafire Mk.IIc was the first production-line version rather than a conversion of in-service aircraft. Those produced by Supermarine&rsquos factory initially utilised unfinished Spitfire Mk.Vc&rsquos already on the assembly line, whereas all of those built by Westland started assembly as Seafires from the outset.

The Seafire Mk.IIc incorporated several changes from the first Mk.Ib&rsquos. It had significant external strengthening added around the arrester hook mounting points, reinforcement around the radio hatch, external fishplates added to the mid-fuselage longerons, launch spools under the wings and various internal strengthening of the structure. Forty thousand man-hours were devoted to these design changes, but even so, there was an unavoidable growth in weight. This required a beefing up of the undercarriage legs that also had their forward raked increased by 2&rdquo to reduce the risk of nosing over. The Mk.IIc retained the Merlin 45, 46 engines of the Mk.Ib, but introduced the more powerful Merlin 32 engine for low-level fighter and reconnaissance use in conjunction with clipped wings. The Mk.IIc also adopted a four-blade propeller regardless of the engine version used.

Despite a preference for four cannon made possible by the C-wing, the Admiralty accepted that the weight penalty was too much for an aircraft already heavier than the Spitfire Vc. Therefore, the Seafire Mk.IIc had the same firepower as the Mk.Ib, although it could also carry a single 250-lb bomb on its centreline. The first production Seafire Mk.IIc flew in late-May 1942, yet Westland production did not get into its stride until late 1942.

The Seafire Mk.III was the first variant to have folding wings (Westland also produced 30 Hybrid Mk.III&rsquos without folding wings at the end of Mk.IIc production). Folding wings were a huge benefit for stowage aboard ship as they reduced the span by 23&rsquo 4&rdquo. The downside was that having folds also reduced the torsional stiffness of the wing by 10% and added 125-lbs of weight. The Mk.III was otherwise generally similar in appearance to the Mk.IIc. It used either the Merlin 55 or 55M engines that were similar to the Merlin 45/46 but offered barometrically controlled boost to reduce pilot workload. The more powerful Merlin 32 continued to for used the low-level fighter and reconnaissance roles. The Mk.III also introduced the ability to use centreline fuel tanks and could carry a single centreline 500-lb bomb, or alternately two 250-lb bombs or six 60-lb rocket projectiles under its wings.

The Seafire Mk.III served until a short time after the end of WW2, as well as serving post-war with the French Aeronavale and the Irish Air Corps. Griffon-engined Seafires had already begun to replace the Mk.III within the FAA just before the war&rsquos end, and would do so later with the Aeronavale as well.

The Admiralty tested three modified &ldquohooked&rdquo Spitfire Mk.VIII&rsquos two had A-frame arrester hooks and the third a sting type. Although impressed with the Mk.VIII&rsquos speed the Admiralty&rsquos preference was for a Seafire based on the RAF&rsquos new Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk.XII. The next Seafire, named the Mk.XV, received the next available mark number in the shared designation system used for Spitfires and Seafires at the time.

At a quick glance, the Seafire Mk.XV resembles a navalised Spitfire Mk.XII, although this was far from the case under the skin. The Mk.XV was a real mixture in fact. It retained the fuselage of the Seafire MK.III from the firewall to the tail, added to which was the engine of a Spitfire Mk.XII, but without the small acorn blister on top of the cowling and a different fastener arrangement. The tail-plane and retractable tail-wheel derived from the Spitfire Mk.VIII. The wing was the universal type from the Spitfire Mk.Vc, but fitted with two additional leading edge fuel tanks first introduced with the Spitfire Mk.VII & VIII, and used the wing-fold mechanism of the Seafire Mk.III. Its radiator arrangement looked like that of the Spitfire MK.IX but had different plumbing ,with the starboard side handling engine coolant, and the port side both coolant and oil. The main undercarriage was a strengthened version of the Spitfire Mk.VIII&rsquos setup.

The intent behind this parts-bin approach was to speed the Mk.XV&rsquos development and therefore its introduction to service. The last production batch adopted a sting hook and a broader rudder based on that of the Spitfire Mk.XVIII because the sting hook caused the loss of the lower portion of the rudder. The final thirty Mk.XV&rsquos produced by Westland adopted the cut-down rear fuselage decking and teardrop canopy already used by various late production marks of Spitfire, and that was to be associated with the next Seafire, the Mk.XVII.

Deliveries of the Seafire Mk.XV&rsquos began before the end of WW2, but none arrived in time to see action despite the parts-bin approach used to speed its development. It did however fill the gap left after the return of lend-lease US designs that the FAA had relied heavily upon during the war. It was superior to the Hellcat and Corsair as an interceptor with very high speed and rapid climb rate, but lacked the ruggedness, range and attack capabilities that were hallmarks of these US fighters. The Mk.VII also served with the French Aeronavale and Royal Canadian Navy, whilst the Burmese Air Force used some de-navalised examples.

The major external change with the next Seafire, the Mk.XVII, was the adoption of the cut-down rear fuselage decking and teardrop canopy that had debuted on the last batch of Mk.XV&rsquos. Less obvious were its strengthened spar, longer stroke undercarriage, and an increased external weapons payload. The Mk.XVII was an altogether more useful and tougher aircraft than the Mk.XV. It retired from service in 1954, although it was not to be the last in the Seafire line, as further developments paralleled those of the Spitfire using the completely new wing design introduced with the Spitfire F.21. However, this Seafire synopsis must end here because this review only deals with the MK.III, XV & XVII.

Previous 1/72-Scale Seafire Mk.III, XV & XVII Kits

Finding authoritative information on 1/72-scale Seafire kit releases proved more difficult than for Spitfires.

Listed below are the kits and conversions of which I am aware

Mk.III - CMR, Octopus (by Pavla), Ventura, AirGen (conversion), and Airwaves (resin conversion).

Mk.XV - CMR, Ventura/Jays Models, and Airparts (resin conversion).

Mk.XVII - CMR, Ventura/Jays Models, Aeroclub (styrene & white metal conversion) and Airparts (resin conversion).

The CMR kits date from a several years ago and originally came in bags with decals and detailed instructions etc. These kits now come boxed, and in five of the nine kits include coloured PE details by Eduard (their Mk.XV&rsquos, Mk.XVII & F.45 do not). They are refined and well detailed, but are not as sophisticated as the more recent hi-tech style kits CMR produces. They remain easy to build with a low parts count.

The Octopus Mk.III had excellent resin cockpit detail, exaggerated fuselage reinforcement detail, and classic limited run parts with a very rough surface texture despite having fine panel lines. It has been out of production for some time now.

Ventura&rsquos kits, some now re-boxed by Jays Models, are very accurate and use Falcon canopies. To date Jays Models have re-released the Seafire Mk.XV (both A-frame & sting hook versions), Mk.XVII & F.47. Moulded using low-pressure rubber moulds, they still manage to have very delicate panel lines, but also a considerable amount of flash and thick sprue gates. They are about half CMR&rsquos price, but take significantly more effort to build, have far less interior detail, and some parts really need replacement. They remain the province of spendthrift accuracy masochists unwilling to pay for a CMR kit.

Highplanes definitely offered a Mk.IIc, but I do not think they offered any other Seafires in 1/72-scale. Their kits are similar to Ventura&rsquos, but with generally better detail parts. There are bound to be some releases I have missed, and I would not be surprised to find that Pegasus or Merlin have also offered some 1/72 Seafires too.
It is worth mentioning that both CMR and Ventura have covered all marks of Seafire in 1/72-scale, and that Admiral (an AZ Model brand) has recently kitted the F.47 as well. Even so, it has been a long wait for modern injected 1/72-scale kits of some the most significant intermediate Seafire marks. This seems odd when you consider that Seafires offer quite different and appealing colour schemes to those worn by Spitfires. I am sure that Spitfire and naval aviation fans alike will welcome Sword&rsquos latest Seafire releases.

FirstLook

The kits reviewed here are typical of Sword, being limited-run injected styrene kits with clear styrene canopies and several decal options. They include a very modest amount of resin and no PE parts. The end-opening boxes have rather uninspiring computer generated artwork on the front with colour profiles of the decal schemes offered on the rear.

The folded A-4 sized instructions contain a parts map and diagrammatic assembly stages as you would expect. I would describe the instructions as being of better quality than many of their competitors, with well-drawn and clear diagrams. Paint call-outs use either generic or British military colour names, and do not refer to recognized paint systems or model paint ranges. Written instructions are in English and Czech, and used sparingly.

A re-sealable cellophane bag contains all of the kit components and instructions, with the canopy further protected by its own zip-lock bag. The parts are typically limited run in that they lack locating lugs, and the mould engineering avoids deep draws. Less typical however, is the gloss finish with very little flash present and fine sprue gates. These features provide an immediate impression of better quality than applies to many limited run brands. Unsurprisingly, the Mk.III sprues share some parts with Sword&rsquos Spitfire Mk.Vc kit, whereas the two Mk.XV and Mk.XVII kits have mainly common parts other than different fuselages. All of the canopies look thin and clear, and the decals appear well printed.

These Seafire kits have some of the best limited run parts I have seen. They should need only a little more cleaning prep than their mainstream brand equivalents, and maybe some fit adjustment, but that is about it. Despite this, I am a firm believer in buying early following a new limited run kit&rsquo release, as their moulds can become tired and sometimes damaged as production takes its toll on them.

Surface detail is very good with delicate recessed panel lines that are uninterrupted and of a consistent depth, unlike some short run kits that need re-scribing in places.

The Mk.III & XV/XVII cockpits differ slightly, but the following observations apply equally each kit. All have sidewall detail moulded inside the fuselage halves, a rear frame with separate seat armour, headrest, and a solid floor that simulates the real plane&rsquos open structure along with rudder actuator rods and pedals. The instrument panel looks good complete with its compass repeater. The seat is good, but there is no harness. The Mk.III has a voltage regulator behind the headrest. A good control column, oxygen bottles, and a nice gun-sight complete the cockpit. The one-piece canopy is thin and clear with a small mirror to mount on the windscreen.

Airframe construction for all marks is conventional and essentially the same. The trailing edges of wings are commendably fine, conforming more to the general limits of long rather than short-run injection moulding. Some will still wish to refine these further however. The Mk.XVII has separate wheel bulges for the upper wing that are characteristic of late model Spitfires and Seafires. The radiator housings have separate matrix faces and the underside of the wing has the correctly shaped trough to allow for the full depth of these. The elevators and rudders have nicely done fabric areas.

The fuselages all differ as they should, and reflect the various characteristics of the applicable mark described earlier. The internal detail for the Mk III differs slightly from that used for the Mk.XV & VII kits, which suggest Sword have done some homework. The early Mk.XV has the same A-frame arrester hook arrangement as the Mk.III. Two parts cater for this, one being the fuselage insert and the other the combined hinged section of fuselage and hook. These parts fit into a slot within the fuselage halves, and enable you to position the hook dropped if desired.

The late Mk.XV & XVII kits feature the sting-hook, and the Mk.XVII has the cut down rear fuselage and teardrop style canopy.

The simple and small main wheel wells have their sides boxed in where the leg retracts by two separate straight parts, whilst curved pieces moulded integrally with the lower wing partially enclose the circular wheel opening, the remaining open portion of which is closed off by a separate flat section part. The crisply moulded undercarriage legs have separate scissors links in the case of the Mk.XV & XVII kits. These plus the doors and wheels all appear fine, as do the two types of tail wheel arrangement.

The cannons and the blanking domes can be a weak point with injected Seafire and Spitfire kits. The Mk.III&rsquos cannons are better than I expected to find in a limited run kit. Cleaned up I think they will be most acceptable. The Mk.XV & XVII kits have very good resin cannons for some reason, and so avoid the potential problem altogether.

The props and spinners look the part for both engine types, with the blades having quite reasonable shape and adequate chord. The exhausts in all cases are resin and have the correct appearance. These fit into a recess created by cementing backing boxes inside then fuselage halves. An under-wing pitot, and where applicable an antenna mast complete the assembly. The only under-wing store on offer is a cigar-style drop tank with the Griffon-engined kits. It would have been nice to have some bombs, rockets and external tanks for all three marks, and possibly the small combat-rated wing-tanks for the Mk.XV & XVII but I suppose there is no point being greedy.

The painting and markings guide for each kit consists of black & white shaded four-view drawings within the instructions, with each scheme supported by a single colour profile on the reverse face of the kit box. Colour call-outs use British military colour names only. The decals, printed by Techmod, look to be good quality with sharp registration. There is sheet of stencils and walkway lines common to each kit but printed within the kit&rsquos own decal sheet. A small four-view guide in the instructions details the stencil locations.

The markings options provided by each kit are as follows:

Flotille I.F, Aeronavale, aboard Aromanches, Gulf of Tonkin, December 1948. (Extra-dark sea grey & slate grey over sky, with a red spinner and sky rudder.)

No 807 NAS, HMS Hunter, British East Indies Fleet, Adaman Sea, May 1945. (Extra-dark sea grey & slate grey over sky, with a white spinner and white recognition bands on the wings and tail.)

No 887 NAS, HMS Implacable, October 1944 or No761 NAS, HMS Ranger, May 1945. (Dark green & ocean grey over medium sea grey with a red spinner &ndash These are unusual colours for a Seafire I feel, and would advise some reference checking before finishing in these colours.)

No 894 NAS, HMS Indefatigable, British Pacific Fleet, Sakishima Gunto Group of Islands, May 1945. (Extra-dark sea grey & slate grey over sky, with a slate grey spinner.)

Seafire Mk.XV Early (A-Frame Hook)

No 883 Sqn RCNAS, Dartmouth, June 1948. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a sky spinner.)

Escadrille de Servitude 54.S, Aeronavale, Hyeres, near Toulon, June 1950. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a yellow spinner.)

No 802 NAS, HMS Vengeance, Far East, early 1947. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a white spinner.)

Seafire Mk.XV Late (Sting Hook)

No 806 NAS, HMS Glory, 16th Carrier Air Group, Australian Tour, September 1946. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a black spinner with thin white line.)

No 806 NAS, HMS Glory, 16th Carrier Air Group, Australian Tour, September 1946. (Extra-dark sea grey & slate grey over sky, with a black spinner with thin white line.)

No 805 NAS, Hal Far, Malta, August 1946. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, with a sky spinner.)

No 741 NAS, Operational Flying Training Unit, Air Warfare School, RNAS St Merryn, 1947. (Extra-dark sea grey & slate grey over sky, with a yellow spinner, ailerons, wingtips and elevators.)

No 1833 NAS, RNVS Bramcote, 1947. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a red spinner.)

No 767 NAS, Deck Landing Control Officer Training Unit, 50th Air Training Group, RNAS Yeovilton, 1950. (Extra-dark sea grey over sky, including the fuselage and fin, with a red spinner and white tailfin, rudder and rear fuselage.)

The four Sword Seafire kits look good in terms of general accuracy when compared to in-service images. I have not made a detailed comparison to plans I have because there are no assurances regarding their accuracy. I do however think it useful to compare the review subjects to those kits that have gone before and that remain their rivals.

I compared the review kits to what I consider are the best 1/72 Seafire kits available, these all being CMR kits. Because these are relatively expensive resin kits, I feel that the Ventura Kits, now branded Jays Models, deserve a mention as a cheaper alternative. They too have a reputation for very accurate shape and fine panel lines (I do not own any to make a direct comparison with, but I am familiar with the Ventura-produced product). Yet whilst their retail price is essentially the same as Sword&rsquos, I do not consider them worth comparing in detail because they are so demanding to build. Please rest assured that the Sword kits reviewed here simply blow them away in all respects.

Some will feel that the Octopus (by Pavla) Seafire Mk.III deserves a comparison with its Sword equivalent. I no longer own one to compare directly, and it is now out of production. I do recall that it had an extremely well detailed resin cockpit, but also that it was a &ldquoclassic limited run kit&rdquo, with most of the less favourable connotations that description implies. It had very rough surface finish and overly prominent fuselage reinforcement detail, thick sprue gates, and demanded a lot of cleaning up and fit adjustment. It would take far more effort to build than the Sword kit, and it cost a more originally. Regardless of its accuracy or otherwise, upon which I cannot comment, I am sure that few would buy it preference to the much more refined Sword Seafire Mk.III kit now available.

Ignoring Jays Models and Octopus then, I shall quickly compare the Sword and CMR kits. The flying surfaces are essentially the same in outline for all marks of both brands. A quick (and a little rough & ready) measurement of unassembled parts shows all marks of both brands scale out to be either spot on or within about a millimetre of published dimensions, meaning they are within a scale 3 inches of where they should be. The Sword fuselages for all marks are about 1-mm longer than the CMR equivalents, and this extra length seems to lie in the rear fuselage. CMR&rsquos overall lengths proved closer to the published dimensions. However, overall linear measurements do not give a true picture when proportionality is considered. The comparison seems too close in my opinion to draw any definitive conclusions, other than to say that I think both brands stack up very well for shape and scale, and are almost indistinguishable in this regard.

So taking a snapshot, in my view Sword&rsquos Seafire kits are very good in terms of shape and accuracy because they correspond so well to CMR&rsquos lines. In fact, so much so, that CMR&rsquos folding wing set for their Seafire Mk.XV & XVII kits will work perfectly well with Sword&rsquos equivalent kits. The Sword kits need a bit more assembly effort because they have quite a few more parts compared to the CMR kits, but few will complain about this. Given their price advantage over CMR&rsquos resin Seafires, and the familiarity most modellers have with injected kits, this comparison must weigh heavily in Sword&rsquos favour.

Conclusion

These kits conform almost precisely in outline to CMR&rsquos Seafire kits which I like to use as a benchmark for 1/72 Seafire accuracy, and so I think that they are very good in terms of shape and dimensional accuracy.
The moulding of the kits is very clean and crisp for a limited run product, and rate as some of the best I have seen in this regard. This quality may deteriorate as the moulds wear over time however, so buy early releases to get good examples. Cockpit detail is also very good for an injected kit, requiring only seatbelts to finish for a closed canopy model at least. I cannot think of any points to criticise as such, although a small quibble would be the absence of under-wing stores except for the cigar tank with the Mk.XV & VII kits.

If you have a hangar-deck fetish, you could accessorise your Mk.XV or XVII using CMR Seafire wing fold set, which is a drop-in fit.

These four Seafire kits by Sword are not only the best injected kits of these marks in this scale I have seen, but equal CMR&rsquos in all the ways that matter, with the advantage of injected kit pricing. It should come as no surprise then that I highly recommend them all.


Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib - History

Performance:
Maximum Speed:
Mk. I: 355-362 mph (580 kph)
Mk. IX: 408 mph (657 kph)
Mk. XIV: 448 mph (721 kph)
Seafire 47: 451 mph (724 kph)
Initial Climb:
Mk. I: 2,530 ft/min (770 m/min)
Mk. IX: 4,100 ft/min (1250 m/min)
Mk. XIV: 4,580 ft/min (1396 m/min)
Seafire 47: 4,800 ft/min (1463 m/min)
Service Ceiling: N/A
Range (Internal Fuel):
Mk. I: 395 miles (637 km)
Mk. IX: 434 miles (700 km)
Mk. XIV: 460 miles (740 km)
Seafire 47: 405 miles (652 km)

Armament:
See Variants List
Variants List: Main Types

Mk. I: Initial version, equipped with 1,030 hp Merlin II, two-blade fixed-pitch propeller and four .303 in. Browning machine guns.
Production: 450

Mk. IA: As I except eight .303 Brownings, bulged canopy, and three-blade DH v-p propeller.
Production: N/A

Mk. IB: As IA except two 20mm Hispano Cannon and four .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 1,566

Mk. IIA: Mk. I built at Castle Bromwich with 1,175 hp Merlin XII and Rotol propeller, with eight .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 750

Mk. IIB: As IIA, except two 20mm Hispano Cannon and four .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 170

Mk. IV: First Griffon engined model. Details unavailable.
Production: N/A

PR.IV: Photo Reconnaisance version of Mk. IV, unarmed and equipped with 1,440hp Merlin 45..
Production: 229

Mk. V: Powered by 1,440hp Merlin 45. Many detail changes. Main fighter type from 1941-42. Equipped with centerline rack for 500 lb. (227 kg) bomb or tank. Many with clipped wings and/or tropical filter under nose. Built in three types:
Mk. VA: Eight .303 in. Brownings in wings.
Production: 94
Mk. VB: Two 20mm Hispano cannon and
four .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 3,923
Mk. VC: Universal wing with various gun
configurations, additional racks for 250 lb.
(113 kg.) bombs on wings.
Production: 2,447

Mk. VI: Interim high altitude interceptor, 1,415 hp Merlin 47, pressurized cockpit, two 20mm Hispano Cannon and four .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 100

Mk. VII: High altitude interceptor, extended wing-tips 1,660 hp Merlin 61 with two stage supercharger and symetrical underwing radiators, pressurized cockpit, retractable tail wheel, later broad and pointed rudder. Armament configuration: N/A
Production: 140

Mk. VIII: Followed interim Mk. IX, virtually unpressurized Mk. VII in three forms: LF Low altitude, clipped wing, F Standard, and HF High Altitude, extended wing.
Production (All Three forms): 1,658

Mk. IX: Hastily designed response to the Fw 190 created by fitting a Mk. V with 1,660 hp Merlin 61. Produced in LF, F, and HF versions plus IXE version with two 20mm Hispano cannon and two .5 in Brownings.
Production (All four forms): 5,665

Mk. X: Pressurised photo reconnaisance, equipped with Merlin 77. Leading edge of wing formed into fuel tank.
Production: 16

Mk. XI: As Mk. X but unpressurised. 1,760 Merlin 63A or 1,655 hp Merlin 70. Primary aircraft of Photo Reconnaisance Units 1943-1945.
Production: 471

Mk. XII: Low altitude versions designed to deal with Fw 190 hit and run raiders. 1,735 hp Griffon III or IV. Strengthed Mk. VC airframe with clipped wings.
Production: 100

Mk. XIII: Low-level reconnaissance, low-rated 1,620 hp Merlin 32, Four .303 in. Brownings.
Production: 16

Mk. XIV: First model with two-stage Griffon, Mk. 65 rated at 2,050 hp with deep symetric radiators and five-blade propeller. The airframe was completely redesigned and incorporated a broad fin/rudder, inboard ailerons, retractable tail wheel. Active in 1944, destroyed over 300 V-1s.
F.XIV: Two 20mm Hispano and four .303 brownings.
F.XIVE: Two 20mm Hispano and two .5 in. brownings.
FR.XIVE: Same guns as F.XIVE, cut-down fuselage
and clipped wings, teardrop hood.
F.24: Cameras and extra fuel.
Production (all forms): 957

Mk. XVI: As Mk. IX except 1,705 hp Packard Merlin 266 LF.IXE, E-guns and clipped wings, many built with teardrop hood, extra fuel.
Production: 1,054

Mk. XVIII: Definative wartime version fighter. Derived from interim XIV, extra fuel, stronger airframe, F and FR versions. Some FR versions with even more fuel and tropical equipment.
Production: 300

Mk. XIX: Final photo-reconnaisance version. Unpressurised version with 2,050 hp Griffon 65, pressurised version with Griffon 66 and increased wing tankage. Both versions capable of handling deep slipper tanks for 1,800 mile (2900 km) range. Made last RAF Spitfire sortie over Malaya on April 1, 1954.
Production: 225

Model 21: Post-war. Redesigned aircraft with different structure and shape. 2,050 hp Griffon 65 or 85, four 20mm cannon and rack for 1,000 lb. (454 kg) bombs.
Production: 300

Model 22: Bubble hood, 24-volt electics. Some with 2,375 hp Griffon 65 with contrarotating prop.
Production: 278

Model 24: Redesigned tail, short-barrel cannon, zero-length rocket launchers.
Production: 54

Seafire IB: Navalised Spitfire VB, usually with 1,415 hp low-rated Merlin 46. Fixed wings but hook and slinging points.
Conversions from Mk. VB: 266

Seafire IIC: Catapult spools, strengthened landing gear, 1,645 hp Merlin 32 and four-blade propeller. Various sub-types. Universal wing.
Production: 262 by Supermarine, 110 by Westland.

Seafire III: Manual double-fold wing, 1,585 hp Merlin 55M, various versions.
Production: 870 by Westland, 350 by Cunliffe-Owen.

Seafire XV (Late F.15): 1,850 hp Griffon VI, four-blade propeller. Asymmetric radiators. Cross between Seafire III and Spitfire XII.
Production: 390

Seafire XVII (Late F.17): Increased fuel, cut-down fuselage and bubble hood.
Production (curtailed by war's end): 232

Seafire 45: New aircraft based on Spitfire 21 with Griffon 61 (five-blade) or 85 (contrarotating props), fixed wing with four 20mm cannon.
Production: 50

Seafire 46: Aircraft based on Spitfire 22.
Production: 24

Seafire 47: Navalized Spitfire 24. Hydraulically folding wings, carb-air intake just behind propeller, increased fuel. Fought in Malaya and Korea..
Production: 140


Supermarine Seafire Mk.Ib - History

Supermarine Seafire
Mk.IIc & Mk. III

S u m m a r y :

Catalogue Number:

SW72083 Supermarine Seafire Mk.IIc

SW72084 Supermarine Seafire Mk.III

Contents & Media:

Grey Styrene Parts

Clear Styrene Parts

Resin Parts

Decal Options

Available from these on-line stockists:

West Coast Hobbys

Click here for currency conversion.

Review Type:

Accurate lines, fine surface detail, good cockpit detail, clear canopy, clean and crisp moulding for a limited run tooling.

Disadvantages:

These kits conform almost precisely in outline to CMR&rsquos Seafire kits which I like to use as a benchmark for 1/72 Seafire accuracy, and so I think that they are very good in terms of shape and dimensional accuracy.

The moulding of the kits is very clean and crisp for a limited run product, and rate as some of the better examples I have seen in this regard. Cockpit detail is also very good for an injected kit, requiring only seatbelts to finish for a closed canopy model at least. The inclusion of resin cannons in these re-issued kits may be a benefit that offsets halving the decal options when compared to previous releases although after some thought, I am neutral on this point.

These re-released Seafire kits by Sword are not only the best injected kits of these marks in this scale I have seen, but equal CMR&rsquos in all the ways that matter (but with fewer decal options), with the advantage of injected kit pricing. It should come as no surprise then that recommend them highly.

Background

The Admiralty first floated the idea of a &ldquoSea Spitfire&rdquo in mid-1938, and raised the matter again in late 1939, but RAF priorities were such that the request remained unfulfilled. It was not until late in 1941 that the first hooked Spitfire undertook carrier trials and these continued into early 1942.

The first navalised Spitfires, now called Seafires, were conversions of in-service Spitfire Vb&rsquos. They had an A-frame arrester hook fitted with localised strengthening to absorb the extra loads imparted by shipboard landings, incorporated slinging points in the fuselage sides, and naval avionics replaced the RAF equipment. Deliveries of this first version, known as the Seafire Mk.Ib and powered by either Merlin 45 or 46 engines, commenced in mid-1942. From the 49th conversion onwards, Mk.Ib&rsquos incorporated the same fuselage strengthening as used by the Mk.IIc described below. This no doubt stemmed from the development and conversion or production of the two marks being more or less concurrent, and the fact that failures of arrester hooks on some early Mk.Ib&rsquos showed that greater strength was required than first thought.

Based on the Spitfire Mk.Vc, the Seafire Mk.IIc was the first production-line version rather than a conversion of in-service aircraft. Those produced by Supermarine&rsquos factory initially utilised unfinished Spitfire Mk.Vc&rsquos already on the assembly line, whereas all of those built by Westland started assembly as Seafires from the outset.

The Seafire Mk.IIc incorporated several changes from the first Mk.Ib&rsquos. It had significant external strengthening added around the arrester hook mounting points, reinforcement around the radio hatch, external fishplates added to the mid-fuselage longerons, launch spools under the wings and various internal strengthening of the structure. Forty thousand man-hours were devoted to these design changes, but even so, there was an unavoidable growth in weight. This required a beefing up of the undercarriage legs that also had their forward raked increased by 2&rdquo to reduce the risk of nosing over. The Mk.IIc retained the Merlin 45, 46 engines of the Mk.Ib, but introduced the more powerful Merlin 32 engine for low-level fighter and reconnaissance use in conjunction with clipped wings. The Mk.IIc also adopted a four-blade propeller regardless of the engine version used.

Despite a preference for four cannon made possible by the C-wing, the Admiralty accepted that the weight penalty was too much for an aircraft already heavier than the Spitfire Vc. Therefore, the Seafire Mk.IIc had the same firepower as the Mk.Ib, although it could also carry a single 250-lb bomb on its centreline. The first production Seafire Mk.IIc flew in late-May 1942, yet Westland production did not get into its stride until late 1942.

The Seafire Mk.III was the first variant to have folding wings (Westland also produced 30 Hybrid Mk.III&rsquos without folding wings at the end of Mk.IIc production). Folding wings were a huge benefit for stowage aboard ship as they reduced the span by 23&rsquo 4&rdquo. The downside was that having folds also reduced the torsional stiffness of the wing by 10% and added 125-lbs of weight. The Mk.III was otherwise generally similar in appearance to the Mk.IIc. It used either the Merlin 55 or 55M engines that were similar to the Merlin 45/46 but offered barometrically controlled boost to reduce pilot workload. The more powerful Merlin 32 continued to for used the low-level fighter and reconnaissance roles. The Mk.III also introduced the ability to use centreline fuel tanks and could carry a single centreline 500-lb bomb, or alternately two 250-lb bombs or six 60-lb rocket projectiles under its wings.

The Seafire Mk.III served until a short time after the end of WW2, as well as serving post-war with the French Aeronavale and the Irish Air Corps. Griffon-engined Seafires had already begun to replace the Mk.III within the FAA just before the war&rsquos end, and would do so later with the Aeronavale as well.

FirstLook

The kits reviewed here are re-issues of releases made by Sword in 2012 the Seafire Mk.IIc&rsquos previous stock number being SW72040, and the Mk.III&rsquos SW 72055. They remain nicely moulded and detailed limited-run kits with clear styrene canopies. They include a modest amount of resin, but no PE parts. The end-opening boxes have digitally created artwork on the front with colour profiles of the decal schemes offered on the rear.

The folded A-4 sized instructions contain a parts map and diagrammatic assembly stages as you would expect. The instructions have well-drawn and clear diagrams, but the parts map does not list all resin parts, and fails to cross off many surplus Spitfire Mk V parts (making an accurate parts count tricky for reviewers!). Paint call-outs use either generic or British military colour names, and do not refer to recognized paint systems or model paint ranges. Written instructions are in English and Czech, and used sparingly.

A zip-lock plastic bag contains all of the kit components and instructions, with the canopy further protected by its own zip-lock bag the resin parts being loose within the main bag. The parts are typically limited run in that they lack locating lugs, and the mould engineering avoids deep draws. The canopies look thin and clear, and the decals appear well printed.

Unsurprisingly, the kits share some parts with Sword&rsquos Spitfire Mk.Vc kit. Unlike their earlier Seafire IIc & III boxings, the surplus Spitfire fuselages, and in the case of the Seafire III, the wings also, remain on the sprues. So Sword&rsquos labour-saving benefits the spares box with these and several other parts such as propellers and exhausts. These two new boxings also feature resin cannon barrels and blanking-domes unlike the earlier boxing styrene cannons, which are still on the sprues. In fact, four resin cannon are provided, but only two were fitted to these early marks of Seafire. The trade off for having resin parts seems to be limiting the kits to two decal options in each case, versus the earlier boxings&rsquo four.

I normally believe in buying early following a new limited run kit&rsquos release, as their moulds can become tired and sometimes damaged as production runs take their toll on them. However, I compared this latest Seafire III (SW72084) release to my remaining copy of the earlier boxing (SW72055) and could not see any readily noticeable difference in quality between them. The kit parts should need only a little more cleaning prep than their mainstream brand equivalents, and maybe some fit adjustment, but that is about it.

Surface detail is very good with delicate recessed panel lines that are uninterrupted and of a consistent depth, unlike some short run kits that need re-scribing in places.

The cockpits have sidewall detail moulded inside the fuselage halves, a rear frame with separate seat armour, headrest, and a solid floor that simulates the real plane&rsquos open structure along with rudder actuator rods and pedals. The instrument panel looks good complete with its compass repeater. The seat is good, but there is no harness. There is a voltage regulator to go behind the headrest. A good control column, oxygen bottles, and a nice gun-sight complete the cockpit (two styles are included but only one is applicable). The one-piece canopy is thin and clear with a small mirror to mount on the windscreen.

Airframe construction for both marks is conventional and the same. The trailing edges of wings are commendably fine. The radiator housings have separate matrix faces and the underside of the wing has the correctly shaped trough to allow for the full depth of these. The elevators and rudders have nicely represented fabric areas.

The fuselages all differ from a Spitfire&rsquos as they should with fish-plate longerons running along the mid-fuselage, catapult spools and reinforcing to the lower mid-rear fuselage, and strengthening around the radio hatch. The A-frame arrester hook arrangement is catered for with two parts, one being the fuselage insert and the other the combined hinged section of fuselage and hook. These parts fit into a slot within the fuselage halves, and enable you to position the hook dropped if desired. The Seafire III&rsquos wings include the fold lines. Both kits have a clipped wing option that requires the regular tips to be cut off and replaced with the clipped version&rsquos fairings.

The simple and small main wheel wells have their sides boxed in where the leg retracts by two separate straight parts, whilst curved pieces moulded integrally with the lower wing partially enclose the circular wheel opening, the remaining open portion of which is closed off by a separate flat section part. The undercarriage legs should be fitted with 2 degrees more rake than would a Spitfire&rsquos. The legs, doors and wheels all appear fine.

The cannons and the blanking domes can be a weak point with injected Seafire and Spitfire kits. The Mk.III&rsquos cannons are better than might expected in a limited run kit, and cleaned up they should be most acceptable. However, taking a leaf from their Seafire Mk.XV & XVII kits, Sword have included very good resin cannons for some reason, and so avoid the potential problem altogether. The &ldquoprice&rdquo as mentioned earlier, seems to be a halving of the deal options supplied .

The props and spinners look the part, with the blades having quite reasonable shape and adequate chord. A pair of resin exhausts replaces the styrene examples also supplied, but these are not mentioned on the parts map. These fit into a recess created by cementing backing boxes inside then fuselage halves. An under-wing pitot and antenna mast complete the assembly. The Mk.III could carry a bombs or rockets, but none are provided.

The painting and markings guide for each kit consists of black & white shaded four-view drawings within the instructions, with each scheme supported by a single colour profile on the reverse face of the kit box. Colour call-outs use British military colour names only. The decals, printed by Techmod, look to be good quality with sharp registration. I can report that I have found Sword&rsquos decals to be very good when I have used them previously. There is sheet of stencils and walkway lines common to each kit but printed within the kit&rsquos own decal sheet. A small four-view guide in the instructions details the stencil locations.

The markings options provided by each kit are as follows:

Seafire Mk.IIc

  • MB 218, 809 NAS, Operation Avalanche, HMS Unicorn 1943 and
  • MB 156, 880 NAS, Operation Torch, HMS Argus 1942.

Seafire Mk.III

I have previously compared Sword&rsquos Seafire kits to other brand Seafires, including those I consider are the best 1/72 examples available these being resin kits by CMR. I already regard the Sword kits as superior and better value than alternative Seafire Mk.IIc or III kits by both Highplanes and Pavla, so shall restrict my comments here to comparison with the CMR kits.

The comparison showed that the flying surfaces are essentially the same in outline for both brands. A quick (and a little rough & ready) measurement of unassembled parts shows all marks of both brands scale out to be either spot on or within about a millimetre of published dimensions, meaning they are within a scale 3 inches of where they should be. The Sword fuselages for all marks are about 1-mm longer than the CMR equivalents, and this extra length seems to lie in the rear fuselage. CMR&rsquos overall lengths proved closer to the published dimensions. However, overall linear measurements do not give a true picture when proportionality is considered. The comparison seems too close in my opinion to draw any definitive conclusions, other than to say that I think both brands stack up very well for shape and scale, and are almost indistinguishable in this regard.

So, in my view Sword&rsquos Seafire kits are very good in terms of shape and accuracy because they correspond so well to CMR&rsquos lines. The Sword kits need a bit more assembly effort because they have quite a few more parts compared to the CMR kits, but few will complain about this. Given their price advantage over CMR&rsquos resin Seafires, and the familiarity most modellers have with injected kits, this comparison must weigh heavily in Sword&rsquos favour.

Conclusion

These kits conform almost precisely in outline to CMR&rsquos Seafire kits which I like to use as a benchmark for 1/72 Seafire accuracy, and so I think that they are very good in terms of shape and dimensional accuracy.

The moulding of the kits is very clean and crisp for a limited run product, and rate as some of the better examples I have seen in this regard. Cockpit detail is also very good for an injected kit, requiring only seatbelts to finish for a closed canopy model at least. The inclusion of resin cannons in these re-issued kits may be a benefit that offsets halving the decal options when compared to previous releases although after some thought, I am neutral on this point.

These re-released Seafire kits by Sword are not only the best injected kits of these marks in this scale I have seen, but equal CMR&rsquos in all the ways that matter (but with fewer decal options), with the advantage of injected kit pricing. It should come as no surprise then that recommend them highly.

Thanks to Sword Models and Hannants for this review sample.


Development [ edit | edit source ]

In late 1941 and early 1942, the Admiralty assessed the Spitfire for possible conversion. In late 1941 48 Spitfire Mk Vb were converted by Air Training Service Ltd. at Hamble to become "hooked Spitfires". This was the Seafire Mk Ib and would be the first of several Seafire variants to reach the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. This version of the Seafire was mainly used to allow the Royal Navy to gain experience in operating the Spitfire on aircraft carriers. The main structural change was made to the lower rear fuselage which incorporated an A-frame style arrestor hook and strengthened lower longerons. It was soon discovered that the fuselage, especially around hatches, was too weak for carrier operations. In an attempt to alleviate this condition, reinforcing strips were riveted around hatch openings and along the main fuselage longerons. A further 118 Seafire Mk Ib's incorporating the fuselage reinforcements were modified from Spitfire Vbs by Cunliffe-Owen at Eastleigh and Air Training Service. These aircraft were equipped with Naval HF radio equipment and IFF equipment as well as a Type 72 homing beacon. In these and all subsequent Seafires the instruments were re-calibrated to read kn and nmi rather than mph and mi. The fixed armament was the same as that of the Spitfire Vb two 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon with 60 rpg fed from a "drum" magazine and four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns with 350 rpg. Provision was also made to carry a 30 gal (136 l) "slipper" fuel tank under the fuselage.

One front line unit, 801 Squadron operated this version on board HMS Furious from October 1942 through to September 1944.

The second semi-naval variant of the Seafire and the first to be built as such, was the Seafire F Mk IIc which was based on the Spitfire Vc. The Vc had several refinements over the Spitfire Vb. Apart from the modifications included in the main batch of Seafire Ibs this version incorporated catapult spools, and a single slinging lug on either side of the fuselage, just behind the engine bulkhead. Three subtypes were produced, the F Mk IIc and FR Mk IIc (fighter reconnaissance), powered by a Merlin 46, and the L Mk IIc powered by a low altitude Merlin 32 specifically manufactured for naval use. This version of the Merlin used a "cropped" supercharger impellor to provide greater power at low altitudes than the standard engines delivering 1,585 hp (1,182 kW) at 2,750 ft (838 m). Both engine models drove a four bladed 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter Rotol propeller. Because this version used the "C" wing the Hispano cannon were fed from a 120-round belt magazine, otherwise the armament was the same as that of the Ib the FR also carried two F24 cameras. After trials of Rocket Assisted Take Off Gear (RATOG) apparatus (small rocket engines which could be attached to the fuselage or wings of aircraft to help shorten the take-off run) in February 1943, this equipment became a standard fitting available for all Seafires.

The IIc was the first of the Seafires to be deployed operationally in large numbers, with Supermarine building 262 and 110 being built by Westland, [nb 1] who also built 30 Seafire Mk III (Hybrid) (Mk IIIs without folding wings). [nb 2] Although developed for aircraft carrier use, this version still lacked the folding wings needed to allow them to be used on board some Royal Navy carriers, some of which had small aircraft elevators unable to accommodate the full wingspan of the Seafires.

The Seafire F Mk III was the first true carrier adaptation of the Spitfire design. It was developed from the Seafire Mk IIC, but incorporated manually folding wings allowing more of these aircraft to be spotted on deck or in the hangars below. Supermarine devised a system of two straight chordwise folds a break was introduced immediately outboard of the wheel-wells from which the wing hinged upwards and slightly angled towards the fuselage. A second hinge at each wingtip join allowed the tips to fold down (when the wings were folded the wingtips were folded outwards). This version used the more powerful Merlin 55 (F Mk III and FR Mk III) or Merlin 55M (L Mk III), driving the same four-bladed propeller unit used by the IIC series the Merlin 55M was another version of the Merlin for maximum performance at low altitude. Other modifications that were made on the Spitfire made their way to the Seafire as well including a slim Aero-Vee air filter and six-stack ejector type exhausts. The shorter barreled, lightweight Hispano Mk V cannon were introduced during production as were overload fuel tank fittings in the wings Δ] Ε] This Mark was built in larger numbers than any other Seafire variant of the 1,220 manufactured Westland built 870 and Cunliffe Owen 350. In 1947 12 Mk IIIs were stripped of their naval equipment by Supermarine and delivered to the Irish Air Corps. Ζ] Η]

After the Mk III series the next Seafire variant to appear was the Seafire F Mk XV, which was powered by a Griffon VI (single-stage supercharger, rated at 1,850 hp (1,379 kW) at 2,000 ft (610 ft) driving a 10 ft 5 in Rotol propeller. Designed in response to Specification N.4/43 this appeared to be a naval Spitfire F Mk XII in reality the Mk XV was an amalgamation of a strengthened Seafire III airframe and wings with the wing fuel tanks, retractable tailwheel, larger elevators and broad-chord "pointed" rudder of the Spitfire VIII. The engine cowling was different to that of the Spitfire XII series, being secured with a larger number of fasteners and lacking the acorn shaped blister behind the spinner. The final 30 Mk XVs were built with the blown "teardrop" cockpit canopy and cut down rear fuselage introduced on the Spitfire Mk XVI. On the first 50 aircraft manufactured by Cunliffe-Owen a heavier, strengthened A-frame arrestor hook was fitted to cope with the greater weight. ⎖] On subsequent Mk XVs a new form of "sting" type arrestor hook was used this version was attached to the reinforced rudder post at the rear of the fuselage and was housed in a fairing below the base of the shortened rudder. A vee-shaped guard forward of the tailwheel prevented arrestor wires getting tangled up with the tailwheel.

390 Seafire XVs were built by Cunliffe-Owen and Westland from late 1944. Six prototypes had been built by Supermarine.

One problem which immediately surfaced was the poor deck behaviour of this mark, especially on take-off. At full power the slipstream of the propeller, which swung to the left (as opposed to the Merlin, which swung to the right), often forced the Seafire to swing to starboard, even with the rudder hard over on opposite lock. This sometimes led to a collision with the carrier's island. The undercarriage oleo legs were still the same of those of the much lighter Merlin engined Spitfires, meaning that the swing was often accompanied by a series of hops. As an interim measure it was recommended that pilots avoid using full power on take-off (+10 lb "boost" maximum was recommended). There were also problems involved with this swing being strongly accentuated in the event of an asymmetric firing of the RATOG equipment. In the event none of the "first generation" Griffon-engine Seafires were to use RATOG at sea unless they were ranged forward of the first crash barrier on deck. ⎗]

Seafire SX336 F.XVII taxis at the Cotswold Air Show (2010).

Seafire SX336 F.XVII displays at the Cotswold Air Show (2010).

The Seafire F Mk XVII was a modified Mk XV the most important change was the reinforced main undercarriage which used longer oleos and a lower rebound ratio. This went some way towards taming the deck behaviour of the Mk XV, reduced the propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing and the softer oleos stopped the aircraft from occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier. Most production XVIIs had the cut down rear fuselage and teardrop canopy (the windscreen was modified to a rounded section, with narrow quarter windows, rather than the flat windscreen used on Spitfires) and an extra 33 gallon fuel tank fitted in the rear fuselage. The wings were reinforced, with a stronger mainspar necessitated by the new undercarriage, and they were able to carry heavier underwing loads than previous Seafire variants. ⎘] 232 of this variant were built by Westland (212) and Cunliffe-Owen(20). ⎙]

The Seafire F Mk 45 and FR Mk 45 was the next version of the Seafire to be built and the first to use a Griffon 60 series engine with a two-stage, two speed supercharger. The prototype TM379 had been modified from a Spitfire F Mk 21 prototype by Cunliffe-Owen and featured a "sting" arrestor hook. Because this version was considered to be an "interim" type the wing, which was unchanged from that of the Spitfire 21, was non-folding. The fuel capacity of this variant was 120 gal (545 l) distributed in two main forward fuselage tanks: the lower tank carried 48 gal (218 l) while the upper tank carried 36 gal (163 l), plus two fuel tanks built into the leading edges of the wings with capacities of 12.5 (57 l) and 5.5 gal (25 l) respectively. ⎚] The Seafire F Mk 45 entered service with 778 Squadron in November 1946 and a few were modified to FR Mk 45s in March 1947 by being fitted with two F24 cameras in the rear fuselage. Fifty F Mk 45s were built by the Castle Bromwich factory. ⎛]

The Seafire FR Mk 46 and FR Mk 46 was a Spitfire F Mk 22 modified to naval standard and featured the cut down rear fuselage and "teardrop" canopy. Again the wing had not been modified to fold. The electrical equipment was changed from a 12 volt system to 24 volts. The fuel system was modified over that of the Seafire 45 to incorporate an extra 32 gal (145 l) fuel tank in the rear fuselage, while the wings were plumbed to allow for a 22.5 gal (102 l) combat tank to be carried underneath each wing. In addition a 50 gal (227 l) drop tank could be carried under the fuselage. ⎜] In April 1947, a decision was made to replace the Griffon 61s or 64s driving a five bladed Rotol propeller unit with Griffon 85s or 87s driving two three bladed Rotol contra-rotating propellers. All but the first few incorporated larger tail units from the Spiteful and Seafang. These two changes transformed the handling of the aircraft by eliminating the powerful swing to starboard of previous Griffon engined variants. 200 of the Mk 46s were ordered but only 24 were built, all by Supermarine. ⎝]

The final version of the Seafire was the Seafire F Mk 47 and FR Mk 47. There was no true prototype, instead the first production aircraft PS944 and PS945 served as trials aircraft. As the "definitive" carrier based Seafire the Mk 47 incorporated several refinements over earlier variants. After the first four aircraft, with manually folded wings, the Mk 47 incorporated hydraulically powered wing folding, the outer wings folding upwards in one piece, without the folding wingtips of earlier marks. All Mk 47s adopted the Rotol contra-rotating propellers. The Mk 47 also featured a long supercharger air-duct, the intake of which started just behind the spinner and a modified curved windscreen, similar to that used on the Mk XVII. Other features unique to the Mk 47s were spring-loaded elevator tabs, a large inertia weight in the elevator control system and beading on the trailing edges of the elevators. These changes improved longitudinal stability, especially when the aircraft was fully loaded. The modified windscreen proved to be unpopular with pilots because of continual problems with misting and the thicker, repositioned frames obstructed visibility during deck landings. In spite of recommendations to change the windscreen back to a standard Spitfire 24 unit, this was never done. Performance tests showed that the Mk 47 was slightly slower than the Mk 46 in maximum and climbing speeds, mainly due to the long supercharger air intake, which was less efficient than the shorter type fitted to earlier Seafires. The Seafire 47 saw action with 800 Squadron on board HMS Triumph during the Malayan Emergency of 1949 and during the Korean War in 1950. However, in 1951 all Seafires were withdrawn from front-line service. ⎞] In all 90 F Mk 47s and FR Mk 47s were built, all by Supermarine. The last aircraft of the 22,000 of the entire Spitfire/Seafire lineage VR971 left the production line at Supermarine on 28 January 1949.

Assessment [ edit | edit source ]

The Spitfire's original role, and the one at which it proved to be a formidable aircraft, was that of short-range land-based interceptor. As a carrier based fighter the design was a compromise and suffered many losses through structural damage caused by heavy landings on carrier decks: this problem continued even with the stiffening introduced by the Mk II. The Seafire had a narrow undercarriage track, which meant that it was not well suited to deck operations. The many modifications had shifted the centre-of-gravity aft, making low-speed control difficult and the aircraft's gradual stall characteristics meant that it was difficult to land accurately on the carrier, resulting in many accidents. Other problems included the basic Spitfire's short range and endurance (fine for an interceptor fighter but not for carrier operation), limited weapons load and that it was dangerous in ditching. [nb 3] The first Seafire variant to overcome many of these problems was the Mk XVII with its new undercarriage design, reinforced structure and extra fuel tanks, although there were still some compromises and it entered service well after the war was over.

The low point of Seafire operations came during Operation Avalanche the invasion of Salerno in September 1943. Of the 106 Seafires available to the British escort carriers on 9 September only 39 were serviceable by the dawn of D-Day plus Two (11 September). Part of this was attributed to flat, calm conditions meaning that there was not enough headwind to stop the "Spitfire float" on landing: many Seafires missed picking up the arrestor wires and flew into the crash barriers while others had their arrestor hooks pulled off the fuselage because they caught the wires at too high a speed. ⎟] In spite of these problems the Seafires (especially the L Mk IIs and L Mk IIIs, with their low altitude rated Merlin engines) were given the role of low to medium altitude interceptor, acting as a CAP protecting the immediate vicinity of the carrier fleet from low altitude attackers, while the longer ranging fighters, such as the Hellcats, took on a similar role further out and at higher altitudes.


History

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. Many variants of the Spitfire were built, using several wing configurations, and it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.

The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928. Mitchell pushed the Spitfire’s distinctive elliptical wing with cutting-edge sunken rivets (designed by Beverley Shenstone) to have the thinnest possible cross-section, helping give the aircraft a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith took over as chief designer, overseeing the Spitfire’s development throughout its multitude of variants.

During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the public perceived the Spitfire to be the main RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against Nazi Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe. However, Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of the Spitfire’s higher performance. During the battle, Spitfires were generally tasked with engaging Luftwaffe fighters—mainly Messerschmitt Bf 109E-series aircraft, which were a close match for them.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific, and South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s. The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire that served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp (768 kW), it was strong enough and adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlins and, in later marks, Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,340 hp (1,745 kW). As a result, the Spitfire’s performance and capabilities improved over the course of its service life.


Westland Seafire XV11-SX336 G-KASX

The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers.

The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the longer name Sea Spitfire.

The Admiralty first showed an interest in the idea of a carrier-borne Spitfire in May 1938 when during a meeting with Richard Fairey of Fairey Aviation the proposal was made that his company could design and build such an aircraft.

The idea met with a negative response and the matter was dropped. As a result the FAA was forced into having to order Blackburn Rocs and Gloster Sea Gladiators both of which proved to be woefully inadequate.[1]

The matter of a seaborne Spitfire was raised again in November 1939 when the Air Ministry allowed a Commander Ermen to fly a Spitfire I.

After his first flight in R6718 Ermen learned that Joseph Smith, Chief Designer at Supermarine had been instructed to fit an "A-frame" arrestor hook on a Spitfire and that this had flown on 16 October a drawing of this aircraft had been shown to the Fleet Air Arm on 27 October.[2]

After further discussions Supermarine submitted a drawing of a Spitfire with folding wings and an arrestor hook. In this case the wings were designed with a fold just outboard of the undercarriage bays the outer wings would swivel and fold backwards, parallel with the fuselage.

On 29 February 1940 the Admiralty asked the Air Ministry to sanction the production of 50 folding wing Spitfires, with the first deliveries to start in July.

However, for various reasons Winston Churchill who was First Lord of the Admiralty stepped in and cancelled the order, writing to Lord Beaverbrook[3]:

I regard it as of very great importance that the production of Fulmars should be kept going.[4]

It would take over 18 months before the first Seafires were built.

In late 1941 and early 1942, the Admiralty assessed the Spitfire for possible conversion. In late 1941 48 Spitfire Mk. Vb were converted by Air Training Service Ltd. at Hamble to become "hooked Spitfires".

This was the Seafire Mk. Ib and would be the first of several Seafire variants to reach the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

This version of the Seafire was mainly used to allow the Royal Navy to gain experience in operating the Spitfire on aircraft carriers.

The main structural change was made to the lower rear fuselage which incorporated an A-frame style arrestor hook and strengthened lower longerons.

It was soon discovered that the fuselage, especially around hatches, was too weak for sustained carrier operations.

In an attempt to alleviate this condition, reinforcing strips were riveted around hatch openings and along the main fuselage longerons.

A further 118 Seafire Mk. Ib's incorporating the fuselage reinforcements were modified from Spitfire Vbs by Cunliffe-Owen at Eastleigh and Air Training Service.

These aircraft were equipped with Naval HF radio equipment and IFF equipment as well as a Type 72 homing beacon.

In these and all subsequent Seafires the instruments were re-calibrated to read kn and nmi rather than mph and mi.

The fixed armament was the same as that of the Spitfire Vb two 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon with 60 rpg fed from a "drum" magazine, and four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns with 350 rpg.

Provision was also made to carry a 30 gal (136 l) "slipper" fuel tank under the fuselage.

One front line unit, 801 Squadron operated this version on board HMS Furious from October 1942 through to September 1944.

The second semi-navalised variant of the Seafire, and the first to be built as such, was the Seafire F. Mk IIc which was based on the Spitfire Vc.

The Vc had several major refinements over the Spitfire Vb.

Apart from the modifications included in the main batch of Seafire Ibs this version incorporated catapult spools,and a single slinging lug on either side of the fuselage, just behind the engine bulkhead.

Three basic subtypes were produced, the F Mk. IIc and F.R Mk IIc (fighter reconnaissance), powered by a Merlin 46, and the L. Mk IIc powered by a low altitude Merlin 32 specifically manufactured for naval use

This version of the Merlin used a "cropped" supercharger impellor to provide greater power at low altitudes than the standard engines delivering 1,585 hp (1,182 kW) at 2,750 ft (838 m).

Both engine models drove a four bladed 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter Rotol propeller.

Because this version used the "C" wing the Hispano cannon were now fed from a 120-round belt magazine, otherwise the armament was the same as that of the Ib the F.R also carried two F.24 aerial cameras.

After trials of Rocket Assisted Take Off Gear or RATOG apparatus (small rocket engines which could be attached to the fuselage or wings of aircraft to help shorten the take-off run) in February 1943, this equipment became a standard fitting available for all Seafires.

The IIc was the first of the Seafires to be deployed operationally in large numbers, with Supermarine building 262 and 110 being built by Westland[5], who also built 30 Seafire Mk III (Hybrid) (Mk IIIs without folding wings).[6]

Although developed for aircraft carrier use, this version still lacked the folding wings needed to allow them to be used on board some Royal Navy carriers, some of which had small aircraft elevators unable to accommodate the full wingspan of the Seafires.

The Seafire F. Mk. III was the first true carrier adaptation of the Spitfire design.

It was developed from the Seafire Mk. IIC, but incorporated manually folding wings allowing more of these aircraft to be spotted on deck or in the hangers below. Supermarine devised a system of two straight chordwise folds a break was introduced immediately outboard of the wheel-wells from which the wing hinged upwards and slightly angled towards the fuselage.

A second hinge at each wingtip join allowed the tips to fold down (when the wings were folded the wingtips were folded outwards).

This version used the more powerful Merlin 55 (F. Mk. III and F.R. Mk III) or Merlin 55M (L. Mk. III), driving the same four-bladed propeller unit used by the IIC series the Merlin 55M was another version of the Merlin modified to give maximum performance at low altitude.

Other modifications that were made on the Spitfire made their way to the Seafire as well including a slim Aero-Vee air filter and six-stack ejector type exhausts.

In addition the shorter barreled, lightweight Hispano Mk V cannon were introduced during production as were overload fuel tank fittings in the wings[7][8]

This Mark was built in larger numbers than any other Seafire variant of the 1,220 manufactured Westland built 870 and Cunliffe Owen 350

. In 1947 12 Mk IIIs were stripped of their naval equipment by Supermarine and delivered to the Irish Air Corps.[9][10]

After the Mk III series the next Seafire variant to appear was the Seafire F. Mk XV, which was powered by a Griffon VI (single-stage supercharger, rated at 1,850 hp (1,379 kW) at 2,000 ft (610 ft) driving a 10 ft 5 in Rotol propeller.

Designed in response to Specification N.4/43 this appeared to be a navalised Spitfire F. Mk XII in reality the Mk XV was an amalgamation of a strengthened Seafire III airframe and wings with the wing fuel tanks, retractable tailwheel, larger elevators and broad-chord "pointed" rudder of the Spitfire VIII.

In addition, the engine cowling was different to that of the Spitfire XII series, being secured with a larger number of fasteners and lacking the acorn shaped blister behind the spinner.

The final 30 Mk XVs were built with the blown "teardrop" cockpit canopy and cut down rear fuselage introduced on the Spitfire Mk XVI.

On the first 50 aircraft manufactured by Cunliffe-Owen a heavier, strengthened A-frame arrestor hook was fitted to cope with the greater weight,[11]

On subsequent Mk XVs a new form of "sting" type arrestor hook was used this version was attached to the reinforced rudder post at the rear of the fuselage and was housed in a fairing below the base of the shortened rudder.

A vee-shaped guard forward of the tailwheel prevented arrestor wires getting tangled up with the tailwheel.

390 Seafire XVs were built by Cunliffe-Owen and Westland from late 1944.

Six prototypes had been built by Supermarine.

One problem which immediately surfaced was the poor deck behaviour of this mark, especially on take-off.

At full power the slipstream of the propeller, which swung to the left (as opposed to the Merlin, which swung to the right), often forced the Spitfire to swing to starboard, even with the rudder hard over on opposite lock.

This sometimes led to a collision with the carrier's island.

The undercarriage oleo legs were still the same of those of the much lighter Merlin engined Spitfires, meaning that the swing was often accompanied by a series of hops.

As an interim measure it was recommended that pilots avoid using full power on take-off (+10 lb "boost" maximum was recommended).

There were also problems involved with this swing being strongly accentuated in the event of an asymmetric firing of the RATOG equipment. In the event none of the "first generation" Griffon-engine Seafires were to use RATOG at sea unless they were ranged forward of the first crash barrier on deck.[12]

The Seafire F Mk. XVII was essentially a modified Mk XV the most important change was the reinforced main undercarriage which used longer oleos and a lower rebound ratio.

This went some way towards taming the deck behaviour of the Mk XV, reduced the propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing, and the softer oleos stopped the aircraft from occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier.

Most production XVIIs had the cut down rear fuselage and teardrop canopy (the windscreen was modified to a rounded section, with narrow quarter windows, rather than the flat windscreen used on Spitfires) and an extra 33 gallon fuel tank fitted in the rear fuselage.

In addition the wings were reinforced, with a stronger mainspar necessitated by the new undercarriage, and they were able to carry heavier underwing loads than previous Seafire variants.[13] 232 of this variant were built by Westland (212) and Cunliffe-Owen(20).[14]

The Seafire F. and F.R Mk. 45 was the next version of the Seafire to be built, and the first to use a Griffon 60 series engine with a two-stage, two speed supercharger.

The prototype TM379 had been modified from a Spitfire F. Mk 21 prototype by Cunliffe-Owen and featured a "sting" type arrestor hook. Because this version was considered to be an "interim" type the wing, which was unchanged from that of the Spitfire 21, was non-folding.

The Seafire F. Mk 45 entered service with 778 Squadronin November 1946 and a few were modified to F. R Mk 45s in March 1947 by being fitted with two F.24 cameras in the rear fuselage. Fifty F. Mk 45s were built by the Castle Bromwich factory.[15]

The Seafire F. and F.R Mk. 46 was a Spitfire F. Mk 22 modified to naval standard and featured the cut down rear fuselage and "teardrop" canopy. Again the wing had not been modified to fold.

The electrical equipment was changed from using a 12 volt system to one using 24 volts. In April 1947, a decision was made to replace the Griffon 61s or 64s driving a five bladed Rotol propeller unit with Griffon 85s or 87s driving two three bladed Rotol contra-rotating propellers.

In addition, all but the first few incorporated larger tail units from the Spiteful and Seafang.

These two changes completely transformed the handling characteristics of the aircraft by eliminating the powerful swing to starboard of previous Griffon engined variants. 200 of the Mk 46s were ordered but only 24 were built, all by Supermarine.[16]

The final version of the Seafire was the Seafire F. and F.R Mk. 47. There was no true prototype, instead the first production aircraft PS944 and PS945 served as trials aircraft. As the "definitive" carrier based Seafire the Mk 47 incorporated several refinements over earlier variants.

After the first four aircraft, with manually folded wings, the Mk 47 incorporated hydraulically powered wing folding, the outer wings folding upwards in one piece, without the folding wingtips of earlier marks.

All Mk 47s adopted the Rotol contra-rotating propellers as standard.

The Mk 47 also featured a long supercharger air-duct, the intake of which started just behind the spinner, and a modified curved windscreen, similar to that used on the Mk XVII.

Other features unique to the Mk 47s were the modified horizontal tail units, which used spring-loaded elevator tabs, a large inertia weight in the elevator control system and beading on the trailing edges of the elevators.

These changes improved longitudinal stability, especially when the aircraft was fully loaded.

The modified windscreen proved to be unpopular with pilots because of continual problems with misting, and the thicker, repositioned frames obstructed visibility during deck landings. In spite of recommendations to change the windscreen back to a standard Spitfire 24 unit, this was never done.

Performance tests showed that the Mk 47 was slightly slower than the Mk 46 in maximum and climbing speeds, mainly due to the long supercharger air intake, which was less efficient than the shorter type fitted to earlier Seafires.

The Seafire 47 saw action with 800 Squadron on board HMS Triumph during the Malayan Emergency of 1949 and during the Korean War in 1950.

However, in 1951 all Seafires were withdrawn from front-line service.[17] In all 90 F. and F.R Mk 47s were built, all by Supermarine. The last aircraft of the 22,000 of the entire Spitfire/Seafire lineage VR971 left the production line at Supermarine on 28 January 1949.

The Spitfire's original role, and the one at which it proved to be a formidable aircraft was that of short-range land-based interceptor.

As a carrier based fighter the design was a compromise and, once in service, suffered from a high attrition rate through structural damage caused by heavy landings on carrier decks: this problem continued even with the stiffening introduced by the Mk II. Also, the Seafire had a narrow undercarriage track, which meant that it was not well suited to deck operations.

The many modifications had shifted the centre-of-gravity aft, making low-speed control difficult, and the aircraft's gradual stall characteristics meant that it was difficult to land accurately on the carrier, resulting in a very high accident rate.

Other problems included the basic Spitfire's short range and endurance (fine for an interceptor fighter, but not for carrier operation), limited weapons load and that it was dangerous in ditching[18].

The first Seafire variant to overcome many of these problems was the Mk XVII with its new undercarriage design, reinforced structure and extra fuel tanks, although there were still some compromises, and it entered service well after the war was over.

The low point of Seafire operations came during Operation Avalanche the invasion of Salerno in September 1943.

Of the 106 Seafires available to the British escort carriers on 9 September only 39 of these were serviceable by the dawn of D-Day plus Two (11 September).

Part of this was attributed to flat, calm conditions meaning that there was not enough headwind to stop the "Spitfire float" on landing: many Seafires missed picking up the arrestor wires and flew into the crash barriers while others had their arrestor hooks pulled off the fuselage because they caught the wires at too high a speed.[19]

In spite of these problems the Seafire, especially the L. Mk II and III with their low altitude rated Merlin engines found a role as a low to medium altitude interceptor able to protect the RAN carrier fleet.

Compared with other naval fighters, the Seafire II was able to outperform the A6M5 (Zero) at low altitudes when the two types were tested against each other in World War II.

Contemporary Allied carrier aircraft which were designed from the ground up as naval fighters, such as the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair, however, were considerably more robust and generally more powerful.

The more powerful Seafire III, though, still enjoyed better climb rates and acceleration than these other fighters.

Late-war Seafire marks equipped with the Griffon engines enjoyed a considerable increase of performance compared to their Merlin-engined predecessors. However the Griffon powered Seafires had some serious faults.

The main problem was a result of the increased power yielded by the Griffon engine the increase in torque meant the pilot had to continuously correct the flight of the aircraft (to prevent the frame of the aircraft rotating in the other direction to that of the propeller).

This was huge problem when attempting to take off and land from an aircraft carrier.

The torque also affected the lift of the right wing (the Griffon engines rotated anti-clockwise) which would lose lift and even stall at reasonable speeds.

The increased weight of the engine meant that the take-off had to be longer and proved very dangerous from most British carriers.

The increased weight of the engine further affected the centre of gravity that Mitchell had concentrated on so carefully in the original Spitfire. As a result the handling of the aircraft suffered. Eventually most of these problems were fixed in Seafire 47 when the 6 bladed contra-rotating propeller was adapted.

The first use of Seafires in sustained carrier operations was Operation Torch.

Seafires saw most service in the Far East Pacific campaigns, serving with No. 887 and 894 Squadrons, Fleet Air Arm, aboard HMS Indefatigable and joining the British Pacific Fleet late in 1944.

Due to their good high altitude performance and lack of ordnance-carrying capabilities (compared to the Hellcats and Corsairs of the Fleet) the Seafires were allocated the vital defensive duties of Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over the fleet.

Seafires were thus heavily involved in countering the kamikaze attacks during the Iwo Jima landings and beyond.

The Seafires' best day was 15 August 1945, shooting down eight attacking aircraft for a single loss.

During the campaign 887 NAS claimed 12 kills, and 894 NAS claimed 10 kills (with two more claims earlier in 1944 over Norway).

The top scoring Seafire pilot of the war was Sub-Lieutenant R.H. Reynolds DSC of 894, who claimed 4.5 air victories in 1944–5.

Post war, the Fleet Air Arm replaced its Merlin powered Seafires with Griffon powered aircraft, initially with the Seafire Mk XV and Mk 17, and from 1948, by the definitive Seafire Mk 47.[20

] In 1950, Triumph started a tour of the Far East, embarking 800 Naval Air Squadron with Seafire 47s along with 827 Naval Air Squadron equipped with Fairey Fireflys.

Following the outbreak of the Korean War, Triumph was diverted to operations to try and stem the North Korean offensive, Seafires flying both ground attack and combat air patrol missions from July until September 1950, when Triumph was replaced on station by HMS Theseus, equipped with Sea Furys.

During operations off Korea, Seafires flew 360 operational sorties, losing one aircraft shot down by friendly fire from a B-29 Superfortress and a second aircraft lost when its arrestor hook failed to extend.

The Seafire, however, proved more vulnerable to the stresses of carrier operation with many aircraft suffering wrinkling of the rear fuselage brought about by heavy landings. Following the end of operations, when peacetime airworthiness rules were re-imposed, all but three of 800 Squadron's Seafires were declared unserviciable owing to wrinkling.[21]

The Royal Canadian Navy and French Aviation navale also obtained Seafires to operate from ex Royal Navy aircraft carriers following the end of World War II. Canada's Seafire Mk XVs were flown from HMCS Magnificent and HMS Warrior before being replaced by Sea Furies in 1948.[22]

France received 65 Seafire Mk IIIs, 24 of these being deployed on the carrier Arromanches in 1948 when it sailed for Vietnam to fight in the

First Indochina War, the Seafires operating both from land bases and from Arromanches on ground attack missions against the Viet Minh before being withdrawn from combat operations in January 1949.

After returning to European waters, the Seafire units were re-equipped with Seafire XVs, but these were quickly replaced by F6F Hellcats from 1950.[22]

The Irish Air Corps operated Seafires for a time after the war, despite having no naval air service nor aircraft carriers.

The aircraft were operated from Baldonnel (Casement Aerodrome) much in the same way as normal Spitfires, but retaining the folding wings.

An attempt to recycle the Merlin engines was made in the 1950s, by replacing the ailing Bedford engine in a Churchill tank with an engine from a scrapped Seafire.

The project collapsed from lack of funds.

In the Fleet Air Arm, both Spitfires and Seafires were used by a number of squadrons, the Spitfires used by training and land based squadrons.

Eleven operational squadrons (800 series) used Spitfires and Seafires (Numbers 801 NAS, 808 NAS, 809 NAS, 879 NAS, 880 NAS, 884 NAS, 885 NAS, 886 NAS, 887 NAS, 897 NAS and 899 NAS)