Aviator Mouse Notes – 2. Spitfires: History and Engineering

Aviator Mouse Notes – 2. Spitfires: History and Engineering
February 13, 2017 Genevieve Hopkins
In Aviator Mouse Notes

Spitfire Illustration - 'The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse'

Illustration of Spitfire Diagram from ‘The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse,’ written by Genevieve Hopkins and illustrated by Alexandra Heazlewood.

NB: Please hover over the photos for more information. Descriptions for Australian War Memorial photos have been provided from the AWM archives and linked to the appropriate AWM web page.

William Brambleberry loved watching planes take off and land at RAF Perranporth air base on the top of Cligga Cliffs in Cornwall, England. Of all the planes, William liked the Spitfires the best. After befriending the Australian fighter pilots of 453 Squadron, he dedicated himself to learning everything he could about Spitfires. Here is some of what he learned:

  • The Supermarine Spitfire was a British designed and built, single seater fighter aircraft, used by Britain and its allies during WWII.
  • R.J Mitchell, chief designer of Supermarine Aviation Works (a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong), designed the Spitfires as short-range, high-performance interceptors.
  • The elliptical wings were a distinguishing feature of the Spitfires: their aerodynamic shape and thinness reduced drag while maintaining strength to allow for a retractable undercarriage, armaments and ammunition.
  • The planes initially flew with powerful and distinctive sounding Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, upgrading to the Roll-Royce Griffon engines in later Marks (versions).
  • Due to their design and powerful engines, Spitfires were able to reach higher top speeds than other British fighter planes such as the Hawker Hurricanes and were well matched with the German Messerschmidt Bf109 fighters.
  • Although the Hawker Hurricanes greatly outnumbered Spitfires during the Battle of Britain, Spitfires superseded the Hurricanes in fame and reputation due to their higher performance and lower attrition rates.
  • The general tactic used by Air Command during the Battle of Britain was to direct Hurricane squadrons to attack German bombers while the Spitfires countered the bombers’ escort fighters.
  • Throughout the war, Spitfires were used as interceptors, fighter-bombers, trainers and for photo-reconnaissance.
  • 453 SQN flew Supermarine Spitfire Marks V, IX and XIV, providing defensive air patrols over Britain and surrounding waters, escort of Allied bombers over Europe, offensive strikes on land and sea, including over-watch for ground troops during the D-Day Normandy landings and throughout Operation Overlord, as well as bombing of German V1 and V2 rockets in the later stages of the War.


Former RAF Perranporth, Cornwall

Photograph of former RAF Perranporth taken by John Fielding and posted in CornwallLive of 13 November 2016.

Spitfire - Side On Flight View

The Commanding Officer, 404795 Squadron Leader Donald George Andrews DFC of Southport, Qld, is first to land in his Spitfire aircraft, code named DB-B, serial no. 878 (AA878), when No. 453 Squadron RAAF, moved to its new location at RAF Station Skaebrae in the Orkneys.

453 SQN Spitfire - Normandy Beach Head, France

Normandy, France. C. 1944-06. Spitfire aircraft of No. 453 Squadron RAAF, painted with black and white stripes, invasion markings, being serviced at a beachhead airstrip, ALG B.11, from which they operate over the Normandy battlefield.

453 SQN Spitfire Mark IX

London, England. 1943-04-21. Spitfire Mark IX aircraft “standing by” on the tarmac at RAF Station Hornchurch. These are a new model of the famous fighter being operated by no. 453 Squadron RAAF.

The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse by Genevieve Hopkins...

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