10 Spitfire Facts

Here are ten facts about Spitfires.

  • The Spitfire was the most famous fighter aircraft of World War II. It was the only British fighter plane to be in continuous production throughout the war.
  • RJ Mitchell, an engineer at Supermarine Aviation, designed the Spitfire originally to be a high performance, short range plane. The first planes were mass produced in 1938.

  • The name Spitfire was taken from an old English word meaning someone of strong or fiery character. The names Snipe and Shrew were also considered for the plane.
  • The plane weighed almost 2,400 kilograms and had a top speed of 582 kph, although could dive at faster speeds. It was able to climb to a height of almost 7,000 metres in just over 9 minutes.


  • Just over 20,000 Spitfires were built in total. The plane remained in production and active service until 1955.
  • Some of the planes had modifications made to their under the wing mountings. Instead of carrying bombs, the planes could carry two small barrels of beer.The Spitfire played an important role in the Battle of Britain in 1940, in which Germany sought to dominate the air. The Allies won, despite having only 700 aircraft against the 2,000 German planes.
  • Many German pilots actually believed the Spitfire was better than their own planes. One German pilot even asked his commanding officer for a squadron of Spitfires.
  • The Spitfire has featured in many war films, including Battle of BritainMalta Story and Reach for the Sky. Today, there are almost 50 Spitfires left around the world which can still be flown.
  • The Spitfires used in the film Battle of Britain were almost invisible to the camera, as they were so well camouflaged. They had to be filmed against clouds so that they could be seen.

What next? Learn more about World War 2 by visiting our World War 2 resources page.