Although the Supermarine Spitfire was proving a major success in operational service, thanks to the type having great potential for development, the time had now arrived where the aircraft
had been stretched to its limits design wise. As a result Supermarine produced a specially written Specification 470, which requested a Spitfire fitted with a laminar flow wing. It was
hoped an increase in top speed by 55 mph could be achieved.
So on the 30th June 1944, with Jeffrey Quill at the controls, a Spitfire Mk XIV with a laminar flow wing flew for the first time. During testing it became clear that the new wing would not
provide the increase in performance, which was both wanted and expected. Disaster then struck as the prototype crashed killing the pilot Frank Furlong on the 13th September 1944.
By now the Air Ministry had issued Specification F.1/43 to find the Spitfires successor, to which Supermarine submitted their Spiteful design. Featuring a brand new airframe, laminar
flow wing, wide track-inward retracting landing gear, although the tail surfaces were almost identical to the Spitfire, and Rolls-Royce Griffon engines allowed the Spiteful to reach speeds
of 475 mph. It would be on the 8th January 1945 when the first 'true' Supermarine Spiteful prototype would fly, and despite numerous modifications the trial flights confirmed two things.
One, the laminar flow wing performed as expected and two, the performance of the Spiteful over the Spitfire was not as significant as hoped.
In total four different Spiteful Mks were expected to be produced. The Mk F.14 powered by a Griffon 65 engine with a five blade propeller, the Griffon 89 or 90 engined, with two three
blade contra-rotating rotal propellers, Mk F.15. Although this Mk would be converted into a Supermarine Seafang prototype, which was the intended naval version of the Spiteful. And the Mk
F.16, which was similar to the Mk F.14, but powered by a Griffon 101 engine, and thanks to its boost being 25lb it would, on one occasion, achieve a speed of 494 mph.
Despite an initial Spiteful production aircraft flying in June 1945 the days of the type were numbered as by this time the war in Europe was over and jet aircraft were starting to appear.
In fact the Spitefuls wing and undercarriage would be used by Supermarine on their Attacker aircraft, which would go on to be the first front line jet aircraft used by the Fleet Air Arm.
It did look like the type may enter service when sixty seven aircraft were ordered, but this was later cancelled with a Spiteful Mk F.21 ordered as part of a revised contract, although in
the end only seventeen Mk F.14s would actually be built.
Production of the type began in March 1945 and ended twenty two months later on the 17th January 1947. Of the nineteen aircraft built one would provide the basis for the Seafang, three
joined service test establishments, whilst another three were retained for development work by the manufacturer with the other twelve going into storage.
Also see Supermarine Seafang