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Designed in the early 1930s by R.J. Mitchell, the Supermarine Spitfire entered service with the Royal Air Force during 1938. Despite being the first fighter to shoot down a German Bf-109, it saw limited action during the Battle of Dunkirk (As the Hawker Hurricane was the primary British fighter during that time).
 
Though in the summer of 1940, the Spitfire saw major combat during the Battle of Britain as German bomber and fighter planes swarmed the English skies. Although the Hawker Hurricane shot down most of the German aircraft during the Battle, the RAF saw the fighter's potential and production of the Spitfire increased and more squadrons began using the aircraft.
 
The Spitfire saw extensive use in North Africa and the Mediterranean campaign but did not see much combat during the Normandy Invasion due to its short range. Instead the fighter was relegated to taking down V-1 'Buzz Bombs' flying over British skies, where it proved to be very effective.
 
After the war, the Spitfire was replaced by fighter aircraft powered by jet engines, such as the de Havilland Vampire. Despite that, many Air Forces continued to operate the Spitfire and the last ones to use it was Israel and Egypt in 1948. 

Performance

The Spitfire proved to be one of the most maneuverable fighter aircraft during World War II thanks to its elliptical wing. The aircraft was somewhat more faster than the Hawker Hurricane though the armament of early versions of the Hurricane and the Spitfire were very similar.
 
The Spitfire was initially armed with eight wing mounted .30 caliber machine guns, but as the War progressed and the armor began to be a bit more thick, latter versions of the aircraft had a mix of .30 cal, .50 cal and 20mm guns and could also carry up to 500lbs of bombs.
 
One of the greatest weaknesses the Spitfire had was its short range, which meant it wasn't suitable for escort missions. The P-51 Mustang ultimately took this role but nevertheless, the Spitfire, with its graceful lines and elliptical wings, will remain as one of the greatest fighters ever made.

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