Concise Guide To Spitfire Wing Types

Spitfire Site

An overview of the basic wing types of the Spitfire and the differences between them. With drawings.
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E type

A new wing was introduced in early 1944 – type E. Structurally unchanged from the C wing, the outer machine gun ports were eliminated. Although the outer machine gun bays were retained, their access doors were devoid of empty shell case ports and shell deflectors.

The inner gun bays allowed for two weapon fits two 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon with 120 rounds/gun in the outer bays and two American .50 calibre M2 Browning machine guns, with 250 rounds per gun in the inner bays. Alternatively, four 20 mm Hispano cannon with 120 rounds per gun could be carried as per original C-wing production standard.

The cannon in the E wing was slightly relocated, positioned further to the rear in its bay. Consequently, the protruding portion of the barrel was shorter and almost entirely enclosed by a new cigar-shaped fairing. Also, the overwing blister was more narrow and a little deeper than the corresponding feature of the C wing.

An interesting curiosity is that several C-wing Spitfires LF Mk. IX of No. 485 (New Zealand) Squadron were converted to carry the Hispanos and .50 Brownings just before D-Day.

The Type C and E wings were structurally identical, differing only in armament installation.
This diagram shows the layout of cannon and .5″ M2 Browning installation in the latter.
[Crown Copyright]

The revised wing

Beginning with the Mk. 21, the Spitfire had a new, restructured wing design. The design work on the new wing started as early as 1942, but it found its way into production only by the very end of the war.

New, larger area ailerons were deemed necessary to increase the agility of the aircraft in the rolling plane. To accommodate them, the wing planform was enlarged with wider chord towards the wingtips, and its internal structure revised to strengthen the wing in torsion and thus increase the useful diving speed and raise the speed limit for aileron reversal. The wingtips were gently squared-off making for a noticeable a departure form the perfect elliptical outline of the original Spitfire wing.

The new wing was armed with four 20 mm Hispano Mk II or V cannon. No other armament configurations were incorporated as the RAF standardised on all-cannon armament for its post-war fighters.

The Hispano Mk. V was lighter, had a higher rate of fire and a shorter barrel, leading to the protruding gun fairings being shortened even more. Also, the cannon and their belt were staggered, and consequently, the inner and outer blisters for feed motors were of different shape.

Other changes included widening the undercarriage by 7.25″ (19.6 cm), with its wells placed correspondingly further away from the centerline. In order to enable larger propellers to be fitted while providing adequate ground clearance, the undercarriage legs were also longer by 4.5″ (11.4 cm). The undercarriage could be also fully enclosed in flight due to the new outer undercarriage covers.

No official designation was ever given to this wing type. It was most often referred to in official letters as the “new wing”.

The new wing introduced on the Spitfire Mk. 21 was only superficially similar to the preceding wing types.
Internally, all aspects of its construction have been revised.
Click to enlarge image
[Crown Copyright]

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24 Comments | Add New

By Paul  |  2013-06-07 at 10:47  |  permalink

“Apart from early Spitfires Mk. IX converted from Mk. Vc airframes, the undercarriage indicator pins were not used on this or any of the later Spitfire marks.” – take a look at this photo of a Mk XIX on this website: The yellow flag on the wing surface looks like an undercarriage indicator pin. I assume no one would retro-fit these devices so what’s the story on the PR wing?

[…] I settet var det to sett vinger av «e» typen,  det vil si den vingekonfigurasjonen som ble introdusert i 1944 med 2 20mm Hispano Mk II automatkanoner og 2 amerikanske .50» M2 Browning maskingevær. Du kan lese mer om de ulike vingekonfigurasjonene på denne siden. […]

By Spitfire Mk IXe Eduard Profipack cat no 8283  |  2014-07-24 at 20:31  |  permalink

[…] feature of the C wing. More about the differences between Spitfire wing types can be found in this fantastic article Spitfire Mk IXe Eduard Profipack cat no […]

By Charlie Bowman  |  2016-01-19 at 11:57  |  permalink

It seems to me that Dihedral angle in Spitfire is so “low” compared to some other warbirds. Could someone help me understanding why? Perhaps is in bennefit of manuverability due to “big size” wings. Clipped wing and enlarged tip wings makes Spitfire a unique kind of aircraft.

By Ken Harrison  |  2018-10-24 at 04:34  |  permalink

I notice on some examples that there is an additional “blister” at the wing root, the port side being larger than the starboard side.
It looks like this was added to allow something?(piping??) pass over the main spar.
I’ve asked at various museums, but no-one seems to know why they are there.
Can anyone offer an explanation?

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