K5054 Spitfire Prototype

Spitfire Site

Supermarine Spitfire prototype K5054 Eastleigh, 5th March 1936 Click to enlarge image Of course, this site wouldn’t do without the colour profile of the ...

Supermarine Spitfire prototype K5054
Eastleigh, 5th March 1936
Click to enlarge image

Of course, this site wouldn’t do without the colour profile of the all-important Spitfire prototype, K5054.

The Spitfire prototype, with the serial number K5054, made its maiden flight from what is now Southampton airport on the 5th March 1936. Its construction began over one year previously, in December 1934.

When the prototype was rolled out at prior to its first flight in March 1936, it had no paint finish except for registration number and RAF roundels. Interestingly, the cowling panels had markedly brighter shade than the rest of the airframe. Also, different grades of aluminium used for fuselage panelling could, depending on the lighting conditions, give it a rather patchy appearance, especially at the cockpit door, radio hatch and the wing fillets.

Also, the undercarriage covers were not yet fitted at this point.

In was in this shape that the prototype made it first flight in the hands of “Mutt” Summers. The aircraft was reported to handle beautifully. This was perhaps just as well, because even before the prototype had completed its official trials the RAF ordered 310 Spitfires.

Top, bottom and front views of the same aircraft. At the time of its first flight, K5054 did not have wheel covers in place. Also, note that many details of the panelling were very different from the subsequent production aircraft.

A few days later, prior to its first official presentation, K5054 received its famous overall light blue finish. Actually, Supermarine used a high gloss but rather short-lived automotive lacquer in an effort to reduce drag prior to high-speed trials.

Many minor modifications and refinements were subsequently made to the Type 300 as suggested by flight trials over the following months. The original ‘diagonal’ horn balance was replaced with a reduced “straight” type, ejector exhausts replaced the flush-fitted stacks, tail wheel was mounted in place of the fixed skid. Different propellers were also fitted.

Eventually, K5054 emerged as the pattern for the production version of the Spitfire Mk. I. At the later stage of its career it was camouflaged in standard RAF scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth over silver lower surfaces.

K5054 met its unfortunate end in a fatal crash on 4 September 1939 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough.

6 Comments | Add New

By SpitStar  |  2012-11-18 at 20:24  |  permalink

Colours are all wrong – it was never aluminium coloured as shown here. Everyone knows that it was primed a greenish hugh over much of the fueselage.

By Wayne R Chester  |  2016-02-24 at 21:58  |  permalink

Do you mean hue as in shade of colour?
It was primed a shade of blue grey over putty filled aluminium panels.
The particular shade of which has been been in debate for many years.

By Harrier boy  |  2016-09-05 at 16:54  |  permalink

K5054 flew for a few weeks with only the non metal surfaces painted in aluminum dope and was not painted in an all over colour scheme until April.

By Wendy Noble  |  2012-11-20 at 07:31  |  permalink

Would appreciate hearing from Martin Waligorski re: 1942:DEFENCE OF MALTA.
There are two errors in the text regarding an incident which occured on May 9, 1942. My eldest brother, Canadian RCAF/RAF Spitfire pilot, P/O Jerrold (Jerry) Alpine Smith (P/O J.A. Smith ~126 Squadron, Malta) landed his Spitfire back on the deck of USS Wasp on May 9, 1942, because his auxiliary fuel tank was out of commission. You have erroneously reported that he “mistakenly released his auxiliary fuel tank.” Also he was a Pilot Officer, not a Sargeant Pilot. I understand that your book may not yet be published and hope there is still time to make the corrections.
For an accurate account I refer you WINGED VICTORY by AVM J.E. “Johnnie” Johnson & W/C P.B. “Laddie” Lucas. You can also find an accurate account of Jerry’s landing in THE SPITFIRE SMITHS: A Unique Story of Brothers in Arms written by Jerry’s brother Squadron Leader R.I.A. (Rod) Smith ~ also 126 Squadron, Malta, who flew as Jerry’s #2 until Jerry was killed in action on August 10, 1942. Rod was a close friend of the authors of Winged Victory.
I will be pleased to give you any information you require. I have his log book and diary entries for the above date. You can contact me in Vancouver at the above email address. Thanks very much. Sincerely, Wendy Noble

By Editor  |  2012-11-20 at 09:59  |  permalink


Than you very much for your comment, I will be delighted to correct my text accordingly. No, the book has not been published, it has rather developed into one of these never-ending projects :).

Once again, thank you for contacting me this way. /Martin

By John Engelsted  |  2013-11-10 at 12:55  |  permalink

Hi Wendy.

Would it be posible to see the logbook (copy/transcrip)?

John Engelsted

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