DSC06603

Spitfire Site

About the only visible evidence of the wing tankage are the filler caps located in the extreme outer wing leading edge, and the small ...

DSC06603

About the only visible evidence of the wing tankage are the filler caps located in the extreme outer wing leading edge, and the small air vent tube shown here.

One of the Spitifre’s unique and advanced features was that the entire leading edge of the wing down to the spar line (indicated here by the red line) had been forged from a single piece of metal. Together with the wing spar, the leading edge forging produced a torsion box which greatly contributed to the immense strength of the Spitfire wing.

A possibility of using this construction as a basis for wing fuel tanks was not immediately realised. Only the development of the early photo-reconnaissance PR Spitfires which invariably where a bit “short legged” led to the idea. Starting with the Spitfire PR Mk. IV, the space between the spar and the wing’s leading edge was simply sealed off, producing an efficient “bowser wing”.

The bowser wing brought a formidable increase of the PR Spitfire’s operational range and enabled this relatively small aircraft to range freely over German territory all the way to Berlin and beyond.

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