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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The original wing structure of Supermarine Type 300 Spitfire Mk. I, later referred to as the Type A wing.
Click to enlarge image
[Crown Copyright]

No discussion about the various Spitfire marks can be complete without referring to the different wing types. An overview of the basic wing types of the Spitfire and the differences between them.

The Merlin-powered Spitfires used four different wing types, A through to D which had the same dimensions and plan but different internal arrangements of armament and fuel tanks. After introducing the Griffon, Supermarine recognized the need for a completely revised laminar-flow wing to facilitate even higher speeds made possible by this powerful engine. Starting with production Spitfire Mk 21, this wing became standard for post-war variants of this famous fighter.

The majority of the day fighter Spitfires from the Mk I through Mk XVIII used four basic wing types, A, B, C and E.

A type

The original wing design, the basic structure of which was unchanged until the arrival of C type wing in 1942. The only armament able to be carried was eight .303-calibre Browning machine guns with 300 rounds per gun.

The one major alteration made to this wing soon after production started was the incorporation of heating for the gun bays to prevent the guns from freezing at altitude. Open structures around the gun bays were blocked off and ducting, drawing hot air from the back of the radiators, was added to the wings. The heated air was exhausted through underwing vents, covered by streamlined triangular blisters, just inboard of the wingtips.

Towards the end of 1940 the fabric covered ailerons were replaced by ones covered in light-alloy.

General arrangement of the Type A wing
[Crown Copyright]

B type

This was the A type wing modified to carry a 20mm Hispano cannon. One type of armament could be fitted, comprising two 20 mm-calibre Hispano Mk II cannon, fed from drum magazines with the capacity of 60 rounds/gun, and four .303 Browning machine guns with 350 rounds per gun.

The retractable underwing landing lamp was repositioned and the innermost machine gun bays were replaced with a single cannon bay, plus a compartment for the drum magazine outboard of the wheel well.

The upper and lower wing skins incorporated blisters to clear the ammunition drum. Under the wings there were two possible blister shapes.

The alloy covered ailerons were standardised on this wing type.

General arrangement of the Type B wing
[Martin Waligorski]

Internal structure of the Type B wing of the Spitfire Mk. Vb.
Click to enlarge image
[Crown Copyright]

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24 Comments | Add New

By Brian Fairey  |  2011-06-01 at 16:01  |  permalink

What was the name of the Canadian who is supposed to have designed the wing?

By Editor  |  2011-06-02 at 08:09  |  permalink

I believe you refer to Mr. Beverly Shenstone, a Canadian aerodynamicist who worked in Mitchell’s team. It is debatable whether he “did” the wing design, but he surely contributed to it.

By Damien  |  2011-08-13 at 22:39  |  permalink

Mrs Beverly Shenstone. And Mitchell drew the shape freehand. He is supposed to have said , ‘I don’t care what shape it is so long as it fits the bloody guns.’

By Editor  |  2011-08-15 at 07:03  |  permalink

@Damien, Thanks for your comment, but I believe that this was Mr Shenstone. See here

By tony smith  |  2012-01-28 at 02:35  |  permalink

hello once again;lets try once more…my query concerns the clipped wing version-where the wing tip was removed,was there a small or large gap between the aileron and the ‘cut’?
i have obtained an r/c mk 11 spit from hanger nine,which i feel is of very good scale and am
intending to ‘lop off’ the tips of the wings to really make it stand out from the crowd!
not sure of the mark or varient but this wing came with x2 x50 cal brownings and x2
20 mm hispano’s.
can you fill in these gaps of my knowledge?

tony smith
p.s. thanks for the assist with the site.

By James  |  2012-01-29 at 11:52  |  permalink

Tony from what I’ve seen, the clipped tips still had a clipped tip end fairing, which closed off close to the aileron outbord tip. So no difference in that gap with rounded or clipped tips. W.r.t the Mk IX, wing armament of 2X20mm cannon and 2X .5 Brownings was for the “e” wing as I recall. Some good info on wing types/armament is available on this web site.

By Mark  |  2012-03-24 at 16:35  |  permalink

Does anyone know where I can find information on the control surfaces of a Spitfire? As I am doing a project, but have not had any luck finding any information.
Will be greatful for any help you can give.


Reply to Paul