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 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?