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When looking at a Spitfire have you ever wondered what model it is? Or where you would find a Coffman Starter Bulge and what models they were fitted on? Look no further – CLICK HERE!
Welcome to our new book about the iconic Supermarine Spitfire
Genuine reader review
I have at home a number of Spitfire books and DVDs, the one I refer to the most is the Spitfire Mark by Mark. The book is so well laid out and contains such a lot of information on all the marks produced through the life of the Spitfire. The colour diagrams of each mark fill the screen of my computer. Mr L from Holyhead

It contains nearly 80,000 words, 200+ illustrations, over 196 pages. This e-book has been a year and a half in the making. The author and illustrator, Steve Lucas, sets out to illustrate every mark of Spitfire and Seafire. Each version is described over two pages with a top and underside illustration at a three quarter angle so that you can see the maximum amount of detail and it is complete with full annotations around the aircraft.

Informative text, full of facts on each mark of Spitfire. From the first flight of the Spitfire Prototype in 1936 to the Seafire FR Mark 47 of 1949. Additional information on different cockpits, wings, armament, camouflage and markings used on the Spitfire throughout the war, and much, much more! This is a unique publication giving you Spitfire facts at your fingertips, and only available from the Spitfire Mark by Mark website.

Sample pages
About the book
Spitfire Book Cover

Above are a few sample pages from the e-book, showing the main body of illustration and text. Highly detailed and informative, with annotations displaying all the main differences between the various Spitfire marks. 122 colour illustrations revealing the top and underside of each mark, by Steve who has a life long interest in aircraft, and the Spitfire in particular.

The eight Seafire marks are represented, as well as the very important, but little known and acknowledged Photographic Reconnaissance variants, that flew on their own to Germany and back. 60 extra informative pages contained within the book, not illustrated in this compilation of images.


Extra information on cockpits, cowlings, tail planes, wings and markings are included along with the Spitfire Family Tree. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Your free illustration to download
Free to keep illustration
Click below to download this image for free

Even if you did not download the e-book you can still have the FREE download. It is one of my illustrations adapted into a scene aboard a carrier. Steve wanted to show how the wings of the Seafire Mark III had to be folded manually to make the Seafire small enough to fit on the deck lifts, and to store below on the smaller aircraft carriers. It is shown in Post WWII Royal Navy camouflage, and the Mark III only wore this scheme for a year before being withdrawn from service in 1948. This picture is exclusive to this site, and not reproduced in the e-book Spitfire and Seafire ‘Mark by Mark’. Keep coming back as new FREE downloads of different Spitfires and Seafires will appear from time to time, or perhaps a new book on a different subject.

A short history of the Spitfire
Example Spitfire Illustration

The Spitfire along with its German counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf109, fought each other throughout the duration of the Second World War. Both aircraft were short range fighters, developed in the mid 1930’s, and both were monoplanes with a low cantilever wing and flush riveted stressed skin of monocoque construction. The Messerschmitt was easier to manufacture than the Spitfire. It had an uncomplicated structure, with less compound curves, so that more could be built in a shorter time. The Spitfire was advanced, but the manufacture of the elliptical wing initially caused a lot of problems, especially for the shadow companies set up to build them in component form.


Both the Messerschmitt Bf109, and the Spitfire prototype aircraft, first flew with V-12 Rolls-Royce engines. The Messerschmitt flew in late May 1935, with a Rolls-Royce Kestrel V, 21.2 litre (1294ci) engine, producing 695hp (518kW). This was fitted due to the new inverted V-12 Junkers Jumo 210 engine, being still under development at the time.

The Spitfire prototype flew nearly a year later on 5th March 1936, fitted with the new Rolls-Royce Merlin C, 990hp (738kW) engine. The German Luftwaffe and the Messerschmitt were tested in the Spanish Civil War (1936-38), and gained valuable experience of air fighting and tactics, supporting General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist cause. The Spitfire and Messerschmitt finally met in battle over the beaches of Dunkirk in June1940, although the British had access to the latest German fighter the month before, with an example that was captured when it landed behind French lines, in November 1939.

The Spitfire Mark Ia and the Messerschmitt Bf109E-3 were of similar performance, and where one gained an advantage in one respect, the other gained an advantage in another. Speed was similar, the Messerschmitt was slightly faster at altitudes up to 14,500ft (4,420m), whereas the Spitfire was faster above 20,000ft (6,096m). By now the Messerschmitt Bf109E-3 had been fitted with the more powerful Daimler Benz 601Aa engine, producing 1,175hp (876kW) at take off. This engine displaced 33.9 litres (2,069ci) and was 25% larger in capacity than the Spitfire Ia’s, 27 litre (1,648ci) Rolls-Royce Merlin, which produced 1,030hp (768kW) at take off.

It is interesting to note that the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine was never enlarged, by boring out the cylinders, or increasing the stroke on the crankshaft, but remained at 27litres (1,648ci) throughout the development of the two speed, single stage X and XX engines, and the two speed, two stage 60/70 and 266 series engines. The Daimler Benz and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines were fitted with superchargers. In the Daimler, it was fitted to the port side of the engine.

It was indirectly driven off the crank, and fed with a fuel injection system. This had the advantage of slightly better fuel consumption, and a system that did not cut out under negative ‘g’ when the aircraft was put into a bunt. With the inverted engine and the side mounted supercharger, a cannon could also be mounted behind the engine. The muzzle could pass under the crankshaft, avoiding the pistons and connecting rods, through the reduction gear, propeller pitch control mechanism and out the centre of the spinner, with no need for interrupter gear.

Machine guns with interrupter gear, were mounted over the top of the engines crankcase. This enabled them to be fired through the propeller arc. The Merlin’s supercharger was mounted behind the engine. It worked directly off the crank, and was fed by a carburetor. Although the carburetor system cut out under negative ‘g’, it had the advantage of mixing the right amount of air to fuel mixture, at a lesser temperature, making it more dense and able to maintain more of the power from the engine.

The Spitfire Mark VIII with its Merlin 61 of 27litres (1,648ci), was the pinnacle of Rolls-Royce Merlin development, and had a top speed of 408mph (656.5k/h). This Spitfire was comparable to the Messerschmitt 109G-6, with its up-rated Daimler Benz 605AM of 44.5litres (2714.5ci), which had a top speed of 386mph (621k/h). This engine was 65% bigger in capacity over the Merlin, and was slower.

The Merlin had reached its maximum potential, and it was decided early on to focus on the Rolls-Royce larger capacity engine, the Griffon of 36.7litres (2,239ci), as it had more possibilities for development. This engine was developed from the Rolls-Royce ‘R’ engines, used in the S6 and S6B Schneider trophy winning seaplanes of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. It was first used in the Spitfire Mark IV in 1942, in a two speed, single stage, supercharged configuration, which was the prototype for the limited production F Mark XII.

When the more numerically produced, two speed, two stage, Spitfire F Mark XIV entered service in 1944, it could fly at a maximum speed of 439mph (706k/h) and was a match for any German fighter. Two weeks before the end of the war in Europe, Messerschmitt introduced the 109K-14. This aircraft, with a two stage supercharged Daimler Benz 605L engine, was capable of over 450mph (724k/h). The British had just introduced the Spitfire Mark 21 into squadron service, that matched the new Messerschmitt for speed.


The Messerschmitt 109E-3, through its experiences in the Spanish Civil War, had a more advanced and effective armament. It was fitted with two MG17 7.9mm machine guns, with 1000 rounds per gun, on the top of the fuselage, and one 20mm Oerliken cannon, with 60 rounds per gun, in a drum in each of the wings. Either cannon’s and machine guns could be selected, or both fired at the same time. Although the 20mm Oerliken cannon’s fired at a slower rate, they were very effective, and caused a lot of damage when they hit any enemy aircraft.

The Spitfire was initially equipped with four Browning .303” (7.7mm) machine guns, with 350 rounds per gun in each wing. These were less effective on aircraft, with increased amounts of armour surrounding vulnerable areas, and would later be replaced with one 20mm Hispano cannon, with 60 rounds per gun, in a drum, and two .303” Browning machine guns, with 350 rounds per gun, in each wing.

The German’s continued to load their fighters down with extra weapons. Field conversion sets (Rustsatze), were introduced to convert the aircraft into different roles, from a fighter bomber with bomb racks under the fuselage, to an aircraft equipped with extra barbettes under the wings, containing heavy calibre cannons. The Spitfire F Mark 21 introduced a total of four 20mm cannon’s with the introduction of the redesigned and stronger wing in 1945, and this was carried on to the F Mark 24 and the Seafire FR47.


In 1941, after the Battle of Britain, missions were started by the RAF to try to engage the German Luftwaffe in the air over France. Fighters were used on their own, to stimulate some action on the part of the Germans, and entice them up to dogfight over France and the Low Countries. Reactions at first were slow, and fighters on their own did not produce the expected results.

The British then saw the problems the Germans had encountered during the Battle of Britain, if the defending aircraft did not want to come up and fight there was nothing the attacking force could do, and it was a waste of Allied resources and manpower. Bombers escorted by fighters, were used to force the Germans into the air, to defend their aerodromes and infrastructure from damage. Another lesson learnt by the German’s during the Battle of Britain, was any aircraft that was shot down over enemy territory, meant the pilot would be either dead or captured. This came to haunt the British, as many experienced pilots were lost over France. In mid 1941, the relatively new Spitfire Mark V was completely outclassed by a new German fighter that appeared by surprise over France. Stories came back with the Spitfire and Hurricane, pilots about an impressive radial engine fighter, capable of out performing the Spitfire in everything, but turning circle.

Everything was done to gain information on the new German aircraft, there was even a plan about a commando raid on a coastal German airbase to steal one. As the Spitfire Mark V was 20-35mph (32- 56k/h) slower at various altitudes to the new German fighter, later known as the Focke-Wulf Fw190, all the British could do was to minimise losses. This was achieved by flying at full throttle at the Spitfires optimum altitude, in areas of most danger.

The RAF were aware that the present Spitfire Mark V was going to be outclassed eventually, and plans had be set in place to design a faster Spitfire. The next Spitfire, the HF Mark VI, with the single stage, supercharger, and also the Spitfire F Mark VII with the Merlin 60 series, two stage, supercharged engine, were being developed as a high altitude fighters. The F Mark VIII was based on the F Mark VII, but was delayed due to a complete redesign and strengthening of internal structures, of the wing and fuselage.

The Spitfire F Mark XII was being developed with the Griffon engine, but it was still going to be Autumn 1942 before it would be introduced into service. The interim Spitfire F Mark IX, with the Merlin two speed, two stage 61 engine, was introduced in mid 1942. The F Mark IX was a converted re-engined Spitfire Mark V, without the extra internal strengthening of the later Mark VII or VIII. This makeshift variant was to become the most numerous mark of Spitfire produced, and equipped the majority of RAF squadrons in Britain.

The fully developed and stronger Spitfire F Mark VIII, when it was produced, was sent abroad to the Middle and Far East. This reversed the situation in previous years, when the aircraft sent to other theatres, were usually obsolete types that could be spared, as they were outclassed by the Luftwaffe aircraft over the channel front.


Along with all piston engined fighters, the jet age was to finally overtake the Spitfire. Although temperamental and not fully developed, they were seen as the future of aviation. Both sides had built faster and more lethal piston engined fighters, but with more speed and up-rated armament, came the penalty of more weight with less manoeuvrability.

The Spitfire in the very later marks, had developed into a less nimble aircraft. It was more of a handful, and less of a delight to fly and throw around the skies. It was still produced after the war in 21, 22 and 24 variants, but the performance could not keep pace with the new jets being introduced into the RAF, which were over 100mph faster and more agile.

The last Spitfire was made in February 1948, with the last Seafire coming off the production lines in January 1949. In almost a reconciliation between the two fighters, the Messerschmitt’s airframe was produced until 1954, in the Spanish variant, the HA-1109M. It was mated to the Merlin 500-45 engine, a commercial aircraft version of the famous fighter engine used in most of the Spitfires.

Other websites of interest

If you are a Spitfire devotee then here are some other websites you might find of interest. The Imperial War Museum have recently spent millions on their London museum and have a Spitfire as one of their main exibits in the new atrium.

Imperial War Museums
The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum
RJ Mitchell – Design Museum
The Solent Sky Museum
BBC History
The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
Spitfire LF Mark IX's of 341 Free French Squadron

Steve Lucas, the author and illustrator of Spitfire and Seafire, will be happy to undertake any commission you wish to propose. Working from his studio in Bournemouth he works in both the digital media as well as oils and gouache. With over thirty years of experience he has a gift for completing projects for both industry and private individuals.

Illustrated here are two examples of his work. If you would like to know more then email or call using the details at the end of this page.



Coming Home to Roost. Airbrushed Gouache on Bristol Board Dimensions, painted image 64x46cms. Three Spitfire LF Mark IX's of 341 Free French Squadron, 145 Wing, 2nd TAF, over Northern France peel off to attack a swarm of four low flying FW190's during September 1944.
Exhibition work
Sopwith Camel of 43 Squadron clashing with Albatros DVs

Aviation Paintings of the Year at the Mall Galleries London near Trafalgar Square from Tuesday 17th – Sunday 23rd July 2017. Free Admission see for more details.

To view Steve's paintings click the Guild of Aviation Artist logo above and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Forward Bunt Autumn 1940. Oil on canvas. Dimensions 82x82cms including frame. The fuel injected Messerschmitt Bf 109E of JG2 goes into a steep forward bunt to evade a pursuing Hurricane, who has to perform a half roll to follow, and stop his carburettor aspirated Merlin engine, from cutting out.
In the eye of the Hurricane. Oil on canvas. Dimensions 82x82cms including frame. Hurricanes sweep in to attack Messerschmitt Bf110's from behind in France during May 1940. This painting shows the Hurricanes prominent black port wing for identification of British aircraft from the ground.
Spitfire LF Mark IX's of 341 Free French Squadron
Fighting Cock France 1918. Oil on canvas Dimensions 100x75cms including frame. A 43 Squadron Sopwith Camel clashes with Albatros DV's over the Western Front 1918, in the idyllic early morning sunrise.

Sopwith Camel of 43 Squadron clashing with Albatros DVs

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If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us. Click here to email or call +(44) 1202 249691. You can even write if you prefer: Steve Lucas, 138 Shelbourne Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 8RA.

IMPORTANT: Due to new UK VAT Laws introduced on 1st January 2015 we are presently unable to take orders for our pdf book, Spitfire Mark by Mark, from the following European Union Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

By purchasing this book you agree to the following:
I agree that the rights to this picture (SEAFIRE F MARK III) remain the property of STEVE LUCAS. It is for my own personal use and I will not reproduce it in any other form, on any other website, document, book or in any other media, whether commercially or uncommercially. All rights reserved.
I agree that the property and rights of the illustrations and text contained in (SPITFIRE AND SEAFIRE, MARK BY MARK) remain the property of STEVE LUCAS. The contents of SPITFIRE AND SEAFIRE, MARK BY MARK) are for my own personal use and will not be copied, or passed on to any third party in full or in part, whether commercially or uncommercially. All right reserved.
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