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Spitfire XIV armament and engine boost introduction dates


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On 7/25/2020 at 9:31 PM, NZTyphoon said:

This is from 130 Sqn's Record of Operations book, October 1944: this was the first month that the unit was re-equipped with .50 armed Spitfire XIVs.

349295085_130SqnORBDec44-Jul4547.thumb.jpg.6f8ac2d10b1b233d27b4e30774605cd1.jpg

 

Yes, I think what happened is that all the XIV units that were sent to Second Tactical Air Force on the Continent were refitted with .50 cal MGs just prior to or after their arrival on the mainland. Prior to that, most units still based out of England kept their .303s, with the exception being units like 322 and 402 squadrons.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/10/2020 at 8:19 AM, Talon_ said:

Inner gun bay cannon, C-type wings on Spitfire RB140

 

Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIVe, RB140. The first Spitfire Ma… | Flickr

 

I have a question about this plane, because what I'm finding is a bit confusing. This plane is listed on the IWM's website as being a Mark XIVe and that it served with 610 Squadron from 6 April 1944. Furthermore, this list of production Spitfires* lists it as being the first XIVe. But yet, in all these photos, it's apparent it has the C Wing. So, was this plane ever really a XIVe?

 

*RB140 XIV 5176 EA G65 F21 fin and rud install. First prod XIVE 39MU 20-12-43 616S 1-2-44 DeH 'Gem' mods 6-4-44 610S Stalled on landing and wing hit ground overturned Lympne CE 30-10-44

 

I take the above entry to mean:

 

39 Maintenance Unit: 20 December 1943

616 Squadron: 1 February 1944

Griffon Engine Modifications: 6 April 1944

610 Squadron: Stalled on landing and wing hit ground overturned at Lympne: 30 October 1944

 

Because, if this really isn't a XIVe, then the earliest entry I have for an XIVe is RM 726, which went to 39 Maintenance Unit on 18 June 1944 and was issued to 91 Squadron on 14 July 1944:

 

RM726 XIVe EA G65 39MU 18-6-44 91S 14-7-44 402S 7-9-44 CAC ops 11-10-44 419RSU 402S GACB 17-4-45 ASTH to BAF as SG-14 25-7-47 crashed 8-9-52.

 

Now, I don't think that production list is the final say, because there were plenty XIVes going to 322 Squadron in August 1944, but maddeningly their ORBs don't state what serial numbers these were. So, what to do...? 🤔

Edited by LukeFF
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You have any other photo of an alleged Mk.XIVe with the cannons on the inboard bay?

 

Johnnie Johnsons Mk.XIVE MV268 (bubble top canpoy) had the guns in typical E wing arrangement for instance. 

 

RB140 is the first production E, but that mainly means it has no outer wing machine guns, yet it has the inner twin housing that can accept either Hispanos or 20 mm. What if RB140 was just armed with twin 20 mm and no BMG? I don‘t see patches on the outer wing leading edges. It can be an E wing, but what if they just put in the Hispanos as they did on the C wing? It is a bastard aircraft anyway. I am not aware of any technical reason that on the E wing you cannot install Hispanos on the inner gun bay, especially if you were to ditch the BMG.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Good points. I had a closer look at one of the pictures of RB140, and you can see that it most likely has spent shell chutes for the .303s on the underside of the wings.

 

So, my conclusion is that RB140 didn't receive .50 cal MGs until later than April 1944:

 

247732823_Supermarine_Spitfire_Mk_XIVe_RB140_in_March_1944._This_aircraft_served_operationally_with_-nding_accident_at_Lympne_on_30_October_1944._E(MOS)13.thumb.jpg.f7f0167d5f75a9326e57b3ef7d291447.jpg

Edited by LukeFF
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On 4/12/2021 at 9:25 PM, ZachariasX said:

RB140 is the first production E, but that mainly means it has no outer wing machine guns, yet it has the inner twin housing that can accept either Hispanos or 20 mm. What if RB140 was just armed with twin 20 mm and no BMG? I don‘t see patches on the outer wing leading edges. It can be an E wing, but what if they just put in the Hispanos as they did on the C wing? It is a bastard aircraft anyway. I am not aware of any technical reason that on the E wing you cannot install Hispanos on the inner gun bay, especially if you were to ditch the BMG.

 

From a technical standpoint, E and C wings are structurally identical - E and C are only labels for armament configuration.

 

I've read several reports that V-1 chasers only flew with 20mm (i.e. no .50 or .303) to save weight. Given the time frame of this airframe I don't doubt that this is what we're seeing in the photos.

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1 hour ago, Talon_ said:

From a technical standpoint, E and C wings are structurally identical - E and C are only labels for armament configuration.

 

I've read several reports that V-1 chasers only flew with 20mm (i.e. no .50 or .303) to save weight. Given the time frame of this airframe I don't doubt that this is what we're seeing in the photos.

 

Yes, I think you are right. Given that, do you think it is valid to have .50 cals available for the Mk XIV from April 1944?

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Hi Folks,

 

This combat report from 7th March 1944 shows 150 rounds per cannon with 76 rounds S.A.P.I. and 74 rounds H.E.I. per gun for the Spitfire XIV and makes no mention of machine gun loadout.  This armament information is near the bottom of the report just above the signatures.

 

http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/610_Harding_7march44.pdf

 

Regarding RAF loadouts, Semi Armoured Piercing Incendiary (S.A.P.I.) and Hight Explosive Incendiary (H.E.I.) for the 20mm Hispano, according to this source: Guns of the Royal Air Force 1939-1945.: Amazon.co.uk: Wallace, G.F.: 9780718303624: Books

 

"For the latter half of the war the standard ammunition for fixed gun fighters was a 50-50 mixture of HE/I and SAP/I."

 

 

Where the HE/I was designed thus:

  Quote

During experiments to develop an incendiary [20mm] shell the effect of adding an  incendiary pellet to the HE shell was tried. It's performance against petrol tanks was impressive; it was far more effective than either the [plain] HE shell or the plain incendiary.

 

In 1940 the De Wilde type of incendiary composition was used and a High Explosive-Incendiary shell containing equal amounts of HE and Incendiary composition was approved..... it completely replaced the HE shall and remained in use until the end of the war.

 

The original [Hispano design] percussion nose fuze fitted to the 20mm shell was expensive, difficult to make and had a centrifugal safety device. One of its main troubles was that it was so sensitive that the shell would explode on the surface of an aeroplane, doing only superficial damage. It would be far more effective if it penetrated into the aircraft structure before exploding... [because of this the British] developed the the striker-less fuze which was known as 'Fuze Percussion D.A. No. 253 Mark I'. It was fitted... on all the HE/I. Besides being cheaper and easier to make... it gave sufficient delay in operation to allow the shell to penetrate some distance into the aeroplane structure before exploding.

 

 

Where the SAP/I (Semi-Armour Piercing/Incendiary) was designed thus:

  Quote

By the end of 1940 the Germans were armouring their aircraft; in particular they were providing armour protection for for their self sealing fuel tanks. The Ball ammunition then in use would penetrate the armour without difficulty, but had little incendiary effect. The HE shell had good incendiary effect but detonated on the surface of the armour without penetrating to the petrol tank.

 

 In October [1940] the War office Design Department was asked to design a shell which would penetrate armour and also have some incendiary effect. During 1941 as a result of trials they evolved a shell which consisted of the standard HE shell body filled with Incendiary composition and having an Armour-Piercing tip in place of the fuse. Trials against 18mmm armour plate showed that the AP tip passed through the plate followed by the incendiary composition in flame whilst the shell body broke up on the plate. The penetration was better than the existing Ball ammunition, but not as good as a properly designed Armour-Piercing shell would be. It was however adequate for the conditions of the time as no armour over 12mm was being fitted by the Germans [to their aircraft].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 4/15/2021 at 6:40 PM, LukeFF said:

 

Yes, I think you are right. Given that, do you think it is valid to have .50 cals available for the Mk XIV from April 1944?

 

I think on balance that it is unlikely Spitfire XIVs were carrying .50cal before D-Day.

 

As the C and E wings are the same, I believe the Spits at this time (i.e. Spring 1944) were all built with .303 - those that were involved in V-1 chasing were stripped of the MGs, and then whenever they found their way back into "normal" service they were refitted with .50. Those that were not involved in chasing V-1s were probably changed over on a squadron level and quite slowly. I don't doubt, knowing the RAF, that several squadrons will have flown with a mix of C and E armaments on several occasions between July-October.

Edited by Talon_
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I would add that I strongly suspect that the XIV's didn't see .50s till units equipped with the type were pushed to 2nd TAF; there was already a desire to standardise their IXs/XVIs with the 'E' configuration armament and this was finally becoming the norm in late '44 which coincides with the first units equipped with the XIV starting to move to the continent.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Talon_ said:

 

I think on balance that it is unlikely Spitfire XIVs were carrying .50cal before D-Day.

 

As the C and E wings are the same, I believe the Spits at this time (i.e. Spring 1944) were all built with .303 - those that were involved in V-1 chasing were stripped of the MGs, and then whenever they found their way back into "normal" service they were refitted with .50. Those that were not involved in chasing V-1s were probably changed over on a squadron level and quite slowly. I don't doubt, knowing the RAF, that several squadrons will have flown with a mix of C and E armaments on several occasions between July-October.

 

Yes, I'm thinking that the first XIVs issued to 322 Squadron in August 1944, which specifically mention them being armed with .50 cal MGs, represent the first operational XIVs fitted with that armament. 

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On 4/13/2021 at 12:00 AM, LukeFF said:

So, my conclusion is that RB140 didn't receive .50 cal MGs until later than April 1944:

 

Hmm, Morgan and Shacklady "Spitfire the history" have the following about RB 140 (page 421) "Eightth order for Mk XIV dated 14 August 1943. Built as Mk XIVs between October 1943 and March 1944. RB140-189" and on page 424: RB140 5176 FXIVE STN F-21 fin and rud metal. First prod XIVE 39MU 20-12-43 616S 1-2-44 DeH "Gem" mods 6-4- 610S CE ops 30-10

 

I can not make much sense of most of those abbreviations, but "First prod XIVE and 20-12-43" sounds to me like it ran off the production line or was accepted for service as an E-wing 20-12-43.

 

On 4/15/2021 at 7:40 PM, LukeFF said:

 

Yes, I think you are right. Given that, do you think it is valid to have .50 cals available for the Mk XIV from April 1944?

 

I would say yes.

Edited by sevenless
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