25 Years of Honoring & Remembering

Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV


Seafire Mk. XV_1_whiteBG.gif (293784 bytes)This airplane is one of only four known Seafire Mk. XVs to exist in the world and it may be the only flying Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV in the world.  Dr. Wes Strickler's immaculate Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV (also known as the "hooked Spitfire") is based in Columbia, MO, was restored by Jim Cooper, and made its first post-restoration flight in 2010.  The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers.  The Seafire's mission was primarily as a short range interceptor.  The name Seafire was derived by abbreviating the longer name "Sea Spitfire".

The Mk XV variant of the Seafire was powered by a Griffon VI (single-stage supercharger, rated at 1,850 hp driving a 10 ft 5 in Rotol propeller. It appeared to be a naval Spitfire F Mk XII but was an amalgamation of a strengthened Seafire III airframe and wings with the wing fuel tanks, retractable tailwheel, larger elevators and broad-chord "pointed" rudder of the Spitfire VIII. The engine cowling was from the Spitfire XII series, being secured with a larger number of fasteners and lacking the acorn shaped blister behind the spinner.   A vee-shaped guard forward of the tailwheel prevented arrestor wires getting tangled up with the tailwheel.

One problem which immediately surfaced was the poor deck behavior of this mark, especially on take-off. At full power the slipstream of the propeller, which swung to the left (as opposed to the Merlin, which swung to the right), often forced the Seafire to swing to starboard, even with the rudder hard over on opposite lock. This sometimes led to a collision with the carrier's island. The undercarriage oleo legs were still the same as the much lighter Merlin engined Spitfires, meaning that the swing was often accompanied by a series of hops.  This undercarriage also gave it a propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing and occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier.
Wing span: 36ft 10in.  Max takeoff weight: 7,640 lb.  Max speed: 359 mph.   Power: 1,850 hp.