March 5, 1936 – The Supermarine Spitfire flew for the first time eighty years ago today. A single-seat fighter and interceptor, the Spitfire is the most famous British aircraft of all time. A small, graceful, elliptical-wing fighter, the Spitfire was not only one of the best performing fighters, but also one of the best looking. Although less numerous than the Hawker Hurricane during the Battle of Britain, it is still remembered as the sleek thoroughbred that turned the tide during that campaign. The Spitfire was among the fastest and most maneuverable fighters of World War II and served in every combat theater. Two dozen variants were built, powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines.
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