The legendary Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I is undoubtedly one of the most famous aircraft of all time. This was in no small part due to its performance during the Battle of Britain from July 1940 to October 1940 where, despite being less numerous than the similarly powered and armed Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, it proved to be the aircraft that mostly captured the imagination of the public. Designed from 1934 under the guidance of Supermarine chief designer RJ Mitchell and Alfred “Alf” Faddy, the prototype Spitfire first flew on 5 March 1936 and production aircraft began entering service with the RAF in May 1938. The Spitfire Mk.Ia was powered by a 1030hp Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and armed with 8 Browning .303” machine guns in the wings. Early production aircraft featured a 2-bladed fixed pitch propeller, a tall un-tapered aerial post and lacked any armour protection for the fuel tank and pilot. Numerous improvements were made throughout production, many of which were retrofitted to earlier aircraft and include a 3-blade dual-pitch De Havilland propeller, armour plating and a taller canopy hood with more headroom.
Later production Spitfire Mk.Ia (as featured in this model) saw the introduction of additional improvements including variable pitch "constant speed" propellers, a dual-position cockpit door catch, tapered aerial post, voltage regulator positioned behind the pilot’s headrest, engine driven hydraulic undercarriage retraction (replacing the cumbersome hand pump system), TR1133 radio without the need for an external aerial, reinforced radio access door, the deletion of the forward parachute flare tube and one of the fuel gauges on the instrument board. Numerous engine, airframe and armament improvements were made to the Spitfire before production ceased in 1948, by which time over 20000 Spitfires had been produced in a couple of dozen variants. Basically the most notable variants were the 1030hp Mk.Ia, 1470hp Mk.Vb, 1720hp Mk.IXc, 2035hp Mk.XIVe, the unarmed photo-reconnaissance Mk.XI and the navalised Seafire Mk.III.