Spitfire Mk IX Performance Testing

Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

22 October 1942

Spitfire F. Mk. IX BF.274
(Merlin 61)
Climb and level speed performance

SUMMARY

..................Climb and level speed performance has been measured on Spitfire F. Mk. IX B.F.274 both with and without a 30 gallon external jettisonable tank fitted. The climb performance at combat rating and position error have also been measured without the tank fitted. The engine was fitted with a 0.477:1 reduction gear and a Rotol R3/4F5/3 metal propeller.

Climb at normal rating:
Maximum rate of climb in M.S. supercharger 3200 ft.min at 13,500 ft.
Maximum rate of climb in F.S. supercharger 2540 ft/min. at 25,900 ft.
Service ceiling (100 ft/min) 42,100 ft.
Time to 10,000 ft. 3.1 mins.
Time to 20,000 ft. 6.5 mins.
Time to 30,000 ft. 10.7 mins
Time to 40,000 ft. 20.2 mins

Climb at Combat rating:
Maximum rate of climb in M.S. supercharger 3860 ft.min at 12,600 ft.
Maximum rate of climb in F.S. supercharger 3020 ft/min. at 25,200 ft.
Service ceiling (100 ft/min) 43,400 ft.
Time to 10,000 ft. 2.7 mins
Time to 20,000 ft. 5.6 mins.
Time to 30,000 ft. 9.2 mins
Time to 40,000 ft. 16.6 mins

Level Speeds.
Maximum true air speed in M.S. supercharger 380 1/2 m.p.h. at 15,400 ft.
Maximum true air speed in F.S. supercharger 403 m.p.h. at 27,400 ft.

Without 30 gallon tank

Performance on Climb
Speed and Boost at Height

For the full report see Spitfire F. Mk. IX BF.274 Climb and level speed performance


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

17 March 1943

Spitfire F. Mk. IX BS.428
(Merlin 61)
Level speed performance with and without
a 500 lb bomb fitted

SUMMARY

..................Level speed measurements have been carried out on this aircraft to assess the effect of fitting a 500 lb bomb on an unfaired rack beneath the fuselage. The installaton was one designed and fitted by Fighter Command personnel.

..................Level speed performance was measured between 11,000 ft. and 21,000 ft. using all-out level power conditions in M.S. supercharger gear with the radiator flaps closed.

Condition Max. True Air
speed
m.p.h.
Full throttle
height
feet.
   With one 500 lb. bomb fitted36314,500
   With external bomb installations removed38514,750

Conclusions

..................The reduction in maximum true air speed in M.S. supercharger gear due to fitting a 500 lb. bomb and a bomb rack without fairing is 22 m.p.h.

Level Speed Performance

For the full report see Spitfire F. Mk. IX BS.428 Level Speed Performance

First flight from Eastleigh 26-8-42. Transferred to 402 Sqdn. 26-8-42, Farnborough November 42 , Boscombe Down for above trials 14-1-43, 421 Sqdn 20-5-43, 611 Sqdn 15-10-44. Sold 24-11-49.


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

4 March 1943

Spitfire F. Mk. IX BS.543Spitfire F. Mk. IX BS.551
(Merlin 66)(Merlin 70)

The performance of Spitfire IX aircraft fitted with high and low
altitude versions of the intercooled Merlin engine.

SUMMARY

..................Two low altitude versions of the intercooled Merlin engine were made which were designated the RM-9SM and RM-10 SM. In addition an improved type of high altitude engine designated the RM-11 SM was made. The RM-10 SM and the RM-11 SM were subsequently given mark numbers and are now known as the Merlin 66 and Merlin 70 respectively.

Climbs

Condition Spitfire IX
BS. 543
Merlin 66
Spitfire IX
BS. 551
Merlin 70
   Rate of climb at Sea level 4620 ft/min 4390 ft/min.
   Rate of climb at full throttle
   height in M.S. supercharger gear
4700 ft/min
at 7000 ft.
4530 ft/min.
at 11,900 ft.
   Rate of climb at full throttle
   height in F.S. supercharger gear
3860 ft/min.
at 18,000 ft.
3480 ft/min.
at 24,700 ft.
   Rate of climb @ 30,000 ft. 2125 ft/min. 2600 ft/min.
   Time to 10,000 ft 2.15 mins. 2.25 mins.
   Time to 20,000 ft 4.75 mins. 4.85 mins.
   Time to 30,000 ft 8.4 mins. 8.05 mins.
   Height at which rate of climb is
   1000 ft/min.
37,100 ft. 38,000
   Time to reach above height 12.9 mins. 12.6 mins.
   Service ceiling (100ft/min) 40,900 ft. 41,000 ft.
   Estimated absolute ceiling 41,300 ft. 41,300 ft.

Rate of climb corrected to 18.0 lb/sq.in. boost

Level speeds

   Maximum level speed at sea level 336 m.p.h. 329 m.p.h.
   Maximum level speed at M.S. gear
   full throttle height
384 m.p.h.
at 10,800 ft.
396 m.p.h.
at 15,900 ft.
   Maximum level speed at F.S. gear
   full throttle height
407 m.p.h.
at 22,000 ft.
415.5
at 27,800 ft.
   Level Speed at 30,000 f.t 395 m.p.h. 413 m.p.h.

Level speeds corrected to 18.0 lb/sq.in. boost

RM-9SM engined Spitfire omitted

Climb Performance
Level Speed Performance

For more of this report click HERE

Note: BS.543 was built as a Mk V, converted to Mk IX (Merlin 61) at Rolls Royce, Hucknall. First flight 22-10-42. Transferred to AFDU, Duxford 8-11-42; AAEE, Boscombe Down 13-12-42 with Merlin 66 installed; Vickers Armstrong 22-2-43; 403 Sqdn. 9-6-43; 611 Sqdn. 10-6-43; 485 Sqdn. 6-7-43. Failed to return from operations 22-8-43.

BS.551 was built as a Mk V, converted to Mk IX (Merlin 61) at Rolls Royce, Hucknall. First flight 31-10-42. Merlin 70 installed by Rolls Royce, Hucknall 1-11-42. Flying accident, category E 4-1-43.


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

3 Aug 1943

Spitfire HF. Mk. IX EN.524
(Merlin 70)

Comparitive performance trials
with three different
propeller - reduction gear combinations

SUMMARY

..................Comparitive performance trials have been carried out on Spitfire HF. Mk. IX EN.524 with the following combinations of propeller and reduction gear:-

(i)0:477:1 reduction gear 10'9" diameter 4 blade propeller
(ii)0:42:1 reduction gear 10'9" diameter 4 blade propeller
(iii)0:42:1 reduction gear 11'1" diameter 4 blade propeller

0:477:1 reduction gear 10'9" diameter propeller results

Climbs

HeightRate of climb ft/minTime mins
   10,000 ft.43102.3
   11,300 ft. (M.S. s/c gear F.T. ht.)43102.6
   20,000 ft.32205.0
   23,900 ft. (F.S. s/c gear F.T. ht.)32206.2
   30,000 ft.22758.4
   40,000 ft.66516

   Service ceiling43,200
   Estimated absolute ceiling43,800

Level Speeds

HeightTAS mph
   Sea level326
   7,000 ft.358
   15,100 ft. (M.S. gear F.T. ht.)394
   26,600 ft. (F.S. gear F.T. ht.)413
   30,000 ft. 407
   39,000 ft.369

Results of the other combinations omitted

..................It was stated (in the above report) that further tests were to be carried out with a modified carburettor setting as it was hoped to improve the performance of the Merlin 70 at altitude. It is understood that EN.524 incorporated this modification and a comparison of the two sets of results shows a considerable improvement has been made. The absolute ceiling is now about 2,500 feet higher than that obtained on BS.551.

Conclusion

..................The combination giving the best compromise between climb and level speed performance appears to be the 10'9" diameter propeller with 0.477:1 reduction gear up to about 28,000 feet. Above this height the best combination appears to be the 11'1" propeller with 0.42:1 reduction gear.

..................However, the differences as a whole are so small that a change from any combination already produced and in Service (0.477:1/10'9") would not appear to be worthwhile.

Climb Performance
Level Speed Performance

For more of this report click HERE


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

9 April 1944

Spitfire HF. Mk. IX BS.310
(Merlin 70)

Comparitive performance
with 4 & 5 bladed propellers fitted

SUMMARY

..................Compartive climb and level speed performance trials have been made on Spitfire HF. Mk. IX BS.310 with a 0.477:1 reduction gear and a 4 blade propeller, and with a 0.42:1 reduction gear and a 5 blade propeller.

Climb at combat rating.
4 blade propeller
Max. rate of climb at full throttle height in M.S. supercharger gear4470 ft/min. (at 11,200 ft.)
Max. rate of climb at full throttle height in F.S. supercharger gear3400 ft/min. (at 22,700 ft.)
Time to 5,000 feet1.15 min.
Time to 11,200 feet (M.S. gear F.T. Ht.)2.55 min.
Time to 15,000 feet3.5 min.
Time to 22,700 feet (F.S. gear F.T. Ht.)5.65 min.
Time to 25,000 feet6.4 min.
Time to 35,000 feet11.05 min.
Time to 40,000 feet16.25 min.
Estimated service ceiling43,100 ft.

Level speed performance
Max. level speed at full throttle height in M.S. gear388 m.p.h. (at 14,600 ft.)
Max. level speed at full throttle height in F.S. gear405 m.p.h. (at 25,400 ft.)

5 blade propeller results omitted

Conclusion

..................The performance of the aircraft is similar with either propeller-reduction gear combination and no particular advantage in performance would be obtained by replacing the 4 blade propeller by a 5 blade propeller.

Climb Performance    
Level Speed Performance

For more of this report click HERE

Note: BS.310's first flight took place on August 31, 1942. Performance with the original Merlin 61 installed was 381 mph at 15,700' in MS gear and 413 mph at 28,000' in FS gear. It underwent brief performance trials at Vickers Armstrong, Worthy Down in December 1942 while fitted with a Merlin 66. The level speed results were 372 mph at 8,200' in MS gear and 404 mph at 19,500' in FS gear. Rate of climb was 4,850 ft/min at 6,000' in MS gear and 4,500 ft/min at 16,500' in FS gear. Failed to return from operations 27-9-44.


Rolls-Royce, Ltd
Hucknall
8 October 1943

Spitfire J.L.165 with Merlin 66 at 25 lbs. Boost Pressure

                 The increase of boost pressure to 25 lbs/sq.inch provides a considerable improvement in the low altitude performance of the Spitfire IX aircraft, the necessary modifications to achieve this being comparitively simple.

Climb performance

Altitude
feet.
Rate of climb
Ft/Min.
Improvement over climb at
+18 lbs. Boost.
          05740780 feet/min.
  5,0005080110    "    "    
10,0005080800    "    "    
15,0004470190    "    "    
20,0003720-
25,0002950-
30,0002200-

Level speed performance

Altitude feet+ 18 lbs. Boost.+ 25 lbs. Boost.Increase.
          0330 M.S.354 M.S.+ 24 M.P.H.
  3,200343 " 367 " (a)+ 24 M.P.H.
  8,000364 " 367 "+ 3 M.P.H.
10,000367 " 377 F.S.+10 M.P.H.
14,400373 F.S.397 (a)+ 24 M.P.H.
20,000397 (a)397-
25,000394 " 394-
(a) Full Throttle Height

Climb Performance at 25 Lbs Per Sq.In. Boost Rating
Level Speed Performance at 25 Lbs Per Sq.In. Boost Rating

For the full report see Spitfire J.L.165 with Merlin 66 at 25 lbs. Boost Pressure

Note: JL.165 was manufactured at Castle Bromwich as a Spitfire V (Merlin 45) and delivered on March 27, 1943. It was subsequently converted to a LFIX (Merlin 66) at Rolls Royce, Hucknall. Performance trials at Rolls Royce, Hucknall using +25 lbs. boost in October 1943, AAEE for trials 11-11-43, Transfered to Air Service Training 3-6-44, 6 Maintenance Unit 26-10-44, 82 Maintenace Unit 10-11-44, Casablanca 15-1-45, Struck off charge 28-8-47.


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

1 Feb 1944

Spitfire IX JL.165
(Merlin 66)

Trials at +25 lb/sq.inch boost
with Rotol 4 blade propeller

SUMMARY

..................Performance trials and a brief assessment of handling characteristics have been completed on a standard Spitfire IX with Merlin 66 engine, adjusted for maximum boost of +25 lb/sq.inch. 150 grade fuel to Specification RDE/F/253 was used through all tests.

Engine conditions - 3000 rpm + 25 lb/sq.in. boost.

Climbs

Max. rate of climb in M.S. gear (radiator flaps open)5080 ft/min up to 500 feet
Max. rate of climb in F.S. gear (radiator flaps open)4335 ft/min at 11,400 feet
Max. rate of climb in F.S. gear (radiator flaps shut)4750 ft/min at 11,400 feet
Estimated increase in rate of climb below full throttle heights
due to increase in boost from +18 to +25 lb/sq.in.
950 ft/min

Level speeds

Maximum true air speed in M.S. gear364 mph at 2,800 feet
Maximum true air speed in F.S. gear389 mph at 13,800 feet
Estimated increase in speed below full throttle heights due to
increase in boost from +18 to +25 lb/sq.in.
30 mph.

Conclusions

..................The increase in performance with the increase in boost from +18 to +25 lb/sq.in. corresponds to :

1) 950 ft/min. in rate of climb in M.S. gear
2) 900 ft/min. in rate of climb in F.S. gear
3) 30 mph in maximum level speed in M.S. and F.S. gear

..................There is also an increase in fuel consumption of approximately 24%.

..................No maintenance difficulties of the engine were experienced.

Climb Performance
Level Speed Performance

For the full report see Trials at +25 lb/sq.inch boost with Rotol 4 blade propeller

Note: JL.165 was manufactured at Castle Bromwich as a Spitfire V (Merlin 45) and delivered on March 27, 1943. It was subsequently converted to a LFIX (Merlin 66) at Rolls Royce, Hucknall. Performance trials at Rolls Royce, Hucknall using +25 lbs. boost in October 1943, AAEE for trials 11-11-43, Transfered to Air Service Training 3-6-44, 6 Maintenance Unit 26-10-44, 82 Maintenace Unit 10-11-44, Casablanca 15-1-45, Struck off charge 28-8-47.


Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
Boscombe Down

31 March 1944

Spitfire LF Mk. IX MA.648
(Merlin 66)

Level speed trials with S.U. Mark II
single point fuel injection pump

SUMMARY

..................A Rolls Royce S.U. fuel injection pump, Mark II has been fitted to Spitfire LF Mk.IX MA.648 in place of the normal Bendix carburettor and level speed performance has been measured as part of the general schedule of tests including fuel consumption and behaviour under negative 'g'.

..................The principal results at combat conditions (i.e. 3000 rpm and +18 lb/sq.in. boost) are as follows:-

Max. speed at F.T. height (9,400 ft.) in M.S. gear = 379 mph
Max. speed at F.T. height (21,000 ft.) in F.S. gear = 411 mph

..................These results compare favorably with those of other Spitfire LF Mk. IX aircraft, which fact is attributed cheifly to the higher full throttle height obtained with the S.U. pump.

Level Speed Performance

For the full report see Spitfire LF Mk. IX MA.648 Level Speed Trials


Air Ministry, A.I.2.(g), Whitehall
20 March 1943

Spitfire IX v. German Fighters

Spitfire IX

..................No sealed cabin or pressurising equipment.

..................Engine Merlin 61.

..................Armament 2 x 20 mm. and 4 x .303" MG's.

Max. speeds: At present engine rating (+15 lb. per sq. inch boost and 3,000 r.p.m.):

380 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft.
405 m.p.h. at 28,000 ft.
394 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft.

..................New aircraft coming into service will be fitted with re-rated engines operating at + 18 lb. per sq. inch boost and 3,000 r.p.m.

..................The maximum speeds will be increased as follows:

385 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft.
409 m.p.h. at 28,000 ft.
394 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft.

Rate of climb at 20,000 ft:

..................The rate of climb varies according to type of reduction gear fitted.

..................With an 0.42 reduction gear (at + 15 lb. per sq.inch boost) the rate of climb is 2,540 per minute.

..................With the same reduction gear, but at + 18 lb. per sq. inch, the rate of climb is 2,750 ft. per minute.

..................With an 0.477 reduction gear (at + 15 per sq. inch boost) the rate of climb is 2,950 ft. per minute and increases to 3,230 ft. per minute at + 18 lb. per sq. inch boost.

Service ceiling (Max., no load):

With 0.42 reduction gear: 41,000 ft.
With 0.477 reduction gear: 43,000 ft.

Remarks

..................Both the Me 109 G and the FW 190 A were originally, and in some cases still are operated at a reduced engine rating. Performances given correspond to the full engine ratings.

Conclusions

..................Me 109 G fighters are slightly faster than the Fw 190 A at 20,000 to 22,000 ft. The difference of speed increases with altitude and is about 25 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft. in favour of the Me 109 G.

..................The rate of climb of the Me 109 G, without additional guns, is slightly better than that of the Fw 109 A. The same remark applies to the service ceiling.

..................The Spitfire IX at 28,000 to 30,000 ft. is superior in speed to the Me 109 G and the Fw 190 A.

..................Its rate of climb at 20,000 ft. with the 0.42 reduction gear is inferior to the Fw 190 A and the Me109 G, even when operating at +18 lb. per sq. inch boost.

..................When fitted with the 0.477 reduction gear and at +15 lb. per sq. inch boost the Spitfire is equal in rate of climb to the Me 109 G-2; when operating at +18 lb. per sq. inch boost it is superior to all German fighters at present in service.

..................The ceiling of the Spitfire IX is considerably higher than that of the Me 109 G or the Fw 190 A at present in service.

A.I.2(g)
20.3.43
Ref: 2G/GA113/P


Aircraft Data

AircraftEngineEngine
Power (B.H.P.)
Max. SpeedWeight Lb.Service Ceiling
Mean weight
Spitfire F IX  Merlin 631,710 @ 8,500'  
1,520 @ 21,000'
382 mph @ 12,500' MS
408 mph @ 25,000' FS 
7,45044,000'
Spitfire LF IXMerlin 661,720 @ 5,750'  
1,595 @ 16,000'
384 mph @ 10,500' MS
404 mph @ 21,000' FS 
7,45042,500
Spitfire HF IXMerlin 701,710 @ 11,000
1,475 @ 23,250'
396 mph @ 15,000' MS
416 mph @ 27,500' FS 
7,45045,000'

Operational Highlights

No. 64 Squadron at Hornchurch was the first squadron to go operational with Spitfire IXs (28-July-1942). Deliveries of more powerful Spitfire IXs equipped with Merlin 63, 66, or 70s commenced in early 1943. No 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill was the first to use the Merlin 66 engined Spitfire LF IX on operations (March 1943). Full service approval of +25 lbs boost was granted 10 March 1944, providing considerable improvement in low altitude performance. No. 1 and No. 165 squadrons at Predannack were the first to convert their Spitfires to +25 lbs boost, taking 2 days off from operations in early May 44 to do so.

Supplemental

64 Squadron operational with Spitfire IXs, 28 July 1942
81 Squadron re-equips with Spitfire IXs in North Africa, 28 January 1943
611 Squadron converts to Merlin 66 engined Spitfire IXs, 1 March 1943
No. 165 Squadron converts their Spitfire IXs to +25 lbs/sq.in. boost, 4.5.44 Page 1 Page 2
1 Squadron aircraft modified to run on 150 Octane and 25 lbs boost, 7 May 1944
Operation of Spitfire IX LF with 25 lbs/sq.in. Boost
Use of Grade 150 Fuel by the Second Tactical Air Force
LF IX speed comparison: +18 vrs +25 lbs/sq.in. boost
SL speeds, Crossbow Fighters 11 July 1944
Backfires 27 July 1944
Merlin 66 HP Chart
Merlin 66 development - engine performance projected and accomplished in 1943 (from Rolls-Royce)
Spitfire performance projected and achieved by Merlin 66 engine development in 1943 (from Rolls-Royce)
Throttle Quadrant Adjustment (25 Lb. Boost)
Spitfire IX Fuel System (Long Range)
Rolls-Royce Merlin 63, 63A, 64, 72 & 73 Engines, Altitude Performance at 3000 R.P.M.
Comparison-Merlin 61, 63, 63A, 66 & 70 Engines
Packard-Merlin 266 Engine Installation
Packard-Merlin 266 Engine, Intercooling System
Fuel System (Long Range)
Ground Handling and Preparation for Flight
.303 in. and 20 mm Gun Installation
.5 in. & 20 mm Gun Installation
Handling with rear fuselage tank and metal elevators.


[Spitfire IX versus Me 109 G: Performance Comparison From Flight Trials]

[Spitfire IX Tactical Trials] [Spitfire IX - Me.109G Tactical Comparison] [Spitfire IX Weights and Loading]

[WWII Aircraft Performance] [Spitfire Performance Testing]