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Author Topic: Heavier, non-standard armament for some Malta Spitfires Mk.V ?  (Read 4686 times)
Posts: 3

« on: August 21, 2012, 01:06:47 PM »

OK, another question...

I always thought that Spitfires Mk.Vb or Vc were always armed with the standard two 20mm cannon and the four 0.303 guns. However, I have come to believe that at least part of the Spitfires that served in Malta in dark days of the first half of 1942 were armed with four cannon AND four machine guns. Is this true ? Denis Barnham, in his superb autobiography as a Malta Spitfire pilot does not mention this explicitly, but in a passing remark tells that their taking-off from the ferrying aircraft carrier had been complicated by the very heave take-off weight of the machines, amongst other things caused by ".... the heavier than ususal armament" that their Spitfires had . There also seems to be some pictorial evidence of some Malta Spitfires armed as described above ( Osprey - Spitfire Malta Aces ) but I have only seen drawings, never any photos.

I was aware of Spitfires being eventually armed with four 20mm cannon ( only ), but I always thought that this had come in the very final versions of the Griffon-powered Marks, towards the end of the war and post-war.
But I had never known before of the possibility, as early as 1942, of operational Spitfires having four guns, and even more surprisingly, while retaining the four 0.303 guns !!

-  Can somebody confirm this ?
-  If so, what was specific about the Malta fighting that suggested / required this specific disposition ?
-  Was it used elsewhere ?

I am not after a lengthy answer on all the different types of armamanet carried by the Spitfires along its career, but just on this issue of the "4 + 4 "

Thanks !!
Edgar Brooks
Full Member
Posts: 183

« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 02:55:39 PM »

For some deliveries, Malta H.Q. specifically requested that the Vc should be delivered with four cannon, but without the .303", since they had sufficient stocks to fit them, on arrival. They needed the extra cannon to use as spares, for items like breech blocks, which were running low. The Brownings were to be removed at Gibraltar, and the cannon loaded with a reduced amount of ammunition. Apparently pilots found out what personal items were in short supply, and stuffed them into the empty compartments.
P.S. At least one senior officer (can't remember who) refused to allow the extra cannon to be removed, and kept the 4 x 20mm; I've no idea if he had the 4 x .303" fitted as well.
Jr. Member
Posts: 68

« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 05:07:13 AM »

Here's a photo of BR226 which was delivered to Malta in June 1942: by the look of it this was taken in England prior to being loaded onto USS Wasp.

Full Member
Posts: 161

« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 12:12:14 PM »

The photograph was taken on the quay at Port Glasgow (Scotland) while being loaded onto the USS Wasp. There is another photograph of it being hoisted by a crane. In all the books as they say. Flt Lt Norman MacQueen met his death in this Spitfire 4th May 1942.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 12:17:02 PM by Antoni » Logged
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