[May 7, 2023] For me, it is hard to imagine the evils of World War II, the heroics, the unity, and the development of technology for all purposes of warfare, food production, and transportation. As a kid, I lived with many of these veterans and was told stories that fascinate me today. One of those stories was the development of the Spitfire.
No, this article is not about how the Spitfire was developed or its use by British pilots throughout the war but about a man who was reluctant to design the Spitfire. That man was R.J. Mitchell. The world owes an outstanding debt to this man because of the finest design of this aircraft that enabled skilled pilots to defend the island nation of Britain, holding out against the Nazi juggernaut.
R.J. Mitchell primarily designed float aircraft and various airplanes for racing. He was recognized worldwide for his superior skills in aerodynamic design, his aircraft winning several important contests.
While the Spitfire was Mitchell’s crowning glory, he never saw it in action during the war. He died of cancer in 1937 at the age of 42.
His obituary published in The Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1937 described him as “brilliant” and “one of the leading designers in the world.” The Society paid tribute to their colleague, describing him as “a quiet, subtle, not obvious genius” who had “an intuitive capacity for grasping the essentials, getting to the point and staying there.” 1
Yes, indeed, the world owes this man a considerable debt of gratitude. His early death is a great loss to free nations of the world.
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It is good to know that there are always men who are willing to step up and be the ones who fight off the evil that men have in them. RJ Mitchell is one of them. Never forget him. I’m sure the British will never forget.
RJ Mitchell. Hero of Britain.
.. hero for all of us who desire freedom from oppression. 🇬🇧 🇬🇧 🇬🇧 🇬🇧
I agree.. Thank you Gen. S. for highlighting another hero for us.
The Spitfire would of course would become the design most associated with Mitchell but the design and initial production period were far from successful or straight forward compared with its later legendary following of pilots and public alike. The origins began with the Type 224 of 1931, unfortunately it lacked the streamlined presence of the Schneider Trophy seaplanes and struggled to achieve the performance parameters set by the Air Ministry. After the aircraft’s rejection in 1934, Mitchell and his team revised the designed under the designation Type 300 which would result in a whole Ministry specification based around it and become known as the Spitfire. The prototype K5054 took off for the first time from Eastleigh on 5 March 1936 under the control of Chief Test Pilot (Mutt) Summers. Both performance and production would remain troublesome up until the Battle of Britain but its advanced features meant that it could be continuously improved during the War to counter competition from Luftwaffe fighters.
Shows that even the most talented of folks need to work as part of a team to perfect solutions to a final product.
I agree too.
R.J. Mitchell was one of Britain’s outstanding aeronautical engineers and designers during the interwar period. Responsible for the Supermarine seaplanes that won the Schneider Trophy outright for Great Britain in 1931 and of course the legendary Spitfire. It’s important to note that Mitchell led a team of people that were collectively behind these achievements and indeed had to continue his work after his premature death in 1937. A terrible loss for mankind.
Spot on comment Wild Bill. Thanks for the info. Maybe Gen. Satterfield could do a special on RJ Mitchell for us and give us something about his personality (as best can be derived from those around him) that is valuable for those of us looking for leadership traits. Just a thought.
I’m on board with your recommendation. Yep!
Yes, and if you really and truly want to read about real heroes, then read Gen. Satterfield’s book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq” and you will be happy you did. A story on very page. A thrill everytime you turn a page. This is what our heroes do.