SPITFIRE Mk XIV

Just as the performance of the Merlin had been transformed by a two-stage supercharger, so the already impressive power of the Griffon engine was boosted to a staggering 2,050 hp. A five bladed propeller had to be used to absorb this new power. The MK XIV fuselage was based on the VIII but with a fin and rudder of larger area to improve directional stability with the new engine power. Later XIVs were fitted with “teardrop” cockpit canopies to improve vision to the rear. Like the XII the XIV had the Griffon “bulges” on the nose but had symmetrical radiators under the wings, whereas the XII had asymmetrical radiators like the single-stage Merlin engined Spits. The XIV was fitted with armament of either two cannons and four .303 machine-guns or two cannon and two .50 machine-guns. The MK XIV was the next Spitfire to be produced in quantity and took the fight to the enemy, being introduced in 1944 in time for the liberation of Europe. The XIV had the measure of the long-nosed FW190 D that appeared some time later. However by this time air superiority had been largely won, so the Spitfires were often free to engage ground targets. The MK XIV could carry a 250 or 500 lb bomb under the fuselage and two 250 lb bombs under the wings. (Even so it would take a whole squadron of Spitfires to carry the bombload of a single Lancaster bomber-and over much less range!) The MK XIV was also one of the few aircraft able to catch and destroy the V1 flying bomb. The Spitfires could sometimes “tip-up” the wing of a V1 by flying alongside and putting their wing under that of the flying-bomb, causing it to tumble out of control. 957 Spitfire Mk XIV aircraft were produced.