A state of confusion! A Mk IX or Mk XVI?

Article written by Phil Scallan.


The Spitfire Mk XVI and why was SAAF 5518/TE213, a MKIX HFIX, often mistaken for one?


The late production MKIX Spitfires are externally very similar to the MKXVI Spitfire, but those late production MKIX's fitted with the Merlin266 built by the US Packard Motor Company were designated MKXVIs to differentiate them from those with British built Rolls Royce Merlin 66s. The Merlin 266, a low rated Merlin 66 began reaching England in quantity in 1944, and was installed in production MKIXs from September 1944. The two engines differed enough to require separate servicing tools and parts.


Among the changes incorporated by Packard,which was built to metric measurements, was an electro-hydraulically operated supercharger gear (compared to electro-pneumatic British engines). The inter-cooler header tank was integral with the power unit rather than bulk head mounted, and the oil piping run was modified.


So why would one mistake 5518 for a MKXVI? Well, from February 1945 the low-back and bubble canopy was standard on the MKXVI, and most MKVI's had the clipped 'e' wings for the low level role. 5518 has both these features. A total of 1053 MKXVIs were built. The bubble canopy was a development from the P-51 Mustang and finally gave the Spitfire Pilot a rear hemisphere view. Incidentally both the MKXVI and SAAF 5518 are products of Castle Bromwich.

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