Once you’ve been bitten by the Spitfire bug, it’s impossible to let go. The classic warplane is irresistible on every level, with inspirational stories abounding of its heroic deeds in the name of king and country. Nowadays, it’s rare to find one – there are only 238 surviving Spitfires in the world, of which a mere quarter are airworthy. For those interested and lucky enough, UK experience provider Into the Blue offers a range of Spitfire Flying Experiences – making the dream of actually seeing, hearing, touching and flying in one of the majestic vintage fighters a precious reality.
Luckily, and as any aviation history buff knows, there’s such a wealth of information out there, you’ll never tire of discovering more facts, figures, and stories about our favorite warbird. With that in mind, we’ve put together our top 4 reading list for Spitfire enthusiasts, coming highly recommended by military history lovers far and wide. If you haven’t got these in your library, are you even a fan?!
Spitfire: The History, by Eric B Morgan and Edward Shacklady
If Spitfires are your thing, this book is your bible. Feast your eyes on 661 pages of illustrated history covering the entire career of the iconic warbird, starting with its first flight in 1936 through to its exemplary service throughout World War II. There’s detailed information on more than 22,500 aircraft comprising more than 2,000 images – action photographs, illustrations, scale plans, camouflage and markings artwork.
But don’t just take our word for it. Ask around the Spitfire fraternity and the feedback is simply overwhelming:
“The research behind this book is exemplary; the detail delicious in its depth. If it’s not in here then it’s probably been reported inaccurately somewhere else. Simply outstanding.”
“The greatest book ever written about the greatest airplane that ever flew!”
“This is, without doubt, the one and only publication for the discerning Spitfire aficionado. I purchased the first release in 1989 and still use it as a reference. This book is not for those wishing to browse pretty color pictures of this magnificent aircraft but a lifelong companion to refer to on technical subjects often difficult to find elsewhere.”
The Spitfire Story, by Dr Alfred Price
Written by a leading authority in aviation history and Spitfires in particular, this classic book isn’t so much a chronicle about Britain’s best-loved WWII aircraft in action. Rather, it majors on the vision, engineering skill, determination and hard work that were deployed enthusiastically and in large measure to advance, evolve and refine the unique characteristics for each version of the feisty fighter.
Using a mixture of vintage photographs and interviews with a wide range of different individuals involved in the design, manufacture, and testing of the Spit, Price has done a wonderful job in bringing to life this fascinating and enduring British success story. It’s a book that should appeal to any Battle of Britain enthusiast including those who have never heard or seen a Spitfire in the sky.
“Fulfilled all expectations, lots of illustrations and history. Perfect for Spitfire enthusiasts. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.”
Also highly recommended is Price’s Spitfire: A Complete Fighting History
“one of the best books available that describes the way it really was and how the chance of being killed became a daily expectation.”
Supermarine Spitfire: Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manual by Dr Alfred Price and Paul Blackah
The famous Haynes manual turns its attention to the legendary Supermarine Spitfire, in cooperation with the RAF, offering a unique insight into the inner workings of this remarkable historic fighter plane. Based on the restoration of the Spitfire Mk XVI at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, this detailed manual is a joy to behold.
“Well written and easy to understand even if you do not possess a technical training or background. Read in conjunction with the Merlin Owners Workshop Manual this manual will equip you to gain an in-depth knowledge of the inner workings, maintenance and operation of both the Spitfire and the Merlin engine which powered it.”
Not satisfied with one Haynes manual, Paul Blackah produced another one, Supermarine Spitfire: Haynes Restoration Manual. Aimed at the would-be restorer, or perhaps more realistically at members of the Spitfire restoration appreciation society, this book doesn’t hold back on nuts-and-bolts detail in explaining what it would take to return a Spitfire to the skies.
“If you love Spitfires, and you’re bored with all the usual “R.J.-Mitchell-designed-it-but-died-before-he-saw-his-creation-at-its-best-etc” type of book, then, this is the one for you! We are talking PROPER Hayne’s Manual-type stuff here. Stripped down engines, nuts and bolts, photos of men in overalls with suspiciously-clean hands, torque settings, working diagrams, tales of derring-do etc.”
Birth of a Legend: The Spitfire, by Jeffrey Quill
Written by Supermarine’s chief test pilot, the late Jeffrey Quill who literally lived and breathed Spitfires back in the day, this uplifting book recounts the fascinating events leading up to the birth and first few precarious years of development of Britain’s best-loved fighter aircraft.
Birth of a Legend is Quill’s second book, following the success of his first, Spitfire: A Test Pilot’s Story
“a gripping tale about a test pilot’s trials and tribulations in the 1930s and 40s, and his love affair with the fabled Spitfire”
which chronicles the rise of the iconic warbird from its prototype stage in 1936 to the end of its production in 1948. Quill used his active combat experience with 65 Squadron during the Battle of Britain to refine the elegant aircraft into the powerful fighter we all know and love.