Aviation History

During World War II Germans re-engined a Spitfire with a DB 605A. It was found to be better than the Merlin version.

Performance of the Spitfire with the DB 605 was superb – significantly better than the Merlin version.

The Supermarine Spitfire is probably the most famous of all British aircraft.

The Spitfire, designed by Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd initially on a private venture basis, was highly influenced by a desire to offer a higher performance than had been previously achieved by the F.7/30 design. This, combined with a further desire to advance the potential of the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines, saw their parallel development form an integral part of the Supermarine Spitfire story.

Did World War II German engineers ever put a German engine into a captured Spitfire?

‘Yes and they tested it at Rechlin – where it was found to be better than the Merlin version!,’ Charles McDevitt, an aviation historian, explains on Quora.

‘In November 1942, Spitfire VB EN830 NX-X of 131 Squadron made a forced landing in a turnip field in German-occupied Jersey. The plane was repaired by German forces and re-engined with a DB 605A, amongst other modifications.

‘When the Merlin engine was removed it was discovered that the fuselage cross section was virtually identical to that of the engine nacelle of a Messerschmitt Bf-110G. Consequently, a new engine support structure was built onto the Spitfire’s fuselage and the DB 605 engine and cowling panels added. A propeller unit and supercharger air intake from a Bf 109 G completed the installation.

‘Other changes made were to replace the Spitfire instruments with German types, and to change the 12-volt electrical system to the German 24-volt type. In this form the Daimler-Benz Spitfire started flying in early 1944.

‘The ease of switching between upright and inverted V12’s should come as no great surprise since the first Bf 109 flew with a Rolls Royce Kestrel engine.’

McDevitt concludes;

‘The ‘mule’ retained the sweet handling of the original Spitfire and was popular with German pilots more used to the wilful landing performance of the Bf-109.

‘Performance with the DB 605 was superb – significantly better than the Merlin version – but then it had had all armament removed and was a lot lighter!

‘It was flown regularly until destroyed in a USAAF bombing raid on 14 August 1944.’

Photo credit: WW2aircraft.net

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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