Supermarine is synonymous with the staring role the Spitfire played in the Battle of Britain. But despite building such an iconic aircraft, the name behind the beauty and ability of the Spitfire appeared to drop out of sight relatively quickly.
Nearly 10 years before the Spitfire first flew, Supermarine was acquired by the industrial powerhouse Vickers to create Vickers-Armstrong Aircraft. Supermarine’s capability continued, designing small agile fighters whilst Vicker’s capability continued to create large aircraft and bombers. When speed and agility were no longer the preserve of fighters, and range no longer the preserve of bombers the two capabilities appeared to merge together. These capabilities created a series of innovative aircraft designs to meet the governments requirements for the cold war. The aircraft designs show the evolution behind the models that went into production - the journey from the Spitfire to the Tornado is not as radical as it appears!
Only three of the aircraft made it into service; the Attacker, the Scimitar and the Swift. The 508 and the 510 series of aircraft and the 571 derived TSR2 were the only other two to make it into the air. Supermarine was fully absorbed into Vickers aircraft in 1957 to build a proposition for the TSR2. Sucess in this bid meant merging with English Electric and Bristol to create BAC in 1960. The Vickers name lived on as an airliner brand for only a few more years before the remaining UK aerospace businesses were brought into the nationalized BAe.
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