R. J. Mitchell

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Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, (20 May 1895 - 11 June 1937) was an aeronautical engineer, best known for his design of the Supermarine Spitfire.


Early years

R.J. Mitchell was born at 115 Congleton Road, Butt Lane, Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, England.[2] After leaving Hanley High School at the age of 16 he gained an apprenticeship at Kerr Stuart & Co. of Fenton, a locomotive engineering works.[1] At the end of his apprenticeship he worked in the drawing office at Kert Stuart and studied engineering and mathematics at night school.

Aviation career

In 1917, he joined the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton. Advancing quickly within the company, Mitchell was appointed Chief Designer in 1919.[1] He was made Chief Engineer in 1920 and Technical Director in 1927. He was so highly regarded that, when Vickers took over Supermarine in 1928, one of the conditions was that Mitchell stay as a designer for the next five years.

Between 1920 and 1936, Mitchell designed 24 aircraft including light aircraft, fighters, bombers, several seaplanes and flying boats such as the Supermarine Walrus and Supermarine Stranraer. However, he is best remembered for his work on the Supermarine Schneider Trophy series of racing aircraft culminating in the Supermarine S.6B and the Supermarine Spitfire.

The S.6B won the Schneider Trophy in 1931 and later broke the world air speed record. Mitchell was awarded the CBE in 1932 for his contribution to high-speed flight. Mitchell's experience with high speed aircraft such as the S6B prompted the Air Ministry to issue specification F7/30 to Supermarine, primarily a seaplane manufacturer, for the design of a new fighter aircraft.

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