Supermarine was a British aircraft manufacturer that became famous for producing a range of sea planes and the Supermarine Spitfire fighter. The name now belongs to an English motorboat manufacturer.
Noel Pemberton-Billing set up a company, Pemberton-Billing Ltd, in 1913 to produce sea-going aircraft. It also produced a couple of prototypes using quadruplane designs to shoot down zeppelins; the Supermarine P.B.29 and the Supermarine Nighthawk. The aircraft were fitted with the recoilless Davis gun and the Nighthawk had a separate powerplant to power a searchlight. Upon election as an MP in 1916 Pemberton-Billing sold the company to his factory manager and long time associate Hubert Scott-Paine who renamed the company Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd. The company became famous for its successes in the Schneider Trophy for seaplanes, especially the three wins in a row of 1927, 1929 and 1931.
In 1928 Vickers-Armstrongs took over Supermarine as Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd and in 1938 all Vickers-Armstrongs aviation interests were reorganised to become Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd, although Supermarine continued to design, build and trade under its own name. The phrase Vickers Supermarine was applied to the aircraft.
The first Supermarine landplane design to go into production was the famous and successful Spitfire. The earlier Hawker Hurricane and the Spitfire were the mainstay of RAF Fighter Command fighter aircraft which fought off the Luftwaffe bombing raids with fighter escorts during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. While the Hurricane was available in larger numbers and consequently played a larger role, the new Spitfire caught the popular imagination and became the aircraft associated with the battle.
Other well-known planes from World War II were the Seafire (a naval version of the Spitfire). Supermarine also developed the Spiteful and Seafang, the successors of the Spitfire and Seafire, resp., and the Walrus flying boat.
The Supermarine main works was in Woolston, Southampton which led to the city being heavily bombed in 1940. This curtailed work on their first heavy bomber design, the Supermarine B.12/36 which was replaced by the Short Stirling.
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