Back in November 2022, we spent two days at the Scale Modelworld show in Telford displaying the WPA series to the modelling fraternity. The hot topic of discussion was Airfix’s new 1/24 scale Spitfire Mk IX and of course we were constantly being asked if we had a Mk IX in our series. We had in fact pencilled the Mk IX in a long time ago but couldn’t find an author to take it on. Suitably inspired by Telford, we decided to do it ourselves as a bit of a team effort, with Simon taking the lion’s share and the rest of us contributing our own expertise when required.
It soon became clear that the history of the Mk IX was quite complicated, with many false assumptions being made and repeated in post-war publications. So we went back to the start and called upon the leading experts in the field to help us find the truth.
When Spitfire Mk V pilots first met the FW190s of JG26 in August 1941, it immediately became apparent their old Spitfires were completely outclassed by the Luftwaffe’s new fighter. Losses rose rapidly as more Spitfires fell to the guns of the FW190 pilots until, on 13 November 1941, all but essential fighter operations over Europe were halted.
A new fighter capable of matching the performance of the FW190 was needed – urgently. The planned successors to the Spitfire Mk V were the Mk VII and Mk VIII, but they would take far too long to become operational. Fortunately, Rolls-Royce had experimented with fitting a Merlin 60 engine in their test-bed Spitfire in September 1941 and the increase in performance over the Mk V was significant. The Air Ministry took the decision to marry the tried-and-tested Mk V airframe with the new Merlin to bypass the delays in perfecting a new airframe and get a better Spitfire operational as soon as possible. The Spitfire Mk IX entered service nine months later, in June 1942 and went on to become, in the eyes of many pilots, the best of the breed.