REGINALD JOSEPH MITCHELL C.B.E. - 20th May, 1895 to 11th June, 1937
Reginald Joseph Mitchell was born in the village of Talke, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire England.
After leaving Hanley High School in 1910 at the age of 16 he gained an apprenticeship at a locomotive engineering works, Kerr Stewart & Co of Fenton,
When Mitchell had completed his apprenticeship he progressed to a job in the drawing office at Kerr Stewart while he attended night classes at technical colleges studying mathematics and engineering.
All his hard work paid off and In 1917 he secured a position at the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton and in the following year he was appointed Supermarine's Chief Designer he remained with the company the rest of his life.
As the company name suggests they were primarily interested in marine design and between 1922 and 1931 he designed seaplanes, used largely for racing particularly for the Schneider Trophy, including Supermarine's S6B and the Supermarine Walrus.
The S6B won the Schneider Trophy in 1931.
The success of the S6B prompted the Air Ministry to invite Mitchell to tender for the design of a new fighter aircraft for the RAF.
This was designated the F7/30 by the Air Ministry and Mitchell submitted his Type 224 design on the 20th February, 1932.
In 1933 he was authorized to proceed with the design of his all-metal low wing monoplane that was destined to become the Spitfire.
It was later in the same year that he underwent major surgery to treat abdominal cancer and this was to have a profound effect upon his life.
The year after his operation he went to Germany as part of his convalescence.
What he saw during his visit to Nazis Germany convinced him of the importance of his work on the Spitfire in the face of National Socialism and Germany's re-armament.
On his return to England Mitchell worked feverishly not only on the Spitfire but also the Type 317, a four-engined bomber.
The first prototype of the Spitfire design, the Type 224, which Mitchell referred to it as "The Shrew", flew for the first time on the 19th February 1934.
However he felt its performance was unsatisfactory so he immediately began work on the Type 300
The Type 300 fitted with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, spitting fire, made its first fight on the 5th March, 1936 at Eastleigh in Hampshire.
After returning from a short stay at the American Foundation in Vienna R.J. Mitchell sadly died from abdominal cancer on the 11th June 1937 at his home in Southampton.
Mitchell who saw his Spitfire prototype fly never got to see it put into service with the Royal Air Force where it was first adorned with the red white and blue roundels in1938.
R.J Mitchell was a brilliant aeronautical engineer who sacrificed his own life and endured dreadful pain in order to complete his work on what he preferred to call "the Shrew which we all now as the Spitfire.
Now while the Spitfire did not single handedly win the Second World War or even the Battle of Britain it was however a vital piece of the puzzle that made up the Countries defenses and without it the nation would probably not have held out against the might of the Nazis invaders.