The Supermarine Spitfire was designed by R J Mitchell, powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The first prototype took off from Southampton Airport on the 5th of March 1936. The first Spitfire Mk 1 flew on 14th of May 1938.The prototype was fitted with a 990hp Merlin engine and achieved a speed of nearly 350mph in level flight. The first Spitfires were armed with 303 machine guns, later models were fitted with 20mm canons and 303’s. later in the war some were armed with the 20mm canons and .50 cal machine guns. The Merlin engine reached a power output of 1,700hp before being replaced by the larger Rolls Royce Griffon engine, which produced over 2,000hp. The Supermarine Spitfire had a maximum speed of 448 mph with a service ceiling of 43,000 feet. Built by Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd at the factory in Woolston, Southampton. The manufacturing of Spitfires also took place at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. Many other places around Britain were also involved in the manufacturing of the aircraft.