On the 27th of April, 1944; Squadron Leader Anthony F Martindale took off on a very unique mission. To put his Mark XI Spitfire through the wringer and find her true top speed. The Spitfire, who’s beauty and proclivity for speed were well known, had already been put through her paces by Squadron Leader J R Tobin, who had reached an amazing 606mph, or Mach .89, the fastest speed any Spitfire had ever flown…
As Squadron Leader Martindale reached his desired altitude, he pushed the nose of his elliptical winged beauty into a 45 degree dive, and watched the airspeed indicator steadily rise.
While his Spitfire continued its dive, without warning, the reduction gearing failed, allowing his propeller to quickly overspeed, tearing itself away from the now screaming fast Spitfire.
Freed of the weight of the massive propeller in front, the unchained Spitfire’s nose rose as the centre of gravity quickly slipped towards the rear of the now super clean fighter plane, commencing her climb at such a rate, and high load of Gs that it quickly rendered Squadron Leader Martindale unconscious for the remainder of the Spitfire’s high speed run.
Squadron Leader Anthony F Martindale awoke at an altitude of 40,000 feet, to an aircraft with newly swept wings, and a streamlined nose section carved by the atmosphere itself. One thousand, one hundred and forty nine kilometres per hour, 620 miles per hour, or Mach 0.92 was the speed reached on that day. Now humbled by his trusty steed, Squadron Leader Anthony F Martindale quietly…oh so quietly, flew his Spitfire glider back to an uneventful landing back at base unscathed, and armed with a story to tell.