Aviation of World War II
From February 1944, Spitfire IX began to go to the Soviet Union. The first six nines arrived in Basra by City of Eastbourne. They were old, repaired cars. They went through Iraq and Iran and our northern ports. Then new planes began to arrive, directly from the factories. The deliveries of the Spitfires ended after the end of the war in Europe: the Sannitian arrived on June 12, 1945 in Molotovsk (Severodvinsk) with 53 nines on board.
In total, 1185 Spitfire IXs were imported into our country, of which 1183 are of the LF IX type (low-altitude version) and two HF IX (high-altitude). The HF and LF differed in engines, which were different modifications of the Merlin 60. The LF usually had 66 engines, and the HF - 70. The widespread opinion that the external sign of low-altitude machines was cut-off wingtips is erroneous. Not all Spitfire LF IXs had short endings. In addition, even fighters with "trimmed" wings were supplied with sets of normal wingtips. Later "nines" had a wider and sharpened top rudder and an additional gas tank in the fuselage. Aero-Vi dust filter, located on the carburetor intake pipe, became standard. Among the LF IXs in the spring of 1945, nine outwardly indistinguishable aircraft of the LF XVI modification with American Merlin 266 engines arrived. These engines were produced in the United States under a Rolls-Royce license by Packard and differed somewhat from the British prototype, first of all, by the configuration of other units ...
Spitfire IX of different variants have been thoroughly studied at the Air Force Research Institute. The first of them, the LF IX type, was tested there in September 1944. Tests showed that the nine with its powerful and high-altitude engine has a much higher service ceiling than all domestic production fighters. Even the LF confidently climbed 12,500 m, while the HF climbed to 13,100 m, which was 2,450 m more than the Yak-9U and 2,350 m more than the La-7. Spitfire IX surpassed these aircraft both in climb rate and in armament. The equipment available on the English aircraft also made it stand out for the better.
But at low and medium altitudes, the "nine" was seriously inferior to domestic fighters. For example, the La-7 lost as much as 100 km/h in speed at the ground. Therefore, the use of "Spitfires" at the front was deemed inappropriate. Most of them were sent to air defense regiments.
Since the summer of 1944, the LF IXC and LF IXE received the 26th and 27th Guards regiments near Leningrad, the 16th and 177th regiments in the Moscow region, the 767th near Murmansk and many others. By the end of 1944, there were already 297 nines in our air defense system. There is practically no information about any combat use of IX Spitfires in the Soviet Union. Only one combat episode is known. On March 8, 1945, near Leningrad, pilots V. Rybin and A. Fedotov (from the 11th and 102nd Guards Regiments) on Spitfire LF IX intercepted and shot down a German Ju88 reconnaissance aircraft walking at high altitude. The downed plane belonged to one of the latest modifications (S or T), which had power-boosting devices on the motors. For other types of fighters, this Junkers was invulnerable.
One of the disadvantages of the Spitfire IX as an interceptor was its lack of navigation and target acquisition capabilities in poor visibility conditions. At the end of the war, in the 26th Guards Air Defense Aviation Regiment, the RD-1 television system was installed on two machines. On its screen in the cockpit of the fighter, an image was transmitted from the tube of a ground-based radar station, with a map of the terrain. The regiment commander, Lieutenant Colonel V. Matsievich and Captain N. Shcherbina, flew on these aircraft, but they did not have a single case of possible interception and attack.
In connection with the presence of a large number of Spitfire fighters near Leningrad, one of the aircraft depots manufactured there a double training version of this machine - the Spitfire IX UTI. The Spitfire IXV was also made by workshops in Tbilisi. A number of "nines" ended up in naval aviation, in particular in the Black Sea Fleet Air Force.
Although the Spitfire did not leave a noticeable mark on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, however, at the end of it and in the first post-war years, it became indispensable as a high-altitude air defense interceptor.