Spitfire’s Forgotten Designer


Spitfire’s Forgotten Designer:

The Career Of Supermarine’s Joe Smith

Mike Roussel

Foreword by Captain Eric (Winkle) Brown

Published by The History Press April 2013, £19.99 Paperback Original

The vital leadership of Chief Designer Joe Smith on the development of the Spitfire in the Second World War and post-war jet aircraft

Whenever the Spitfire is mentioned the name of its famous designer R.J. Mitchell comes to mind. However, Mitchell died in June 1937 and never saw his prototype design progress into becoming one of the most famous fighter aircraft of the Second World War. Working under Mitchell as chief draughtsman was Joe Smith who was greatly involved with the early design of the Spitfire. After Mitchell’s death, Smith first became manager of the design department, and then chief designer.

Spitfire’s Forgotten Designer is the story of Joe Smith’s drive, boundless energy and dogged determination to develop the Spitfire to meet any threat thrown at Britain by the Luftwaffe, and of his post-war work on the jet aircraft until his death in 1956. His dedication and leadership of the design team are demonstrated through the eyes, not only of those that worked closely with him but also of post-war apprentices, who have shared some interesting and often humorous anecdotes.

  • Highlights the role of Chief Designer Joe Smith on the development of the Spitfire in the Second World War.
  • Looks at how the team grew from small beginnings and the development of the company through to the 1930s when the prototype Spitfire flew for the first time.
  • Illustrations include a selection of previously unpublished photographs from the Solent Sky Aviation Museum archives and the friends and families of Supermarine employees.

Mike Roussel has written two books on Southampton’s maritime history as well as co-authoring Shipwrecks of the Cunard Line for The History Press. As an active supporter of Solent Sky Aviation Museum, he has spent a lot of time working alongside the archive staff and conducting his research in aviation heritage. He lives near Southampton.