51cm x 41cm
Who would not agree, that the photo-reconnaissance squadrons in WWII, on any side, had very different kind of pilots, fighting in a very different way. The stories of them tell of a different kind of skill, using their aircraft to obtain the information that helps plan what the main force does, whether it is land, sea or air.
The Spitfire XI was an extremely good tool to achieve this. The two-stage, two-speed supercharged Merlin engine gave speed and height, while the extra fuel carried by PR Spit's in extra tanks behind the pilot and in the inboard wing leading edges offered exceptional range. The MkXI also had the ability to carry an easily adaptable choice of cameras, to suit the job on that day.
However, the aircraft, no matter how efficient, cannot do the job by itself. The pilot has to navigate to and from the target area. He has to assess and make decisions about weather. He must be able to fly a good “pattern”, if he has to cover a large area with many overlapping photographs. And not least, he has to get those photographs home safely for another team to analyze and interpret, against the wishes of the enemy, nearly always unarmed and at high altitude.
Who would not agree, a very tough but important task?