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Reginald Joseph Mitchell, born at Stoke-on-Trent, England, May 20, 1895, manifested an early interest in his life's work when, while still in high school, he designed and built model airplanes without benefit of plans or instructions. His vivid imagination, flair for the artistic, and his excellence in mathematics were honed in these formative years.
In 1916, after a five-year apprenticeship with a locomotive works, Mitchell joined Supermarine Aviation Works limited, in Southampton. He was promoted to Chief Designer and Chief Engineer at age twenty-five.
After World War I, Supermarine returned to the manufacture of commercial flying boats, but also set for itself the goal of winning the Schneider Trophy for Britain. During the succeeding years Mitchell's design team produced consistent winners culminating in the beautiful S.6B which retired the trophy outright in 1931 and set a world speed record of 407.5 mph.
Subsequently, Mitchell and Supermarine returned to the production of flying boats. Two of these, the Walrus and the Strantraer became the backbone of the Royal Air Force's air-sea rescue and maritime reconnaissance services.
Without question, Mitchell's crowning achievement was the marriage of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine with his most aesthetically elegant airframe, the Spitfire, one of World War II's deadliest fighter aircraft.
On June 11, 1937, Mitchell succumbed to a long illness. In the years from 1920 to 1936, he designed no less than twenty-four different aircraft.
Invested 1986 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
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Updated: March 12, 2004