An instructional film, with a clear and logical commentary allied with close up photography of the cockpit drill necessary to ensure safe and successful flying of the Spitfire Mk V. The drill has evolved over the years of experience and the importance of a rigid procedure by the pilot cannot be over-emphasised. Ground crew are equally involved, developing a teamwork approach with the pilot.
Reel one: Film opens with pilot walking towards his Spitfire parked on the airfield [Although the focus of the film is the Mk V Spitfire, the Spitfire featured in this film is a Mk 1, X4622, struck off charge in December 1944. This film was produced in 1947 so filming must have taken place prior to December 1944] The pilot then proceeds with a personal visual check of all exterior mechanical items, and scans the dispersal area for debris or unnecessary ancillary hardware before climbing aboard. The pilot completes his preliminary checks, puts on his flying gear assisted by two airmen, and together they check the harness, helmet, parachute and other items, following a well established routine. The airmen stand to one side as the pilot continues his prescribed checks of the engine components, flaps, ailerons, elevator and rudder for free movement. The engine is started, and the various gauges and dials monitored as it warms up. Satisfied, the pilot completes his cockpit drill, orders the external starter battery removed, chocks away and dismisses the ground crew. When clear of the Spitfire, and the dispersal area is clear, the ground crew indicate to the pilot he may taxy forward.
Reel two: Spitfire taxis out to runway, stops cross wind and goes through the drill of vital actions encapsulated in the mnemonic "T M P, fuel, flaps, radiator" memorised by the pilot: T trimming tabs, M mixture control, P pitch. The commentator explains these in detail, together with their initial settings made by the pilot. Additional pre-flight settings include the navigational aides: set compass and synchronise directional gyro, altimeter. Checks complete, the Spitfire taxis forward, turns into the wind at the beginning of the runway and takes off. When airborne, retract the under-carriage, check the electrical and mechanical confirmatory indicators are active, and once a speed of 140 mph has been attained, increase the speed and climb. Film cuts to Spitfire climbing away into the cloud.
The preliminary approach is made at a speed of 140 mph, as the pilot prepares to land observing the drill of vital actions encapsulated in another mnemonic "U M P, flaps, radiator" U under-carriage down, M mixture control, P propeller speed. As before a detailed explanations are given together with their initial settings made by the pilot. If the under-carriage fails to descend, this may be rectified by diving or even inverting the Spitfire whilst pressing the release lever thus momentarily relieving the load on the locking pins. Under-carriage down, the pilot monitors and corrects if necessary the parameters for landing, reducing the speed to 85 mph as he makes the final approach, opens cockpit hood and lands. Raise the flaps and taxy to dispersal, run engine at 800 rpm for a few seconds, stop engine with the slow running cut-out, switch off fuel, ignition and all electrical equipment.
The film has shown a sequence of events known as cockpit drill: prior to take off, the take off, coming into land, and action after landing. Other marks of Spitfire have minor modifications but the general sequence is the same for all.