RAF Spitfire airplane model. Without doubt the best known British aircraft of World War II, the Spitfire prototype flew for the first time on March 5, 1936. Comparatively little flight testing was needed to confirm this airplane as a winner, due to its superb handling qualities and performance. Deliveries of the airplane began in July, 1938. On October 16, 1939, a Spitfire claimed the first German aircraft to be destroyed over the UK. By 1942 Supermarine Spitfires were operational in the Middle East, and by early 1943 the first Spitfires were arriving in the Pacific Theater. In growing numbers, and with increasing capability, the Spitfire served throughout World War II, not only with the RAF, but with the nation's allies, including US and Soviet squadrons. This airplane also had the distinction of remaining in production throughout World War II and was operational postwar, the last mission flown by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire on April 1954. There were a total of 20,334 Spitfires built.