Rotol Spitfire Propeller Blade, Constant-Speed, Wood and Metal


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The famous British Supermarine Spitfire used various propellers during its early service. Rotol Airscrews, Ltd was formed in 1937 as a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Bristol. The name, a combination of “Rolls-Royce” and “Bristol,” was suggested by the wife of a Bristol employee being transferred to the new enterprise. This Rotol propeller blade was likely manufactured by Jablo Propeller, a small wood blade company.

A British shortage of duralumin material during World War II led to application of the Schwarz process, where special machinery pressed a hard metal mesh coating and cellulose sheet over the entire propeller primarily consisting of soft wood, usually pine or fir, to produce very hard composite wood blades.

In the post-war period, with the metal material shortage ended, so did application of wood blades for the Spitfire. In 1958 Bristol and Rolls-Royce sold Rotol to the Dowty Group. Today Dowty Rotol is one of the world’s leading propeller manufacturers.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Physical Description

  • Type: Three-Blade, Constant-Speed, Wood and Metal
  • Diameter: 320 cm (126 in.)
  • Chord: 26.7 cm (10.5 in.)
  • Engine Application: Rolls-Royce Merlin

Credit Line

Transferred from the U.S. Air Force

Country of Origin

United Kingdom


  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Paint
  • Steel
  • Rubber
  • Copper Alloy
  • Fabric


  • 3-D: 160 x 26.7 x 17.1cm (63 x 10 1/2 x 6 3/4 in.)
  • Storage: 201.9 x 66.7 x 52.7cm (79 1/2 x 26 1/4 x 20 3/4 in.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


PROPULSION-Propellers & Impellers

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