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.