Click Here To Go To The Mirrorsoft Archive


Cover Art

Spitfire '40

Spitfire '40

Spitfire '40

"Although the plane handles well and the thrill of navigation, enemy engagement and combat is present, the game somehow doesn't quite come together."
A&B Computing

"A reasonable arcade game. The idea of working your way up the ranks adds extra interest which just about makes up for its severe limitations in other areas."
Acorn User

"I enjoyed playing this for short periods, but it isn't one of those I would automatically reach for when sitting down for a gaming session."
Electron User

"Half the fun and half the skill of Spitfire '40 is the landing which is very difficult but, once mastered, really improves the game."
Electron User Group

"I enjoyed playing this for short periods, but it isn't one of those I would automatically reach for when sitting down for a gaming session."
The Micro User


SPITFIRE 40 is not only the closest you're likely to come to flying one of the most famous aircraft of all time - it's a spectacular wartime adventure as well.

As a young Spitfire pilot in 1940, you'll be trained in the techniques required to fly a Spitfire. You'll be able to practise your combat skills, before going on missions in full combat mode - the real thing. A full demonstration of the Spitfire's features, and the type of mission you'll be sent on is also included on the disk.

Once you've mastered the controls and can fly the Spitfire with confidence, you can take to the skies for a dogfight with the enemy. Get the most of the aircraft's authentic looping and rolling capabilities to outwit your opponents, and manoeuvre your way to dominance of the air.

You can save all your practice and combat experiences, allowing you to rise through the ranks of the RAF to the coveted position of Group Captain, DSO DFC VC.

Your personal pilot's log is included with the program, together with a keyboard guide and quick reference flight checklist.

The Best Thing Since The Real Thing...

'SPITFIRE 40 is a graphically excellent game' - Computer & Video Games
'Flying the Mirrorsoft Spitfire is a joy' - Commodore User
'The best simulation in years' - Crash


SPITFIRE 40 is not only the closest you're likely to come to flying one of the most famous aircraft of all times - it's a spectacular war-time adventure too.

Picture the scene - it is the Summer of 1940 and you are a newly trained pilot, posted to a Spitfire Squadron in South East England.

Like so many of those young men in 1940, you will learn that a Spitfire is no ordinary place. You will discover its special capabilities and, most importantly of all, how to handle it in combat. As you learn, you can save your growing experience to tape or disk. With practice and your increasing skill, you can rise through the ranks, gaining medals, to reach for the highest accolade - to achieve the rank of Group Captain and the coveted VC, DSO and DFC medals.

SPITFIRE 40 gives you not just valuable experience in the principles and techniques of flight combat; it's a lot of fun, too!

Loading And Game Controls

When the program has loaded, you will be asked to load:


Use the joystick and fire button to make your selection. For convenience this manual refers only to joystick controls. The keyboard altenatives are listed below:

: - Joystick up, / - Joystick down, A - Joystick left, S - Joystick right SPACE - Fire

See the separate keysheet for a summary of all the keys used during the game. See also keysheet for loading a saved log.

A list of pilots' names on the flight log will appear. Choose your pilot by moving the joystick up or down, then press fire.

The logbook for the pilot you have selected is displayed, including rank, medals, flying hours and victories.

Press fire again and you will see a menu of flight modes:


Use joystick and fire to make your selection.


This option puts you into the cockpit at the take off point on the runway to enable to practise flying your Spitfire before you head off into combat. If you can then land successfully on a runway, you can save your log on tape or disk to start building up your experience. To save, follow the on-screen instructions, then press FIRE. You should read the flying and landing notes throughly first.


This mode is the heart of the program. On selection, you will be given your mission instructions, for example:

  ENEMY 3 (number of aircraft)
  INTERCEPT 14 (distance in miles)
  BEARING 200 (bearing from the runway)
  HEIGHT 6000 (enemy height)

Now you must take off and engage the enemy in combat. The enemy will remain at roughly the height first given in the instructions. If you are successful and return safely to a runway, you can save your combat record to build your record.

Combat Practice

The purpose of this option is to enable you to gain some elementary experience in handling the Spitfire in combat. You will find yourself at 10,000 feet with enemy aircraft coming at you in frontal attacks. Practise following and firing at them, allowing for deflection shooting which requires you to judge where the enemy will be by the time your bullets have reached the target.

Your successes in combat practice are not recorded and you can return to the main menu by pressing RETURN or by crashing.

Instrument Panel

Clockwise from the upper left, the instruments are:

Fuel Gauge - Indicates the amount of fuel remaining. You start with enough for 45 minutes' flying.
Airspeed Indicator - Indicates speed in units of 100 mph.
Artificial Horizon - Represents the plane's altitude in relation to the true horizon, with black for the sky and white for the ground.
Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI) - Represents vertical speed and movement at intervals of 1,000 feet per minute in the climb or descent section.
Engine Rev. Indicator - Indicates engine speed in 100s of revolutions per minute.
Slip And Turn Indicator - The top needle represents sideways movement through the air (slip). The bottom one measures the rate of turn; the more displaced the needle, the higher the rate of turn.
Compass - Indicates compass heading.
Altimeter - Indicates height above the ground. The large needle shows 100s of feet, the small one 1,000s of feet.

The instrument panel on your screen is a faithful reproduction of that in the original Spitfire. However, two instruments have been added for ease of use.

Rudder Indicator - Shows the position of the rudder.
Pitch Indicator - Represents a sideways view of the Spitfire. Although this duplicates part of the function of the artificial horizon, it does assist orientation when diving or climbing steeply.


The forward and backward movement of the joystick controls the Spitfire's elevators. Pulling the joystick backwards will raise the aircraft's nose; pushing the joystick back lowers it. This is known as altering the pitch of the aircraft. The sideways movement of the joystick controls the ailerons, which in turn will make the Spitfire roll or bank to the left or right. A secondary effect of rolling is that it causes the aircraft to turn and change direction. The joystick fire button activates the eight Browning machine guns mounted in the wings.

You should be aware that there is an inevitable time lag between moving the joystick and reaction of the aircraft, particularly when applying an opposite correction such as reversing the joystick when rolling the aircraft back to straight and level flight after completing a turn.

Keyboard Alternatives To Joystick Controls
Ailerons <A> <S>
Roll and bank the Spitfire left/right. A secondary effect is to make the aircraft turn and change direction.

Elevators <:> </>
Raise/lower the aircraft's nose to alter the pitch.

Fire <SPACE>
To activate the wing-mounted machine guns.

Keyboard Instrument Controls
Throttle <Q> <W>
Increases/decreases power; exact level can be gauged from the engine speed indicator on the instrument panel.

Rudder <Z> <X>
Turns the rudder left/right; exact position of the rudder is shown on the instrument panel. After applying rudder, the first press of the opposite rudder key initially centralises the rudder. This additional feature is particularly useful when there is no time to make a visual check.

Flaps <F>
Toggles flaps up or down; current position is indicated on the instrument panel by the letters U and D. Putting the flaps down lowers the stalling speed of the aircraft; they should not be lowered at speeds above 140 mph.

Undercarriage/Gear <G>
Toggles the undercarriage up or down; the current position is indicated on the instrument panel (black for up, green for down). You should not attempt to fly with the undercarriage down at speeds much above 160 mph.

Aircraft Controls

Brakes <B>
Toggles the brakes on or off; the current position is indicated on the instrument panel (green for off, black for on).

Map <M>
Toggles the map screen on or off; the map is a representation of South East of England. A white aircraft symbol indicates your current position and a black aircraft symbol shows the position of the enemy. The three squares represent areas which can be examined in greater detail (see below). Looking at the map also has the effect of freezing the simulation and can therefore be used as a pause key.

Expanding the Map <N>
If the Spitfire is within one of the three squares, press <N> to show the current detail. Further keypresses will first expand the area and then contract it. Ground detail is shown in a position relative to the Spitfire's current heading.

Sound <CTRL>
Toggles the sound effects on and off.

Handling And Flying

Taking Off
If you have chosen Practice or Combat mode, the Spitfire will be positioned on the runway ready for take-off.


  • Flaps up
  • Push throttle to give power of 2,000 rpm
  • Brakes off
  • Increase power to maximum rpm
  • As speed reaches 100 mph, ease back gently on the joystick
  • When the Spitfire lifts off, retract the undercarriage
  • Check that the instrument panel indicator is black
  • Do not attempt a steep climb until the speed is over 140 mph
  • After completing the climb, reduce power to around 3,000 rpm for cruising speed and level flight


The rate at which the Spitfire climbs is shown on the VSI. This rate is controlled by the power of the engine and the angle of climb.

The optimum rate of climb for this type of Spitfire was 185 mph at approximately 2,850 rpm, giving 2,500 feet per minute. At this altitude you will not be able to see the horizon out of the cockpit. The ceiling height for this aircraft was approximately 35,000 feet.

Experiment with altitudes and power settings to gain experience. If you attempt too steep a climb with insufficient power, the speed will drop until a stall occurs.

The Stall

The stalling speed of the Spitfire is 75 mph with the undercarriage and flaps up and 65 mph with them down. Remember that if the aircraft is too close to the ground, the consequent loss of altitude will cause a crash. If you have the sound control on, you will hear a warning that the aircraft is approaching stalling speed.

Straight And Level Flight

Straight and level flight is achieved with the wings horizontal and the VSI at zero. Level flight is achieved by adjusting the aircraft's altitude first, and when level, adjusting the speed using the throttle. Practise flying at various speeds, comparing the actual horizon with the artificial horizon. As power is increased, the Spitfire's nose will tend to rise; with a reduction of power, it will drop. This can be compensated for with the joystick.

Zooming around at maximum power, however tempting, is not recommended if you want to succeed as a Spitfire pilot. The optimum cruising speed is approximately 200 mph, but check this out: Remember, there is only a limited amount of fuel for each sortie.


You may find yourself in a full power vertical dive during aerobatics or combat, and pulling back on the joystick will have no effect. Reduce power and you will return that control will return to the joystick.


The direction of flight can be changed by banking the aircraft with the joystick. The Spitfire will remain at a fixed angle of bank when the joystick is released, and the rate at which the aircraft turns is dependent on the angle of the bank. The turn can also be tightened by using the appropriate rudder at the same time. The nose tends to drop in a turn; this can be corrected by easing the joystick back slightly.

The aircraft can be returned to level flight by applying the opposite joystick movement, At first, you may find there is a tendency to apply too much opposite joystick and the aircraft will end up banked in the opposite direction. It is vital during combat to learn to anticipate the movement of the aircraft and small repeated movements of the joystick are far more effective than one large movement.

The direction of the aircraft can also be changed in level flight by using the rudder alone. However, as the wings are level, this also has the adverse effect of skidding the aircraft sideways in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, careful use of the rudder alone can be helpful in certain situations, particularly during an approach to landing.


It is possible for the Spitfire to slip sideways and lose height whilst maintaining a constant heading. To check out this feature, fly the Spitfire at a safe height and watch the instrument panel closely. Put the Spitfire into a left turn, then apply right rudder until the compass stops moving. If you look at the slip and turn indicator, you will see that the turn needle is in the neutral position and the slip needle is to the left.


The recommended procedure for landing a Spitfire was to start the approach by reducing speed to 140 mph and lowering gear and flaps. The last part of the approach was made at a speed of 90 mph, descending at 1,000 feet per minute. Just before landing, the joystick was eased back to bring the craft level, and the throttle reduced.

But, as usual, practice is more difficult than theory, and landing is one of the trickiest parts in flying the Spitfire.

There are three main principles to stick to:

  • Hold the speed at 90-100 mph at a constant rate of descent,
  • Position the Spitfire on the approach path to the runway, and
  • Reach the start of the runway at a height just above zero.


Try the following exercises to develop your landing skills:
Climb to 5,000 feet and cruise at 200 mph. Reduce power and hence speed. (Raising the nose slightly will drop your speed quickly.) Lower the undercarriage and flaps. When the speed drops to around 100 mph, adjust the throttle and nose altitude so that constant speed is maintained and the VSI reads 1,000 feet per minute. The power setting should be around 600 rpm. Note the position of the horizon against the cockpit. Level out at a predetermined height and maintain speed and altitude. If you find difficulty in raising the nose despite pulling back on the joystick, a quick burst of power will help.

The next stage is to practise flying the Spitfire so that you are lined up on runway and flying over it a predetermined height. Approach the runway from a distance so that you have plenty of time to alter your approach. As you gain experience, you will learn to use ground objects as reference points to turn into the approach. These are wind effects in the program to worry about. The accepted practice in landing was to fly parallel to the runway in the opposite direction to your final approach, allowing you to turn through 180 degrees and line up for the final approach. Very gentle use of the rudder will assist in achieving the correct line.

The final stage in the early stages, the program is forgiving of errors in landing. However, as your experience and performance records builds up, your skill must increase accordingly or you may crash when landing.

You can land away from runways, and take off again, but your experience and additional flying hours are not logged unless you land on a runway.

It is assumed in this simulation that there is haze in the sky and ground detail disappears above 3,000 feet.


As an exercise in navigation, you may find it useful to fly over the areas and draw the maps, entering the relevant distance and bearings between objects. After combat, this information could be crucial in getting back safely.


The procedure for entering combat mode has already been explained. It is important, however, to understand something of the air combat techniques that were relevant in 1940.

There were four golden rules in air combat:

  • Climb quickly to give yourself a height advantage in attack. This enabled the pilot to climb away after an attack, as the speed gained in diving could be translated into momentum to regain height.
  • Never fly straight and level in the combat zone for more than a few seconds - weave about as much as poissible. This increased the areas of the sky observed and made the Spitfire a moving rather than a stationary target. The key was to watch your mirror constantly.
  • In reality, attacks usually came from the rear and at an angle. To evade these, it was necessary to turn as sharply as possible towards the direction of attack, increasing speed if possible. Turning in the opposite direction would place the defender in a stationary position in relation to the attacker. More often than not, air combat ended up as a dogfight with two aircraft trying to out-turn each other in ever-tightening circles, inevitably reducing height. Maintaining accurate turns was therefore a vital factor.
  • Another method of escaping attack was to dive away. In 1940, this was an option open to the enemy fighters but not to the Spitfire. In the Spitfire, pushing the nose forward caused the engine to cut (under negative G) and valuable seconds were lost, whereas enemy fighters did not suffer this problem. This is the reasons why films of the period will show Spitfires rolling on their backs before diving (hence maintaining positive G). Fortunately, such problems do not occur in this simulation.

Simulation Combat

The key rules of air combat have been built into this simulation:

If you are under attack from behind, the enemy aircraft will appear in the mirror. Try to increase speed to escape and turn as sharply as possible. Use the rudder to indice slip or skid.

If you lose contact with the enemy during combat, you should get back to the height of the original comtact and check your map. In keeping with one of the key rules, a climbing turn is the preferred method for regaining height.

There is a much higher chance of hitting an enemy aircraft, the closer you are to it.

If you manage to shoot some or all of the enemy aircraft down, you can return to a runway and, on landing safely, save your latest status.


A number of interesting aerobatic manoeuvres can be carried out in this simulation. For example:


At a speed of 250 mph at full power, ease the joystick back gently. As you invert, reduce power and continue easing back the joystick until you are flying straight and level. Reapply power to come out of the loop.

Loop With Roll Off The Top

Start as for a loop. When you are inverted at the top of the climb, roll the plane left or right until you are level. Use the joystick to keep the nose at a fixed position on the horizon as you roll out. You can use this manoeuvre to escape an enemy, gain height and reverse direction.


Raise the Spitfire's nose slightly above the horizon. Apply left or right joystick. Keep rolling until the Spitfire is again straight and level. Practise using the joystick to roll the plane whilst keeping the nose pointed at a fixed part of the scenery. Applying opposite rudder assists in keeping a constant heading.


Roll over until the Spitfire is inverted. Then pull the joystick back until the horizon appears and you are flying level. You will have lost height and revered your direction.

The Theory Of Flight

This complex subject cannot be fully dealt with here, but it is necessary for you to understand the basic principles so that you may be better able to fly this simulation.

Aircraft designers shape the top of a wing like the back of a spoon so that the air passing under a wing is slowed and pushed down as it hits the underside. This is the opposite of what is happening above the wing, so the rising pressure pushes the wing up. Suction above and pressure below creates lift. When this lifting force is greater than the weight of the aircraft, it will leave the ground. Lift and weight are two of the forces which act upon an aircraft; the others are thrust and drag. To accelerate to a speed at which lift can overcome weight, a powered aircraft needs an engine to provide thrust. Just as lift must overcome weight, thrust must overcome the resistance of the air to the aircraft moving through it. This is the drag, which can be reduced by streamlining the shape with the undercarriage and flaps.

In addition, the most important criteria for a fighter like the Spitfire are manoeuverability, spped, and instability. Speed and manoeuverability are obvious requirements for such an aircraft, but instability needs a little explanation. Stability in an agile fighter would spell disaster because, when attacked from out of the blue, the fighter pilot needs his aircraft to react immediately. So the designers built instability into the plane; it's harder to keep them straight and level than to throw them around all over the sky.

Historical Background

The Supermarine Spitfire is, perhaps, the most famous aeroplae ever built - both a legend in its own time and a most beautiful machine. But your chance to fly this tremendous craft is only a part of the whole story.

Conceived by R.J.Mitchell in 1925, the Spitfire was far in advance of the technology then available. It was not until 1936, when Rolls Royce developed the Merlin engine and a second World War was feared, that the impetus was there to turn the idea into a prototype aircraft.

The first flight was in March 1936, revealing a revolutionary aircraft design with a top speed of 350 mph and superb manoeuverability, two factors which are the crux of all fighter design.

By the outbreak of the Second World War, a total of 2,160 Spitfires were on order and on october 16 the first combat took place over Scotland. Then, in May 1940, the Germans pushed strongly towards the Low Countries and France, and the RAF retreated further until the final withdrawal from Dunkerque. Britain was alone, facing the most successful fighting machine since the Roman Empire across just 21 miles of sea.

Hitler was well aware of the importance of superiority in the air. He was convinced by the Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, that his pilots and machines would soon gain a decisive victory over the Royal Air Force, which the Luftwaffe outnumbered three to one.

The average age of a wartime Spitfire pilot was twenty, and some went to operational squadrons with as little as ten flying hours to their credit. Despite this, the Battle of Britain was won by three means: technology, spirit and, paradoxically, mistakes.

The advanced technology of the Spitfire enabled the RAF to arrest attacks - radar assisted in accurate interceptions being made. The spirit of the young pilots is legendary. German mistakes were the result of bad intelligence reports and an underestimation of the British resolve. Once the Germans altered their tactics to bombing civilian targets in the Blitz, the Battle was won.

The Spitfire continued as a front line fighter in the RAF until the advent of a jet-propelled aircraft. Over 20,000 were built, and a number are still flown today.

The legend of the Spitfire will live forever.


The publishers of this program would like to thank Michael Fopp and the Battle of Britain Museum for assistance and advice during development.

There are three Spitfires on display at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, including the earliest surviving MkI aircraft and the postwar Mk24 version. Entry to the RAF Museum is FREE.

Flight Checklist

Take Off

  1. Brakes off
  2. Engine revs at 3,400 rpm
  3. Lift off at 90 mph
  4. Retract gear

Landing Approach

  1. Reduce speed to 140 mph
  2. Lower flaps and gear
  3. Final approach between 80 mph and 100 mph

Optimum Climb
Varies with height
200 mph at 2,850 rpm giving 2,500 ft per minute

Optimum Cruise
200 mph at 1,900 rpm
Level flight is achievable between speeds of 90 mph and 350 mph

Flying Limits

STALL - Approx. 65 mph with gear and flaps down
DIVING - 450 mph
LOOP - Enter with a speed of greater than 250 mph
ROLL - Between 180 mph and 300 mph. Nose just above horizon. Higher speed for an upward roll
CEILING - 35,000 ft

Out Of Control And Disorientated

  1. Reduce power
  2. Apply joystick in opposite direction to turn indicator
  3. If appropriate, apply rudder in direction of slip indicator. Centralise when indicator at zero
  4. Ease back on joystick if in a dive

Keyboard Controls At A Glance

Joystick up ............................. :
Joystick down ........................... /
Joystick left ........................... A
Joystick right .......................... S
Fire .............................. <SPACE>
Left rudder ............................. Z
Right rudder ............................ X
Increase power .......................... Q
Decrease power .......................... W
Flaps ................................... F
Gear up/down ............................ G
Brakes on/off ........................... B
Map ..................................... M
Expand map .............................. N
Sound .............................. <CTRL>
Main menu ........................ <ESCAPE>

Loading/Saving Your Log

Insert a new tape and follow the on-screen instructions.


Cover Art Language(s): English
Compatibility: BBC Model B, BBC Model B+, BBC Master 128, Acorn Electron
Release: Professionally released On Cassette
Original Release Date: 1st Feb 1988
Links: Everygamegoing,

Cover Art

Back Inlay Images

Inner Inlay Images

Media Scan Images



Spitfire '40 (Cassette)
Spitfire '40 (5.25" Disc)