An Aviation Wonder And Its Creator

An Aviation Wonder And Its Creator: IELTS Academic Reading Sample Question

The passage contains following question types from IELTS Reading Question Types:

  • Complete the sentences.
  • Matching headings
  • Matching information

An Aviation Wonder And Its Creator

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1 – 14 which are based on Reading Passage below.

A. The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seater fighter plane used by the British Royal Airforce and pilots from a number of the country’s allies during the Second World War. The first flight of a Spitfire  prototype was on 5 March 1936 and usage of the plane continued until the 1950s. It was said to be one of the most effective fighter planes available during that period and was produced by Vickers-Armstrongs, a British engineering corporation which was formed in 1927 as a result of the merger of Vickers Limited and Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Company.

B. The Spitfire was designed by aeronautical engineer Reginald Joseph Mitchell. His career began when he joined a locomotives engineering company in 1911 at the age of 16. However, in 1917 he moved from his hometown to join the Supermarine Aviation works in Southampton and was promoted to Chief Designer within his first year of employment. By the time the company was taken over by Vickers-Armstrongs in 1928, Mitchell had held the post of Technical Director for a year; and his capabilities and contributions were deemed so significant Vickers-Armstrong made his continual employment for a five year period a condition of the purchase of the company.

C. In the fifteen years prior to 1936 Mitchell designed 24 aircraft of differing categories including fighter planes, bombers and seaplanes. The first predecessor of the Spitfire in the fighter plane category to gain him national acclaim was the Supermarine S.B for which he won the Schneider Trophy (a cup and monetary award for technical advances in aviation which came to focus mainly on speed) in 1931. Despite withdrawal of financial support from the British Government that year, the Supermarine S.B. was able to compete for the Schneider Trophy as a result of a private donation of 100,000 pounds. Mitchell’s team won outright on September 13th their aircraft achieving a new world speed record of 606 km/h; within days the Supermarine S.B. went on to break its own newly achieved record when on the 29th of the same month it became the first aircraft ever to achieve speeds of over 400 miles per hour (640 kilometres) when it reached 407.5 mph (640 kilometres per hour).

D. Reginald Joseph Mitchell was awarded a CBE in 1932 for his contributions to high speed flight. CBEs being awarded by the British Monarch and reserved to recognise individuals who have ‘fulfilled a conspicuous leading role in regional affairs, through achievement or service to the community, or making a highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity’. Mitchell’s achievements with the Supermarine S.B. also prompted the Air Ministry to contract his company for design of a new fighter aircraft, despite the organisation’s reputation being built predominantly on sea-plane and not fighter plane manufacturing.

E. The first type, the 224, was to prove unsuccessful and it was eventually rejected by the Royal Air Force due to unsatisfactory performance; however, private sponsorship enabled research, development and modifications which led to the creation of the Type 300 which would eventually become the Spitfire. Soon after the first flight of the Spitfire prototype (trial version) and prior to completion of all stages of its official trials, convinced by its potential, the British Royal Air Force ordered 310 models. With its smooth lines, load-bearing metal shell, and heavy eight-machine gun armament, the Spitfire was considered revolutionary. In 1938, the aircraft was first put into official service; however, Mitchell, who died from cancer in 1937 at the age of 42, was not to witness this or the extensive impact and longevity of use the aircraft would have. In total 20,351 spitfires of different versions were produced making it the most produced British aircraft of the Second World War. 

F. After Mitchell’s death, his former Chief Draughtsman Joe Smith took over the position of Technical Director and led the subsequent development of the Spitfire which would keep it at the forefront of aircraft technology while many other designs quickly became obsolete; 24 models of spitfire were designed along with many sub-variants containing different engine types and possessing different wing configurations; the most widely used being the Spitfire Mark V, of which 6,479 were built. The original version first used for active service in 1938 had a top speed of approximately 580 km per hour; while one of the last models used in the later stages of the Second World War – the Spitfire XIV – had a top speed capability of 710 km per hour. Spitfires were used continually by the Royal Air Force, later purely as surveillance planes (to monitor activity overhead though carrying no armament), until 1954 when the last model was retired.

G. In his home town, Reginald Joseph Mitchell C.B.E. is today remembered in a number of ways. A combined theatre and education centre ‘The Mitchell Memorial Theatre’ bears his name, and the city museum, at the entrance of which stands a bronze statue of Mitchell, displays an authentic and complete Spitfire as part of its collection. In addition, a local high school is named after him; as is a major roadway and he is locally recognised as one of the most significant historical sons of the town.

Questions 1 – 6

Complete the flowchart below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 1 and 6 on your answer sheet.

An Aviation Wonder And Its Creator

Questions 7 – 9

 According to the information in the passage, classify the following information as relating to:

A. the Supermarine SB
B. the Spitfire
C. neither the Supermarine SB or the Spitfire
D. both the Supermarine SB and the Spitfire

Write the correct letter, A, B, C or D in boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet.

7) Its development was commissioned by the Air Ministry

8) Mitchell was awarded the CBE due to its development.

9) It was innovative for its time.

Questions 10 – 14

Reading Passage has seven paragraphs A-G.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 10 – 14 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

10) where the Royal Air Force showed faith in Mitchell’s engineering capability without complete evidence

11) where Mitchell’s involvement influenced a business purchase

12) how Mitchell has been honoured since his death

13) details of specific differences between spitfire models

14) details of what differentiated the Spitfire from other alternatives

Answers for IELTS Reading Sample Question

1) Supermarine S.B.

Paragraph C: ‘The first predecessor of the Spitfire in the fighter plane category to gain him national acclaim was the Supermarine S.B’

2) 224

Paragraph E: ‘The first type, the 224, was to prove unsuccessful and it was eventually rejected by the Royal Air Force due to unsatisfactory performance’

3) private sponsorship

Paragraph E: ‘private sponsorship enabled research, development and modifications which led to the creation of the Type 300’

4) 1938

Paragraph E: ‘The British Royal Air Force ordered 310 models … In 1938, the aircraft was first put into official service’

5) 20,351 Spitfires (17 types).

Paragraph E: ‘In total 20,351 spitfires of different versions were produced making it the most produced British aircraft of the Second World War.’

6) surveillance:

Paragraph F: ‘Spitfires were used continually by the Royal Air Force, later purely as surveillance planes (to monitor activity overhead though carrying no armament), until 1954’

7) C:

In Paragraphs D and E, the Air Ministry sponsored development of an aircraft after the Supermarine SB and before the Spitfire. They sponsored the 224, which was unsuccessful so the Spitfire was developed but with private sponsorship.

8) A:

Paragraphs C and D: ‘…their aircraft achieving a new world speed record of 606 km/h; within days the Supermarine S.B. went on to break its own newly achieved record when on the 29th of the same month it became the first aircraft ever to achieve speeds of over 400 miles per hour (640 kilometres) when it reached 407.5 mph (640 kilometres per hour). …Reginald Joseph Mitchell was awarded a CBE In 1932 for his contributions to high speed flight.’

9) D:

Paragraphs C and E. The Supermarine SB: ‘…it became the first aircraft ever to achieve speeds of over 400 miles per hour1. The Spitfire: the Spitfire was considered revolutionary’

10) E:

‘prior to completion of all stages of its official trials, convinced by its potential, The British Royal Air Force ordered 310 models.’

11) B:

‘and his capabilities and contributions were deemed so significant Vickers- Armstrong made his continual employment for a five year period a condition of the purchase of the company.’

12) G:

‘A combined theatre and education centre “The Mitchell Memorial Theatre’ bears his name; and the city museum, at the entrance of which stands a bronze statue of Mitchell, displays an authentic and complete Spitfire as part of its collection. In addition a local high school is named after him; as is a major roadway…’

13) F:

‘24 models of spitfire were designed along with many sub-variants containing different engine types and possessing different wing configurations’

14) E:

‘With Its smooth lines, load-bearing metal shell, and heavy eight-machine gun armament, the Spitfire was considered revolutionary’

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