Spitfires and Hurricanes Fighters Battle of Britain

 

captured German pilot

Shot down by British fighters. A captured German bomber crewman drinks from a British soldier’s water bottle after baling out of his aircraft, 30 August 1940. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

2 Polish pilots receiving instruction on aircraft controls 27 August 1940

Two airmen of the Polish Air Force Depot at RAF Blackpool receive instruction on the controls of an aircraft during ground training at Squires Gate aerodrome, 27 August 1940. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

SPitifres of 610 squadron in formation 24 July 1940

Supermarine Spitfires (Mark I) of No. 610 Squadron RAF fly in formation, 24 July 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

British fighter doctrine at the time specified that fighters were to fly in groups of three which the RAF named a “vic”. Unfortunately, this made the system of having a wing-man watching your back difficult to emulate and it was only later in the war that the British adopted the successful “finger four” formation of the Luftwaffe.

Peter Townsend

 Squadron Leader Peter Townsend chats with ground crew sitting on his Hawker Hurricane at Wick, Scotland.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

German BF 109 crashed

Locals watch as troops and police inspect a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 which crash-landed in a field near Lewes, Sussex. The pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.

RAF airman examines captured Heinkel HE 111

An RAF airman examines the cockpit of a captured German Heinkel He 111, 2 October 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

Sgt Furst greeted by squadron mascot

Sergeant Bohumil Furst of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron is greeted by the Squadron mascot on returning to RAF Duxford after a mission, 7 September 1940.

(Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum).

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN ITALY, JANUARY 1944

 

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Groundcrew refuelling Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIA, P7420, of No. 19 Squadron RAF from a tractor-drawn petrol bowser at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. This newly-arrived example was one of the few Spitfire Mark IIs to fly operationally with a front-line squadron before the end of the Battle of Britain.

 

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Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire pilot of No 241 Squadron, Flying Officer W R B McMurray looking at a map in Italy. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

 

 

 

 

4/5ths German Aircraft Battle of Britain destroyed by Hawker Hurricanes

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Hawker Hurricanes fly in formation.

According to the history section of the Royal Air Force it’s estimated that Hurricane pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the Battle of Britain.

 http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/hawkerhurricane.cfm  

 

The Hawker Hurricane was the first operational R.A.F. aircraft capable of a top speed in excess of 300 mph. Delivery of the aircraft to front line squadrons of Fighter Command only began in the fall of 1938. By the outbreak of war in September of 1939, Hawker Aircraft Ltd had built 497 Hurricanes from the intial RAF order of 3,500.

 

From RAF History site:

“A total of 1,715 Hurricanes flew with Fighter Command during the period of the Battle, far in excess of all other British fighters combined. Having entered service a year before the Spitfire, the Hurricane was “half-a-generation” older, and was markedly inferior in terms of speed and climb. However, the Hurricane was a robust, manoeuvrable aircraft capable of sustaining fearsome combat damage before write-off; and unlike the Spitfire, it was a wholly operational, go-anywhere do-anything fighter by July 1940. It is estimated that its pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the period July-October 1940.”

 

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (right) was the head of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and the main architect of its success.

 

Brave Polish Fighter Pilot Who Served in the British Royal Air Force

 

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Stanisław Skalski in his Hawker Hurricane during the Battle of Britain.

The smaller Iron Crosses* are for “assists.”

(While eclipsed by the glamour of the Spitfire, Hurricanes actually comprised 60% of the front-line strength of RAF Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain.)

Stanisław Skalski DSO, DFC, and two Bars* (27 November 1915 – 12 November 2004) was a Polish fighter ace of the Polish Air Force in World War II, later rising to the rank of Generał. He was either the t]first or the second Polish fighter ace of WW II and the first Allied fighter ace of the war, credited, according to the official list, with 18 11/12 victories and two probable. Some sources, including Skalski himself, give a number of 22+ victories.(Colorised by Tomek Iwanowski from Poland).

(photo and caption courtesy of Carlos L Martinez via David Criser onPinterest)

From his biography on World War Two awards:

“Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1 1939, Skalski and his squadron were in action immediately. He claimed his first victory on the opening day, and by the fifth day he had destroyed four German bombers, to become the only Polish ace of the short campaign. As Polish resistance collapsed, the remnants of his squadron escaped to Romania. He eventually made his way to the Mediterranean, where he boarded a boat for England, arriving in January 1940 and was commissioned in the RAF….he joined No 501 Squadron at the height of the Battle of Britain in August 1940. Flying Hurricanes.”

He shot down 22 Luftwaffe aircraft during World War Two, including the German planes he shot down in Poland, and was the second highest scoring Polish ace. The London Daily Mail says he was the “Poland’s most successful fighter pilot” so sources conflict.

He was decorated for gallantry four times by the British,  three times by the Free French and six times by the Polish government in exile, according to the Daily Mail. Once again sources conflict. The site with his full biography shows he was decorated as many as ten times by the Polish government in exile.

In 1947 he returned to Poland, was arrested in 1949 on trumped up charges of espionage orchestra by the Soviets. He was beaten frequently and sentenced to death. In 1956 he was released, returned to England and resumed his career in the Royal Air Force, rising to the rank of General.

He was decorated for gallantry four times by the British, six times by the Polish government in exile and three times by the Free French.

 

His entire biography with citations is here: World War Two biography of Stanislaw Skalski

 

** two bars means he was twice more awarded the medal

Many Polish Air Force pilots made their way to Great Britain after the German’s overran Poland. In spite of their antiquated aircraft, the Polish Air Force had put up a credible defense. AOC-in-C Dowding of Fighter Command was wary of these pilots at first. Few spoke English and he thought they might be too undisciplined. As it turned out, they learned English quickly and since they had been professional airmen and flying for a number of years they were some of the most experienced fighter pilots the RAF had.

Better, given what the Nazis were doing to their homeland, the Poles had a visceral hatred of the Germans. If they ran out of ammunition and were over England, Polish pilots often rammed German planes then baled out.

iconic RAF Spitfire: best propeller fighter plane ever produced.

A Royal Visit to the HQ of RAF Fighter Command at Royal Air Force station Bentley Priory. The operations rooms were in specially made underground bunkers. The home which is located in the London Borough of Harrow was purchased by the RAF in 1926. 

George VI FC with Dowding

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, escorted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, visit the Headquarters of Fighter Command at Bentley Priory, near Stanmore, Middlesex

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

RAF Station Bentley Priory was finally closed in 2008. Subsequently developed into luxury condominiums. The British Government continues to sell of its historic heritage to private interest which immediately close them to the public. For large sums of money you can now rent historic rooms in the Palace of Westminster which is the seat of the House of Commons for private parties. This includes the members dining room and bar where Winston Churchill was often found.

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Ground crew refuelling Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIA, P7420, of No. 19 Squadron RAF from a tractor-drawn petrol bowser at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. This newly-arrived example was one of the few Spitfire Mark IIs to fly operationally with a front-line squadron before the end of the Battle of Britain.

 (photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

poles

A formation of Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIAs of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron RAF dip their wings as they pass the saluting base during a visit by the Polish President, Władysław Raczkiewicz, to Northolt, Middlesex.

photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

 

Many Polish Air Force pilots made their way to Great Britain after the German’s over ran Poland. In spite of their antiquated aircraft, the Polish Air Force had put up a credible defense. AOC-in-C Dowding of Fighter Command was wary of these pilots at first. Few spoke English and he thought they might be too undisciplined. As it turned out, they learned English quickly and since they had been professional airmen and flying for a number of years they were some of the most experienced fighter pilots the RAF had.

Better, given what the Nazis were doing to their homeland, the Poles had a visceral hatred of the Germans. If they ran out of ammunition and were over England, Polish pilots often rammed German planes then baled out.

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Spitfire F Mark XIV, RB159 ‘DW-D’, being flown by the commanding officer of No. 610 Squadron RAF, Squadron Leader R A Newbury, when based at Friston, Sussex.

photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

 

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Flight Lieutenant Laurie of No. 222 Squadron, Royal Air Force warming up Supermarine Spitfire Mark V, BM202 ‘ZD-H’ “Flying Scotsman”, at North Weald, Essex. This aircraft was the second bearing this name to be paid for from donations made by LNER personnel, arranged through the company’s wartime headquarters at Hitchin.

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

 

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The Spitfire XII had been in service for over a year when this shot was taken on 12 April 1944 of two Friston-based aircraft from No 41 Squadron. Essentially a Mk V airframe mated to Rolls-Royce’s powerful 1,735hp Griffon engine (which gave it a top speed of about 390mph at 18,00ft), the Mk XII was a low-level interceptor, equipping two home-defence squadrons. By 1944, however, enemy fighter-bomber incursions were rare and the Mk XIIs were being employed on offensive sweeps over northern France.

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Queen Elizabeth II, senior royals mark 75th anniversary Battle of Britain

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, fourth left, waves beside from left, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward, Prince William and her husband Prince Philip after they watched a Royal Air Force flypast to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain from a balcony at Buckingham Palace, in London, Friday, July 10, 2015. On July 10, 1940, during World War II, the Battle of Britain began as the Luftwaffe started attacking southern England. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II and other royals have watched from the balcony of Buckingham Palace balcony as vintage aircraft flew overhead to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Spitfires and Hurricanes from World War II flew along with modern counterparts Friday as six elderly veteran pilots joined the royals for the ceremony.

The 10th of July is widely viewed as the start of the famous air battle because of a series of Luftwaffe attacks on shipping convoys off the British coast on that day in 1940.

The British eventually beat back the German air forces, dealing the Nazis their first significant defeat.
The queen was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, her sons Prince Edward and Prince Andrew, grandson Prince William and other royals on the balcony.

posted by author Charles McCain

https://www.charlesmccain.com