RAF Fighter Command Battle of Britain Photos

 

captured German pilot

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).

Cool Vid USAF Mid-Air Refueling French Mirage Fighters Over Iraq

 

 

US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker of 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron fuels French Mirage fighters over Iraq in June of 2015. Official US Air Force video.

renowned British Navy test pilot who made history with exploits that advanced Allied fighter power in World War II

Capt Eric Brown IM

Brown in an undated photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Captain Eric Brown, RN, was a heroic and renowned British Navy test pilot  in World War II.  Unlike most test pilots, he died at the ripe old age of 97 on 21 February 2016.

He did so many important things in aviation, established so many records and was involved in critical aviation developments for the Allies in World War Two that his obituary in the New York Times takes up a half a page.

It is a fascinating read and a glimpse into the rapidity of aircraft development caused by the Second World War. You can read it here:

Eric Brown obit in New York Times

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

 

polish RAF pilot

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.