Nostradamus [Michel de Nostredame], French astrologer and physician. Shortly before the Battle of Britain began, a practice air raid had been arranged between a Spitfire squadron and a Hurricane squadron. “I was in the middle of 30 or so bloody Germans and it felt good to give the Germans some stick of their own.”, That evening Winston Churchill arrived at 74 Squadron to congratulate the pilots for their achievements. Leave A Reply. 111 Squadron, which received its new fighters late in 1937. As a more stable gun platform, many have said that the Hurricane was better suited to go after the Luftwaffe bombers. When Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, the news was greeted with excitement at the home of No. He knew that the German Luftwaffe was expanding and that Adolf Hitler’s ambition would probably lead to an armed conflict between Britain and Germany. The Spitfire is faster than the Hurricane. James Thomas Aubrey Jr., TV and film executive; president of CBS television (1959–1965). Flying Limitations of the Me 109 G (from: Technical Instructions of the Generalluftzeugmeister, Berlin, 28th August 1942.. Reference Me 109 - wing breakages. Spitfire vs Me-262 fw-190-wurger. Knowing he had the experience and the reputation he acquired by designing his Schneider Trophy winners going for him, Mitchell decided to make a bid for the Air Ministry’s contract to design this new fighter. He noted that the exploding cannon shells of the Messerschmitt Bf- 109, which inflicted heavy damage to metal skin, had less effect on any sort of girder work-in the same way that bomb blasts so often failed to topple the skeletal British radar towers. Every year I set a goal for myself. The incident has become known as the Battle of Barking Creek, which is curious given that Bark­ing Creek is in east London and Freeborn shot down Hulton-Harrop many miles north over rural Essex. The fact that the Hurricane was responsible for more enemy aircraft destroyed is eclipsed by the Spitfire’s graceful silhouette and romantic legend. Emmett Tyrell, journalist, author, publisher; founded The American Spectator magazine. Hurricane : Spitfire : Specifications: Span: 40 ft. 30 ft. “I never did daft things like that, or if you do, you do them properly, not the way he did it.”, A lineup of No. 56 Squadron at North Weald. Production went into high gear during the following year, after the Air Ministry realized that the coming conflict was not far off. The British Supermarine Spitfire was the only Allied fighter aircraft of the Second World War to fight in front line service from the beginnings of the conflict, in September 1939, through to the end in August 1945. In spite of their differences, both in origin and in performance, the two fighters became counterparts. I was shouting at him to get out of the bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it. Rolls-Royce would rename this engine the Merlin–a name that would become legend among aircraft power plants. The next day there was a squadron scramble that proved to be a false alarm. Or, as another pilot said, ‘The Spitfire and the Hurricane complemented each other.’. 31 ft. 3 in. In their jubilee edition of The Battle of Britain, Richard Hough and Denis Richards give their own version of the Spitfire myth: ‘The Battle of Britain, despite Fighter Command’s being down to its last few aircraft, was won by unfailingly cheerful young officers flying Spitfires … and directed by ‘Stuffy’ Dowding ……, The reason for the Hurricane’s second-class status was that it was competing not with another fighter, but with a genuine legend. Byrne had shot down the 56 Squadron Hurri­cane flown by Frank Rose, who managed to bail out, but Freeborn had downed his wingman, 26-year-old Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop, who was dead, the first British pilot combat fatality of the war. Dowding had the future in mind. The final proof is the Hurricane outscored the Spitfire in Battle of Britain kills. He spent a year in the U.S., during which he fell in love with the P-51 Mustang, his favorite of all the aircraft he flew. The Supermarine firm had been taken over by the industrial giant Vickers by this time; the new corporation was known as Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd. Had Flinders not intervened, Freeborn probably would have also shot down a Bristol Blenheim he believed to be a German bomber. However, the Hap pilot considers his tolerance in reference to blacking out to be above average. The Hurricane’s maiden flight impressed the Air Ministry, but there were still some who had their doubts about such an ‘unconventional’ airplane-one that had eight machine guns and an enclosed cockpit. [Stephen] would say I was a rotten bugger for doing that, but I didn’t shoot any, not at all.”. “I took off and went so bloody fast!” he said. Shirley Jackson, novelist and short story writer (Life Among Savages, The Lottery). “Hastings didn’t half take Malan to pieces,” recalled Freeborn. Hurricanes of RAF No. Ernie Davis, first African American to win Heisman Trophy (Syracuse University); subject of The Express movie (2008). Deighton also noted that the Hurricane had a tighter turning radius than the Spitfire-800 feet for the Hurricane compared with 880 for the Spitfire. The Spitfire, Hurricane, and Fw-190, with their “vertical” landing gear and heavier structures, fared much better. The new fighter, now designated the F.10/35, developed into a low-wing interceptor with retractable undercarriage, flaps, enclosed cockpit, and oxygen for the pilot. Asked if he followed Adolph "Sailor" Malan’s “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” John Freeborn, seen atop his Spitfire Mk. Asked for his opinion of Malan’s famous “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” which became an unofficial guide for new pilots, Freeborn snorted with derision: “A lot of rubbish. But the brunt of the fighting was taken on by the Spitfire and the Hurricane. Officially designated the F.7/30, it was a gull-winged monoplane with an open cockpit and spatted undercarriage. R. J. Mitchell's masterpiece, the prototype Supermarine Spitfire. “He was controlling the squadron at 32,000 feet and 10/10ths cloud and he said there are bandits,” recounted Freeborn. Fighter aircraft Main types: Hurricane, Spitfire and Bf 109. 4. He was in poor health and lonely, so he enjoyed talking about old times. Peter Townsend, who flew both Spitfires and Hurricanes, said that Spitfires were ‘faster and more nimble, the Hurricane more maneuverable at its own speed and undoubtedly the better gun platform.’ One of Townsend’s fellow Battle of Britain pilots defended the Spitfire: ‘Our Spits were so well balanced they would fly themselves. Many pilots owe their lives to this property …. Freeborn did. Charlie Rich, crossover country singer, musician ("Behind Closed Doors"). The exercise began according to plan-the Spitfires patrolled above their aerodrome, and the Hurricanes showed up flying in bomber formation. If those officers had had their way, the RAF would have faced the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf-109s with obsolete Gloster Gladiators in the spring and summer of 1940. XIIa (left) and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. The Hurricane was more stable gun platform than the Spitfire although not as nippy. Despite the great effort, however, nothing was accomplished by the little drill. Freeborn was in his mid-80s when I got to know him, living by himself in northwest England, having outlived two wives. Mustang, Spitfire, Hurricane – The Fighters that Brought the Luftwaffe to its Knees Germany had the most powerful air force in Europe when the World War II started. He had only recently agreed to talk publicly about his wartime experience as the pilot who had flown more operational hours during the Battle of Britain than any other. These thin, elliptically shaped wings would become the fighter’s most recognizable feature. Mitchell continued to modify his design in 1933 and 1934. 2, Acting Flying Officer John Freeborn; and Sgt. Post-war, the Spitfire's service career continued into the 1950s. The changing nature of the air war over Europe drove a slew of upgrade programmes for both aircraft. Number one attack. This feature originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Aviation History. When the Hurricane pilots saw their adversaries closing from behind, they broke formation and turned to meet their attackers–a highly unbomberlike maneuver! In spite of their differences, it would be the combination of Hurricane and Spitfire, together that turned the tide in that Summer of 1940. Air Vice Marshal Hugh ‘Stuffy’ Dowding, Air Member for Supply and Research, had been in charge of the RAF’s technical development since 1930. In my 2012 Quadrant essay Hermann Goering and the burning of the Bialowieza I made a comment that at the start of the war the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt 109 fighter was about on a par with the RAF’s Spitfire, but superior to the Hurricane. The point about Hurricanes vs Bf109Fs and Gs/Fw190/ is reasonable – however, I never suggested that the Hurricane should supplant the Spitfire after 1940, indeed, like the Spitfire it should have been replaced as quickly as possible after the Battle of Britain. “I would sometimes fly quite close to frighten them, so close the slipstream would hit them and it would blow the parachute all over the place. The Air Ministry confirmed this with its statement, ‘The total number of enemy aircraft brought down by single-seater fighters was in the proportion of 3 by Hurricanes to 2 by Spitfires,’ and also noted, ‘the average proportion … of serviceable [aircraft] each morning was approximately 63 percent Hurricanes and 37 percent Spitfires.’ A cynic might be tempted to say that the Hurricane did most of the work, but the Spitfire got most of the glory. “I was very sorry about it, but it was Malan’s fault. I gave him a squirt or two and he hit a telegraph pole with his prop and it knocked him to pieces. Their collaboration bore fruit on August 11 when the squadron flew into combat four times between dawn and 1400, accounting for 23 enemy aircraft, one probable and 14 damaged. Following some persuasive arguments from Air Vice Marshal Dowding, the Air Ministry agreed with Summers’ assessment. Now they had their golden opportunity to demonstrate which fighter really was superior, once and for all. He was a brilliant pilot, but he was as evasive on the ground as he was in the air, a mix of showman and politician. A squadron of Gloster Gladiator biplanes was actually assigned to defend the Royal Naval dockyards at Portsmouth. “I got him down with about four bullets from each gun and he just burst into flames,” he recalled. Stresses placed upon both aircraft during tests were not measured. “We landed back at North Weald very angry at the terrible mess-up where our controllers had so irresponsibly vectored two wings onto each other, guns loaded and pilots warned for combat,” he remarked after the war. Edward Don­aldson, who witnessed the attack, had no doubt who was to blame. James H. Doolittle, American Air Force general who commanded the first bombing mission over Japan. That’s why it didn’t bother me, or anyone else in the squadron, if you weren’t successful during a sortie. Later, on September 29, 1931, his S.6B, fitted with a special ‘Sprint’ engine with its horsepower upgraded to 2,550, pushed the world speed record to 407.5 mph. The Merlin engine promised to give it all the speed Mitchell wanted and the Air Ministry would require. The Hurricanes were to make a mock bomb run over the Kenley airfield in Surrey. 74 “Tiger” Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, east of London. Spitfire required a minimum speed of 250 mph to retain maneuverability advantage. Although Freeborn and Malan despised one another, they shared a mutual respect for their flying ability. 3. I flew all the time. He’d gone home [he lived with his wife off base] and dropped us right in the s—.”. (Imperial War Museum). It was that line of thinking that made Dowding’s job of upgrading and modernizing the RAF more difficult. In consequence, many seriously damaged Hurricanes were repaired in squadron workshops while badly damaged Spitfires were being written off. That question has been asked by pilots, historians and air enthusiasts since 1940. He could be provocative, yet his character was underpinned by an acute sense of probity. A Spitfire could climb higher and turn faster because of its wing design. “But I could never get blokes to do it. And the cynics would have a point. Fortunately out of the confusion emerged greater clarity. And the ‘old school’ types had a good deal of influence in the pre-1939 RAF. “I caught this one knocking bloody seven bells out of a Spitfire over Dunkirk,” he remembered of the Messerschmitt Me-109E he encountered on the French coast. On February 13, 1939, 74 Squadron took delivery of its first Spitfire. Nobody’s skills at breaking up bomber formations had improved, and neither side could brag about a clearcut victory over the other. He pointed out that the RAF had very few men who understood the complexities of the Spitfire’s stressed-metal construction, but that its airframe and flight mechanics had spent their lives servicing and rigging wood-and-fabric aircraft like the Hurricane. 65 (Spitfire) Squadron observed that the Hurricane inflicted greater damage on the enemy bombers than did the Spitfire; but without the Spitfire squadrons to fight the Messerschmitts, the Hurricane-inflicted casualties might not have been enough to win the battle. With a maximum speed of 342 mph, the plane was classed as the fastest military aircraft in the world. During the Battle of Britain, between July and September 1940, 19 squadrons of Supermarine Spitfires (372 aircraft at peak on August 30) and 33 squadrons of Hawker Hurricanes (709 aircraft on August 30) faced the Luftwaffe from airports throughout southern England. Daarnaast bestond ook nog de variant Seafire, waarvan er 2.594 werden gebouwd. The larger engine he had in mind was supplied by Rolls-Royce–a new, 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled power plant called simply the PV-12. But when Dowding decided that eight guns would be needed to destroy an enemy bomber, Camm changed his design. Shirley Jackson, novelist and short story writer (Life Among Savages, The Lottery). Ernie Davis, first African American to win Heisman Trophy (Syracuse University); subject of The Express movie (2008). 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