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The Spitfire

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Guest
The First Spitfire to be completed and delivered to the RAF was in 1937 its top speed was 346 m.p.h., and it had an armament of eight machine-guns in the wings, which could be fired at the pressing of a button in. the pilot's cockpit.
Small and unimpressive outside, the modern Spitfire was a veritable box of tricks inside its smooth, streamlined hull. It seems impossible, indeed, that so much could  be crammed into so small a space. The 1,030 h.p. Merlin engine gives the fighter in the later models a top speed of 387 m.p.h., and in these same models the eight Browning guns in the wings had been replaced by cannon-guns firing small shells. Then there was a perfect swarm of instruments and gadgets of all kinds. There was a two-way wireless set, an oxygen-breathing apparatus for flying at high altitudes, parachute flares, and as the pilot sat in his cockpit enclosed with bullet-proof glass, he was confronted by an instrument panel containing an altimeter, engine revolution counters, a turn indicator, air temperature thermometers, petrol gauges, a clock and a multitude of other instruments. The undercarriage was retractable to still further reduce resistance to the air, and in flight a Spitfire was as near like a bullet as possible, a bullet with wings.
Such was the machine which, with the Hawker Hurricane, another single-seater monoplane fighter mounting eight Browning guns, and with a top speed of 336 m.p.h., formed Britain's first line of defence against the German Lutwaffe when the Battle of Britain began on August 8th, 1940.
Against them the Germans launched a formidable array of bombing aircraft protected by two main types of fighters, the ME. 109 and the ME. 110. The ME. 109 was a single-seater monoplane fighter armed with a cannon and six machine-guns, and with a maximum speed of 350 m.p.h. The ME 110. was larger than the 109. It was a two-seater monoplane mounting four fixed machine-guns and two cannon, and. its top speed was fifteen miles greater than that of the 109, but it lacked the smaller machine's power of manoeuvre. In addition to these there was the Heinkel 113, a single-engined fighter with a top speed of 380 m.p.h., and provided with a cannon and two large-bore machine-guns.
It was noticed that the German fighters were more heavily armed than the Spitfire or the Hurricane, though the number of weapons were less. For a long time there had been a fight between those who supported the aerial cannon and those who claimed that a large battery of machine-guns, pouring their concentrated fire into one small target, would be far more deadly. The Germans felt sure that their heavier guns would blow our air fighters from the skies. Our people were equally certain that our octuple (eight) machine-gun batteries would tear the German machines to ribbons, and send them reeling earthwards, and when the testing time came, our people proved to be right.
Every one knows the story of the Battle of Britain. Germany had decided to bring the war to an end in the Autumn of 1940, and for that purpose she prepared a great invasion of Britain. But first the Royal Air Force had to be destroyed or grounded, and on August 8th, 1940, the Lutwaffe set about the destruction of Britain's air power. Goering and his flying men felt quite certain that they could do this. Had they not done it in Poland and other countries, overcoming aerial resistance by sheer weight of numbers, so why should they not do it in England ? Time provided two answers to that question. First our men, second our machines. We had the best of both, while the Germans, man for man and machine for machine, were not quiet so good. For once they had met their match.
The Battle of Britain lasted for the best part of three months and was divided roughly into four phases. In the first phase the Germans tried to destroy our shipping and attacked our South-Eastern coastal towns and aerodromes. In this they failed, and attributing their failure rightly to our Spitfires and Hurricanes, the enemy next attempted to put out of action our fighter aerodromes and aircraft factories, and so paralyse our defence.
Again our incomparable airmen in their incomparable machines won the day.
Goering turned his rage on London in a final, desperate effort to turn defeat into victory. This attack lasted from the 7th September to the 5th October, during which weeks the Germans made a desperate attempt to destroy London and win the war. They did not win it, London was not destroyed, and so heavy was the toll taken by our Spitfires and Hurricanes of the German bombers, that after the 6th October, these were withdrawn from the fight, and from then onward till the end of the month, when the battle came to an end, the Lutwaffe continued a losing contest with fighters and fighter-bombers alone. They must have known that they were beaten, however. Already they had lost huge numbers of aircraft. Already the name " Spitfire" was a word of fear among the German airmen, and again and again the sight of a force of these little fighters, hurtling through the air, would cause a much larger enemy force to turn tail and run before the battle was engaged.
Reginald Mitchell the man who designed the Spitfire never lived to learn the result of the Battle of Britain, for he died in 1937, two years before the war began. He never knew that, between the 8th August and the 31st October, 1940, Spitfires and Hurricanes shot down 2,375 German aircraft for certain, not counting the hundreds which must have crashed on the way home. But the Germans know, and we know, too, that Reginald Mitchell, sitting at his desk, did as much as any man and more than most to win the Battle for Freedom when he designed the Spitfire, and left that incomparable fighter as a legacy to his country to serve her in her hour of need
 
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The first photo shows the assembly line of Spitfire fighters in a British aircraft factory fitting together the intricate parts that go to complete the deadly little fighter
Second photo Shows workmen building up the fuselages of the lines of fighters, ready for the final covering.
Third Photo Shows the Spitfires taking shape, the fuselage is completed, the landing wheels fitted and the engineers are fitting the powerful engines that give those great machines their power
 
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These two photographs show just what our brave boys faced and did
The German Bombers on their way to bomb our cities and how most of them ended up,shot down over the English Channel
Feel free to add comments in replies here or photos of relatives that were pilots or in the RAF
 
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The summer of 1940 showed we had a slight advantage over the German air force
One, the fight was in our neck of the woods and any British plane that was shot down or crash landed or the pilot had to bale out, was quickly back in the air to fight again if he was not injured unlike the German aircrew who were captured and put into POW camps.
Two, Radar played a key role in the war and Britain was more advanced than any country in the World in this field and thanks to the Polish and French intelligence experts we inherited the key to one of the Germanys High Commands most important ciphers which we used to our advantage in the Battle of Britain
Photo shows 12 Spitfires over the coast of England
 

loisand

master brummie
Re: Replies Here

Brilliant article about the Spitfires, are the pictures from the Castle Bromwich aerodrome, now Castle Vale, or are they from somewhere else???????????
:flower: :cat:
 
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Guest
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Loisand, Because of the censorship in war time it did not say where the photographs were taken but I should imagine in was Birmingham, lets hope they can be identified by someone who has a bit of knowledge about the factories
 

dennis

master brummie
Re: Replies Here

Hi Cromwell,
Quite a few Spitfires were also built
at Southampton ,as For the poor old "Hurri"
it is reported to have shot down more enemy
fighters than the "Spit"
 
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Guest
Re: Replies Here

Dennis, You are right what you say about the good old Hurricane, the Spitfire and the Hurricane in direct proportion to their numbers in service had more kills in the Battle of Britain,the machine guns on the Hurricane were far better. A lot of propaganda was used to promote the Spitfire  in the film
"The First of The Few" the Spitfires role was greatly exaggerated just like modern day films such as
Braveheart,The Patriot,The Enigma Machine just to name a few that people believe them to be fact when all that they are is  "entertaining Hollywood tripe"  Most of it pure fiction and twisted truth.
But the article was about the Spitfire and this is the replies section.
Duxford only built 50 Spitfires by 1938 so the Government ordered a "Shadow" factory to be built at Castle Bromwich with the first order of 1000
I believe the Spitfire was slightly inferior to the Hurricane but that is only my view
 
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Rod

Guest
Re: Replies Here

I think youve done a smashing job there Cromwell.

I do have to say though that I take a romantic view of the Spitfire, it was and still is a super looking aircraft!! so it's my favourite. I saw one do a victory roll over a campsite we were staying on near Broadway in Worcestershire, what a sight that was to behold!!
 
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Guest
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Rod, The Spitfire is a better looking plane as the Hurricane is kinda squat if ya know what I mean
But old tin legs the Great Douglas Bader flew Hurricanes as did the great Cobber Kain and Ginger Kacey
Wonderful men, it was the Hurricane that destroyed over two thirds of the German planes which outnumbered us but never never outclassed us. But putting planes to one side it was the pilots that won the Battle of Britain Young Brave and Unsung Heroes who we owe a great debt to that can never be repaid. Ever !
Photo is of the Hurricane
 

dennis

master brummie
Re: Replies Here

Just as a matter of interest,
does anyone remember making Spitfire brooches
out of an old Penny?
 
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Guest
Re: Replies Here

These small little Spitfires were made by hand by servicemen mainly who had time on their hands,some were made from scrap metal from damaged planes or from copper or silver coins
They were made by bending the coin in half then soldering a thin strip in the centre together then folding back the sides and cut and hammer to shape the wings then a safety pin was soldered on and job done
 
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Rod

Guest
Re: Replies Here

I wasn't yet born when this country was at war with Germany. I was however brought up on a diet of war films and nostalgia with regard to those years. Thats why I guess I have the romantic notions about that period of history. Ive read many books about the Battle of Britain, and about the few men who stood bravely between us and the German Luftwaffe... they make for some good if not remarkable reading, and I do know something of the facts and figures about the aircraft and their pilots. Also the politics between Bader, Leigh Mallory 12 group ..Park 11 group, and Dowding over the Balbo Big Wing tactic put forward by Bader and Mallory.
It's very important too that we recognise the work of the ground crews (SEE PHOTOS), who kept the planes flying and armed, and the operations rooms of fighter command who guided those brave fighter pilots. Last but not least one of the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain C. Aubrey Dixon responsible for the Incendary bullets used effectively by our lads against the enemy aircraft.
We musnt forget the other theatres of war the Spitfire was a major player in. Malta, using the "Slipper" fuel tanks to get them from carriers based around Gibralter and the Far East where using Slash and Run tactics they were able to take on the Japanese Zeros.

Here is the famous Sigh From A Merlin Engine in a Spitfire, it makes the hairs on my back stand up!! It also makes me very proud of what our air force did and the sacrifices those pilots made.
 

dennis

master brummie
Re: Replies Here

Loved that sound Rod,
I used to watch them being tested
at castle bromwich Aerodrome,
They say that when they "tipped" them
all manner of bits and pieces (i.e. washers,nuts,evenspanners)
would fly around the cockpit
 

Alf

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Re: Replies Here

Yes Dennis when I worked at Tyburn Road B'ham City Transport works, two or three of the lads there made them. They also made Rings out of Silver Coins if the could find one or two, I made a ring myself but chose the wrong Silver? and it turned your fingers Green after a few hours :2funny:
 
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Frantic

Guest
Re: Replies Here

My dad worked on the marine version of the Spitfire. The "Seafire". He was a Petty officer with the maintenance crews on board the H.M.S. Implacable (carrier).
 
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Guest
Re: Replies Here

Nice Plane Frantic the Vickers Supermarine V.S Seafire
 
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Rod

Guest
Re: Spitfire Replies Here

Frantic I found this on another website.
 
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