Aviation Historian 32
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G.Baughen - 1940. The battle of ... Kent?
Although the French Dewoitine D.520 was inferior to its German adversary in terms of pure performance, its excellent manoeuvrability and substantial firepower - a single 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub and four wing-mounted 7-5mm machine-guns - gave the Armee de I’Air a fighter capable of holding its own against the Bf 109E. Unfortunately there were too few on strength in the spring of 1940 to make a difference to the outcome of the Battle of France.
The main priority for Dowding, and to some extent the Air Staff, in the run-up to war was the establishment of a fighter force capable of stopping German bombers, such as these Heinkel He 111s, from raining destruction on British cities all over the UK from bases in Germany - crucially, beyond the range of German escort fighters.
In 1941 Puffin published Picture Book No 21, The Battle of Britain, a children’s book based on the Air Ministry’s “Official Account of the Great Days of 1940”, written by David Garnett and incorporating a series of pastel artworks by James Gardner, including this dramatic sketch of a head-on meeting of a Spitfire and He 111.
Led by Mk Is K9912 (left) and K9910, both hung with “serviceable” signs between their wheels, 16 Spitfires of No 65 Sqn (with immaculately “dressed” propellers) are lined up at the unit’s base at Hornchurch. The squadron participated in operations over Dunkirk in May 1940 (during which K9912 was lost) and played a major part in the Battle of Britain.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I N2479 of No 56 Sqn is inspected at North Weald in 1940. The unit saw action in both the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and was one of the few squadrons to remain in the south of the UK throughout the latter. Should Dowding have sent the eminently more suitable Spitfire to France and kept his force of Hurricanes back to take on the Luftwaffe’s bombers?
A typically bustling scene at the home of Spitfire Mk I-equipped No 611 (West Lancashire) Sqn. The unit operated from RAF Digby in Lincolnshire during the Battle of Britain as part of No 12 Group, responsible for the air defence of the Midlands, Norfolk and Lincolnshire. No 611 Sqn had also taken part in the operations over the beaches at Dunkirk.
В сентябре 1940 года X4179, Spitfire Mk IА, поступил в 19-ю эскадрилью (ранее 266-я), позднее ее перевооружили на Mk II.
Spitfire Mk I X4178 of No 41 Sqn has its Merlin III engine run up during the Battle of Britain. The unit alternated between Yorkshire and Essex during the Battle. This Spitfire served throughout the summer of 1940 but was shot down during a dogfight with a JG 51 Messerschmitt Bf 109E over Broadstairs in Kent on October 15, 1940. The 23-year-old pilot, Sgt P.D. Lloyd, was killed.
The RAF prided itself on its pilots’ ability to fly in tight formations, like these Spitfires. German fighters encountered in France, apparently wildly weaving and jinking around, initially attracted some derision from their RAF opponents. In fact, the looser German formations made it easier to look out for prowling enemy fighters.
In 1941 Puffin published Picture Book No 21, The Battle of Britain, a children’s book based on the Air Ministry’s “Official Account of the Great Days of 1940”, written by David Garnett and incorporating a series of pastel artworks by James Gardner, including this dramatic sketch of a head-on meeting of a Spitfire and He 111.