This work gained a new urgency once war broke out. They proved a success. Over the next year, the Mark Is were retired from front-line combat in favor of the new model. Between then and the end of , 6, Mark Vs went into action as part of over RAF squadrons and other units.
Battle of Britain: the spitfire, envy of the enemy
They saw action all over the world, in the campaign for North Africa, the siege of Malta, fighting for the Soviets on the Eastern Front, and defending Australia against the threat of Japanese attacks. Spitfires became so popular because of their high performance. Fast and maneuverable, the Mark V had a top speed of mph almost kph and could climb 20, feet 6, meters in seven-and-a-half minutes, with a flight ceiling of 36, feet 11, meters. Later models further improved upon this. The Spitfire also had an excellent range, improved by the use of disposable drop tanks to carry extra fuel.
The Mark V had a range of over 1, miles, allowing it to support bombers on missions deep into the heart of Germany, to destroy enemy manufacturing and infrastructure. It could out-maneuver the Spitfire Mark V and for nearly a year was the most potent fighter in the war. The Mark V Spitfire was equipped with eight 7. But armor and self-sealing fuel tanks on German planes made heavier weaponry necessary. The Mark IX had four. It could also carry a thousand pounds of rockets or bombs.
Able to reach nearly mph kph , it was the fastest Spitfire yet. Mark XIVs defeated more than of these deadly weapons as they hurtled toward British cities.
17 Facts About the Spitfire - We all Know These, Right?
Mark XIVs also proved effective against early jet fighters, which Germany deployed late in the war. Mark IX pilots also destroyed a number of Mes before the end of the war. On entering combat in August this first cannon armed Spitfire failed to create an impact, with the guns often jamming and unable to fire. When it did work, however, the Hispano was an effective weapon, with its shells easily able to penetrate the armour plating and self-sealing fuel tanks of Luftwaffe aircraft.
The Emil's main armament depended on the subtype. The E-1 was armed with four MG 17 7. Although the explosive shells had greater destructive power than the bullets of the Brownings, these cannon's low muzzle velocity and the limited ammunition capacity of their drum magazines meant that the armament was not markedly superior to the RAF fighter's eight machine guns. Three or four hits from the cannons were usually enough to bring down an enemy fighter and, even if the fighter was able to return to base, it would often be written off.
Although the crippled aircraft was successfully landed back at its airfield it was subsequently deemed to be unrepairable. A drawback of the Hurricane was the presence of a fuel tank just behind the engine firewall, which could catch fire and within a few seconds severely burn the pilot before he managed to bail out. This was later partly solved by fitting a layer of "Linatex" fire-resistant material to the tank, and an armoured panel forward of the instrument panel. Another hazard was presented by the main wing root mounted fuel tanks of the Hurricane, which were vulnerable to bullets fired from behind.
Internally they were coated with layers of "Linatex" and the cockpit bulkhead was fireproofed with a thick panel of asbestos. A much more serious issue for the Luftwaffe's single-engined fighter force during the Battle was the Bf E's limited fuel capacity as originally designed. Its eventual stablemate, the Focke-Wulf Fw A, was only flying in prototype form in the summer of ; the first 28 Fw A-0 service test examples were not delivered until November The ordnance rack was not retrofitted to earlier Bf Es until October Serviceability rates of Hawker's fighter were always higher than the complex and advanced Spitfire.
By July , more efficient de Havilland and Rotol constant speed propellers had begun replacing two-pitch propellers on front line RAF fighters. The new units allowed the Merlin to perform more smoothly at all altitudes and reduced the takeoff and landing runs. The majority of the front line RAF fighters were equipped with these propellers by mid-August. As early as Roy Fedden , who designed most of the Bristol Engine Company 's most successful aero engines, pressed for the introduction of octane aviation fuel from the US, and later that year the British aero engine manufacturers Bristol and Rolls-Royce demonstrated variants of their 'Mercury' and 'Merlin' engines rated for octane fuel.
A meeting was held on 16 March to consider the question of when the octane fuel should be introduced to general use for all RAF aircraft, and what squadrons, number and type, were to be supplied. The decision taken was that there would be an initial delivery to 16 fighter and two twin-engined bomber squadrons by September Although U-boats and surface raiders had begun to take a heavy toll of tankers, in the summer of there was a surplus of these ships because of the incorporation into the British merchant marine of tanker fleets from countries overrun by Germany.
In the opinion of a pre-war paper by the British Air Ministry, Germany, as a large producer of synthetic fuel, was thought to be in a favourable position to produce octane fuel in large quantities. At the start of the war the Luftwaffe standardized on 87 octane aviation gasoline, called "B4", made from leaded hydro-petrol extracted from brown coal.
In addition to the Hurricane, Spitfire, and the Bf , several other fighter aircraft — mostly twin-engined heavy fighters — took part in the Battle of Britain. When pitted against the Hurricane and Spitfire the Bf s began to experience heavy losses through being only slightly more manoeuvrable than the bombers they were meant to escort and suffering from poor acceleration.
A variant of the was the Bf D-1 , nicknamed " Dachshund -belly" Dackelbauch because of the fixed, wooden, 1, litre U. On 15 August, in the belief that all of the RAF fighter units were concentrated far to the south, Luftflotte 5 launched its first and only bomber attack against North Eastern England. Seven out of the 21 I. ZG 76 aircraft being used as bomber escorts were destroyed, including that of the Gruppenkommandeur "Group Commander".
The most successful role of the Bf during the Battle was as a "fast bomber" Schnellbomber , the same role that the Junkers Ju 88 A had been designed for in the mids.
One unit, Test Group " Erprobungsgruppe — originally meant to service test the Bf 's intended but ill-fated replacement, the Messerschmitt Me — proved it could carry a greater bomb load over a greater range than a Ju 87 and deliver it with similar accuracy, while its much higher maximum speed, especially at lower altitudes, meant it was far more capable of evading RAF fighters. For the British, the most disappointing fighter was the Boulton-Paul Defiant. This aircraft was intended to be used as a "bomber destroyer" because it was thought:.
The speed of modern bombers is so great that it is only worthwhile to attack them under conditions which allow no relative motion between the fighter and its target. The fixed-gun fighter with guns firing ahead can only realise these conditions by attacking the bomber from dead astern By , it was clear to both the RAF and the Luftwaffe that the deadliest opponents of bombers were single-engine, single-seat fighters with fixed, forward firing armament.
Apart from the extra weight and drag imposed by the four-gun turret and second crew member, the Defiant lacked any directly forward-firing armament. Should the gunner need to escape from the turret in an emergency, the only way he could do this was to traverse the turret to one side and bail out through the escape hatch — but if the aircraft's electric system was disabled, immobilizing the all-electric turret due to its power source being knocked out, there was no escape.
Spitfire pilot and one of last surviving Battle of Britain veterans dies aged 102
After the strong intervention of Dowding, who realised the Defiant was designed to an unworkable concept, there were only two units equipped with this aircraft, and squadrons. It equipped four squadrons and during the winter Blitz on London of —41, Defiants shot down more enemy aircraft than any other type.
The Fiat CR. They only made one mission during the battle itself when on 29 October they provided a bomber escort on a raid on Ramsgate. German Luftwaffe aircraft had difficulty flying in formation with the biplanes, which also proved to be poor match for the more modern British fighters, and the CR. The Italians also fielded a small number of Fiat G. Some Mk. I bombers were modified into Mk. IF long-range fighters with Auxiliary Air Force Squadron based at Hendon , the first squadron to take delivery of these variants in September By , at least seven squadrons were operating these twin-engined fighters and within a few months some 60 squadrons had transitioned to the type.
IF proved to be slower and less nimble than expected and by June , daylight Blenheim losses were to cause concern for Fighter Command. It was then decided that the IF would be relegated mainly to night fighter duties where No. In the German night bombing raid on London, 18 June , Blenheim night fighters accounted for five German bombers thus proving they were better suited in the nocturnal role. In July, No. III radar.
More successes came and, before long, the Blenheim was to prove invaluable in the night fighter role. Gradually, with the introduction of the Bristol Beaufighter in —41, its role was supplanted by its faster, better armed progeny. The first Beaufighters entered service in early September , at first delivered in standard day fighter camouflage schemes although the type was intended for a night fighting role.
The aircraft from Squadron was flown by Flt Lt. John Cunningham , scoring the first of his 20 victories. The only British biplane fighter in operational service was the Gloster Gladiator which equipped No. Although no combat sorties took place at the height of the aerial battles, No. The British had a cannon-armed fighter coming into service, the twin-engined Westland Whirlwind , but problems with its engines and slow production meant it did not enter service until December The majority of the bomber aircraft involved in the Battle of Britain were German although the Italians fielded a small number.
The Luftwaffe in primarily relied on three twin-engined medium bombers: the Dornier Do 17 , the Heinkel He and the Junkers Ju The Junkers Ju 88 was fitted with external dive brakes and a control system, similar to those of the Ju 87 and could carry out a dive bombing role, although it was primarily used as a level bomber.
The light bomb loads carried by the Ju 87 had been used to great effect during the Battle of France. However, the Ju 87 was slow and possessed an inadequate degree of defensive weaponry, with only a single, 7. Furthermore, it could not be effectively protected by fighters, because of its low speed and the very low altitudes at which it ended its dive bomb attacks.
The Stuka depended on air superiority, the very thing being contested over Britain. It was therefore withdrawn from attacks on Britain in August after prohibitive losses, leaving the Luftwaffe short of precision ground-attack aircraft.
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Another constraint was imposed by the light armament carried by the Luftwaffe bombers. At the start of the battle they were still armed with an average of three hand held MG 15 light machine guns, which were supplied by 75 round "saddle" magazines. When faced with concentrated attacks by modern fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire this proved totally inadequate.
Although many of the Luftwaffe gunners were well trained and capable of hitting a fast moving fighter the damage done was seldom enough to stop the attack in time to prevent heavy damage being done to the bomber. The high rate of fire of the MG 15 meant that the small magazines emptied quickly; the time taken to reload often gave a fighter the time it needed to make a successful attack. Efforts had been made to increase the number of defensive weapons, but this also meant that because the weapons were hand-held either more crew members were needed in each aircraft, or the existing crew members could be overworked.
It was a problem which was never to be fully resolved and the Luftwaffe bombers had to rely on the ability of their fighters to protect their formations. The bombers did enjoy some advantages. As more armour plate was added in vital areas, crew members became less vulnerable. Their fuel tanks were also well protected by layers of self-sealing rubber, although the incendiary and tracer ammunition which was carried by RAF fighters could sometimes ignite fuel vapour in empty tanks. Subsequent variants allowed further increase in the bomb load and the maximum size of bombs carried, with external bomb racks.
The state-of-the art Lotfernrohr 7 gyroscoping bomb sight fitted to the Heinkel allowed for reasonable accuracy, for a level bomber. Gruppe Kampfgeschwader 26 began to take part in the Blitz of the winter of — The Do 17Z was an older type of German bomber that was no longer in production by the start of the Battle.
Still, many Kampfgeschwadern still operated the Dornier, known as "the flying pencil" due to its sleek fuselage. Its air-cooled radial BMW engines meant that many of these aircraft were able to survive fighter attack because there was no vulnerable cooling system to disable. The main problem with the Dornier was its limited mile combat range, when fully loaded with bombs. Of the four types of bomber used by the Luftwaffe the Ju 88 the original Schnellbomber was considered to be the most difficult to shoot down.
As a bomber it was relatively manoeuvrable and, especially at low altitudes with no bomb load, it was fast enough to ensure that a Spitfire engaged in a tail-chase would be hard pressed to catch up. The Ju 88 was also extremely versatile, being fitted with both the Lotfernrohr 7 gyroscopic bomb sight and Stuvi dive sight as well as retractable dive brakes. The front MG 15 machine gun could be locked with an ingenious retracting clamp just forward of the windscreen to lock it for forwards firing, and could be used for strafing runs.
Thus the Ju 88, dubbed as the "Big Stuka", was equally at home when it came to level or dive bombing or low-level attacks. The versions of the Ju 88 used during the battle were the small-wingtipped A-1 and the A-5; the latter incorporated several improvements, including the A-4's increased In reality, the Ju 88, although operating in smaller numbers than the Do 17 and He , suffered the highest losses of the three German bomber types.
Losses of Do 17 and He s amounted to and machines destroyed respectively, while Ju 88s were lost. The bomber element consisted of some 70 Fiat BR. The Italian BR. The Italian bomber force flew limited operations undertaken were commenced towards the end of the battle. The CAI's bombers flew about sorties, only one of which attained any notable success— severe damage being caused to a canning factory in Lowestoft by a raid on 29 November , which killed three people.
The first mission on 25 October,  a night attack of 16 aircraft on Harwich and led to three bombers being lost, with one crashing on takeoff and two becoming lost on their return. On 11 November a formation of 10 BR. Three bombers were downed and three CR. Only the squadrons listed as Battle of Britain RAF squadrons were counted as being part of the Battle of Britain for the award of a campaign medal.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Aircraft of the Battle of Britain R flew 49 sorties while on Squadron during the Battle of Britain, and is currently the only Battle of Britain Hurricane still flying. This work was completed by 7 October. In practice the mechanism usually failed to work. Archived from the original on 6 March Retrieved 7 February Reprint: Luftfahrt-Archiv Hafner. Retrieved: 2 January Retrieved: 15 June London: The Ministry of Fuel and Power, Retrieved March Retrieved: 17 October Ansell, Mark.