Blog powered by Typepad

« Roll up, roll up, the greatest show on earth is about to begin! | Main | An 'arty-farty' Friday »

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

You really should watch more war movies. If for example you had watched the opening twenty minutes of the Battle of Britain you could have seen with your own eyes why the Spitfire was not the best fighter aircraft of the time. Advanced in some respects but if you knew anything about aeronautics you'd probably ask why the elliptical wing was not used on any other aircraft or even later versions of the Spitfire. But look up Valiant and Spiteful and NACA and you'll see why.

In the movie there is a scene early on where a young pilot does a celebratory barrel roll over the field before he lands. In a real Spitfire of course, and you can both see and hear his engine cut out when he is upside down. That's because the engine used a gravity fed carburetor. Whereas the Germans had fuel injection which does not cut out in negative g maneuvers. And if you think about that for about three seconds you just might come to the conclusion that having your engine cut out in high speed maneuvers wasn't all that hot.

Oh and the Hawker Hurricanes did most of the heavy lifting during the Battle of Britain.

It's no wonder we lost the war!

"Die-hard defenders of the Hurricane are quick to comment that the Hawker aircraft is credited with shooting down more enemy aircraft than the Spitfire. 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. And the cynics would have a point."

Peter G,

The elliptical wing enabled the Spit to deploy 8 Browning MMG's, 4 in each wing, which was not so easy with other designs. I believe the original Spit actually had 12 Brownings, 6 in each wing.

It also offered less drag thereby making it faster, and gave it a shorter turning circle (shorter even than the smaller ME BF109E).

The turning circle advantage meant there was no cause for doing a barrel rolls in combat, therefore the carburettor comment is spurious. If you wanted to outmanoeuvre a 109 you just put the Spit into a turn, and turned inside it - thanks to the elliptical wing. So easy, even a Yank could manage it: -

"P/O Art Donahue, an American serving with No 64 Squadron, described his 8 August combat with a Me 109:
Then one got on my tail and gave me a burst just as I saw him, and I laid over into a vertical turn; and as he did likewise, following me, I hauled my Spitfire around as tight as I could. We were going fast and I had to lean forward and hold my breath to keep from blacking out, and I turned this way for several seconds. Then I eased my turn so that I could straighten up and look out my cockpit, and I spotted the other in front of me. I had turned around on his tail now. He apparently became aware of it at the same time, for he abandoned his turn and took to flight; but he was a little late now."

I take your point about the Hurricane though, btw, that actually had a turning circle less than a Spitfire, and was a great aircraft also.

So one design goal (whatever it was that you came up with) was traded in for three gained.

But it goes further than that, Peter G, much, much further ...

"Handsome is as handsome does".

And it did.


If you've got an idle moment, try reading some of the Spit pilot accounts in this ...


It is much easier to destroy than to create. Orders of magnitude easier. And nature's universal destroyer is entropy, which may ultimately lead to the heat death of the universe itself.

Criticism, as opposed to creativity, is also much easier. That is why brutish Visigoths were able to destroy Rome and some crazy woman was able to deface Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa". It is also trivial to find contradictory information about any topic of discussion with Google.

Can you confirm whether PG is a junior high-school student, a hoser off his meds, or an attack dog?

"The total number of enemy aircraft brought down by single-seater fighters was in the proportion of 3 by Hurricanes to 2 by Spitfires"

True, but there were twice as many Hurricanes as Spits in the Battle of Britain ...

"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."

Plus the Spits had the trickier task of tackling ME109's, whereas the Hurricanes were tasked with the bombers.


I read recently that a Hurricane which was crashlanded and burnt out on the beach at Dunkirk was recovered. It's now flyable after 25,000 hours and £2 million pounds!

And another thing : of the world's fifteen airworthy hurricanes, five flew in formation at Duxford recently. My pic of them - it's not a pasteup! - is at -

Hey Boys why don't you try reading a book. The Spitfire was a beautiful aircraft certainly and an excellent war machine. But engineering is all about compromise and aircraft design is about the flight envelope. Did I say something that wasn't easily verifiable about its lack of fuel injection and how that affected its flight characteristics? Isn't that true? And aren't the comparable flight characteristics on altitude, turn radius, negative g capability and maximum dive speed with say, the ME109, readily available? Even later versions of the Spitfire weren't superior to later German aircraft like the Focke Wulfe 190 like the A@ and A3 variants

The Battle of Britain was won because radar control of flights allowed aircraft to be vectored to incoming targets, mostly slow lumbering bombers over Britain whereas the German fighters were tied to protecting bombers and at very nearly the limit of their flight range. It says nothing for the plane when you cite how many bombers or sitting ducks it shot down.

You might want to consider this: attributing that victory merely to a mythical technical superiority of the Spitfire takes away from the valor men who flew them in the face of superior numbers and the others on the ground who made that victory possible.

Yo Pompous,

I know a consortium of fellers owns a Spit - an' maybe even given my advancing age they'll let me take to the controls again.

Reckon Pompous you can get yourself situated in a 109?

If so I'll meet you over Lake Superior an' we'll have us a paintball fight.

It'll be fun. We can put it on YouTube and feature the result here on D&N.

Whaddaya ya say hot-rod?

From Feinstein's article referenced by Duffers.

A clear indication of the Spitfire’s unmatched excellence came from an unlikely source, none other than General Adolf Galland, high-ranking German ace, who became head of all of Germany’s fighter forces later in the war. When asked by Hermann Göring (Reichsmarschall of the Luftwaffe) what he needed to be more successful in battle, Galland famously replied, “I should like a staffel [squadron] of Spitfires for my gruppe!”

Opinions by Adolf Galland and PG on the Spitfire - I think I'll opt for Galland who had to fight them.

It's worth seeing although I gave it a mixed review on my blog, BREXIT 1940


Is said Spit twin seated? And any idea how much said consortium would ask for, for a flight in said Spit?

You said "again"? You mean you've actually flown it!?


This thread is proof of D&N's most endearing quality: It's Gaffer and Commentariat consist entirely of folks who immature with age.

I mean, when was the last time you had an argument with someone about the merits of the Spitfire vs the ME109 and got all hot under the collar? I think I was 15.


"If you want to shake someone off your tail you have to fly your Spitfire to its limits. In a tight turn you increase the G loading to such an extent that the wings can no longer support the weight and the plane stalls, with momentary loss of control. However, in a Spitfire, just before the stall, the whole aircraft judders, it's a stall warning if you like. With practice and experience you can hold the plane on this judder on a very tight turn. You never actually stall the aircraft and you don't need to struggle to regain control because you never lose it. A 109 can't stay with you."

Written by Geoffrey Wellum in his book First Light, recounting his experiences as a nineteen year old pilot in the Battle of Britain. Although I'm sure PG will be along to correct him shortly.

"I think I was 15." Have you ever read Amazon book reviews or iTunes film reviews? They are written by people like PG - 15 year-olds in their Mom's basement.

Dunkirk, eh? Gives me the opportunity to stick in my oar with a theory about Hitler's decision re the B.E.F. which I haven't yet seen advanced by any historian of the times.
Hitler was no fool; he'd studied the campaign of August 1914 closely, as had his senior generals, many of whom had actually fought in it. The 'Miracle of the Marne' must have been uppermost in their thoughts as they contemplated, with dazed disbelief, the victory they had won so far. 'August '14' come again, they may have suspected, they knew the perils of over-confidence. So far, it must have seemed to them too easy, this three week armoured dash across Northern France, unsupported on its flanks by infantry, mostly unmechanised, struggling to keep up. France, they may have thought, had suffered a defeat but was by no means out of the battle whilst so much of its military power remained. France was the main enemy, not Britain, and the German armour, fully repaired, supplied, and brought up to strength, would be needed for the next battle, a battle in which, perhaps, armoured thrusts might not be so effective.
Let the British go – if they could. They wouldn't be back for a long time, if ever.

Glyn, welcome to D&N and thanks for that comment. I'm pressed for time just now but I may return to it later.

Yo Jk why don't you stick that in your Tilly's orifice and smoke it. Oooh you had a ride in a plane! Well that certainly is a wonderful and compelling argument!

Galland? That name rings a bell. Say isn't he the guy who racked up 96 victories by 1941. Including a whole lot of Hurricanes and Spits in the Battle of Britain, there being then no British bombers to up his score. He must have been practically superhuman in order to do that against such superior aircraft as the Spitfire don't you think Aussie D? He should have wished for better radar.

Peter G.

A number of posters on D&N have racked up an impressive amount of military service between us. (David, myself and Lawrence are all ex-airborne) and the sum of military knowledge on the blog is considerable. You are more than welcome to post on military matters - we love discussing such things -however, let me offer one word of advice. Make sure you know what you are talking about first. You may find the link below informative. Here, Gunther Rall, the third highest scoring ace in aviation history. explains why German pilots had such high tallies.

Your failed attempt re Adolf Galland convinces me you are nought but a Troll Pompous G and I doubt you have ever been in one of the Armed Services from your asinine comments on matters "military". You would be known as a PONTI so have fun looking that up.

You noticed "Cuffers" Bob, some time ago, replying to me - Bob (with some humility ... I think) gave me some degree of ... ... what I don't know (our host had taken a break and, I did my USA best to fill in)

Bob gave me what I consider the penultimate - I appreciated it at the time but, Bob later gave the better - compliment, "JK you're a clever fellow"... but *I'm pretty sure* Cuffers, you recognize what's happening.

Pompous G is gonna step on his dick. ... "Slapped upside the head with a dick" is how my unkindlier hillbilly associates would, regularly put it.

F'instance Cuffers, not so many days ago Pompous G railed that, "May I remind you [addressing TBH] that, while you were pussying around, We Canadians were busy winning WWII" forgetting perhaps, just how the Canadians managed to get to England ... which is "a moot" in my personal case as, our host (and SoD come to think of it) know a fact or two Pompous G cannot possibly be in possession of.

And, I'm busily noting Pompous G's grammar (which is a "tell" ... Bob I think would even, make note and admittance of that) ... SoD probably not so much. That's why I'm labeling Pompous G, The Diapered Denizen of Duffdom with all that entails.

Aussie D perhaps is the only fellow follows D&N recognizes the "content" of what I say when I admit I, first was enlisted then, I got "carrier-qualed [F-14 Tomcat] then "the-Powers-that-were" decided I, JK, (these were the days before weather-satellites) was a "good candidate" to attend Meteorology School and then only, to get marooned.

Pompous G don't amount to me a hill of beans.

It's not, Cuffleyburgers as you "suspect" its the opposite. I've got seven Navy Expeditionary Medals (two of which were Unit recognitions) but I figure Cuffers you, suspected "something" along those lines.

No brag. Just fact. (US TV show - Walter Brennan as I recall, probably searchable on wiki)

(Yeah SoD, there's an airfield just west of Wichita Kansas [USA] where the - formerly known as the Confederate Air Force ... by joining (giving money) ... I was made a Colonel which, since I was already a USN LtCmdr, caused "more than a few problems" whenever I showed up at a VA - Bethesda especially - facility.

Yeah I flew it. Not as much "fun" as the P-47 though. And I've "handled" a P-51 - that was a chore - the Cadillac though was the P-38.

Note SoD "Redwing Airport" just west-north of the Beech-plant outta Wichita Kansas hangars a bunch of warbirds.),_Kansas

A media account of what going to Meteorological School "implied" (yeah it's an old account)

SoD? I've written a book and there's a "de-classification process" I'll need pass - you know what I mean SoD? ... I've got it in manuscript but, as yet, "not cleared."

Send in the Weathermen!


You would have to be terminally brain dead to accept the word of someone who has read about an aircraft in a book over that of a pilot who has actually flown one!!!

Lets look on the bright side though, young Pompous has given me the biggest laugh I have ever had on D&N, and as you can imagine, that covers quite a bit of ground.

Long may you continue to fly,


Wow JK.

That's half my bucket list you've done there!


You've never fooled me with that Snuffy Smith stuff, JK.

Three WWII fighter aircraft used the elliptical wing - Brit Spitfire, US P47 Thunderbolt, and the German Heinkel HE-280.

Thank you, Davod, good to have a bit of expertise on this blog!

Well Davod, I was kinda hoping our resident ... ... well ... I was kinda hoping a particular personage would check the details on my mentioned aircraft in order to (gasp!) disparage me.

Oh and Richard, occasionally I'll find myself dreaming of being in some aircraft's cockpit. Always "good dreams" best of all.

FAA jerked my medical certificate some years back but fortunately (very) occasionally there'll be a right-seater "needs to" take a leak.

It is said I look like a fourteen-year-old fondling his first titty. And I suppose that's probably true.

The comments to this entry are closed.