Saturday, April 18, 2015

Iconic Aircraft

Spitfire Mk Vb #AB910, built in 1941, she is painted in the colors of the Polish 303 Squadron;
the Donald Duck symbol is the personal logo of Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach.

Photo by Adrian Pingstone (Arpingstone) - Own Work. (Source)
Those of you who have been following the blog for a while will know of my absolute love for the Supermarine Spitfire and all of its lovely variants. Some of you have taken me to task for this love.

"What about the P-51 Mustang?" they would ask. How could I possibly favor the British Spitfire over the P-51 Mustang? Well, that's a tough question.


Both are beautiful aircraft, deadly in the hands of a skilled pilot as many foes discovered during the years when World War Two raged. Both are solid designs, the P-51 perhaps a bit better as regards armament and certainly far superior in range.

No Spitfire would fly to Berlin and back. Many a Mustang did.

I do recall that the P-51 started out as a bit of a dog. (Hush now. It's true, read your history.) We gave (sold?) them to the Brits and it was they, our cousins across the pond, who had the inspiration to mount in that lovely airframe the engine they used for their own top of the line fighter.

The Rolls Royce Merlin.

"Rolls-Royce Merlin"
Photo by JAW at English Wikipedia - Own work. CC

So while I do have a deep and abiding affection for the magnificent P-51 Mustang (and all it's lovely variants), my first love is that elliptical-winged beauty designed by Mr. Mitchell.

The Spitfire.


Recently a comrade-in-arms of mine posted a video of an event which took place at Duxford back in 2010. A flyby of Spitfires in squadron strength.

Sixteen Spitfires, in formation, a sight seldom seen since the late summer and early fall of 1940. When a relative handful of brave young men in their Spitfires and Hurricanes stood tall against the might of the Deutsches Luftwaffe.

And won.


I love the sound of that Merlin engine, regardless of which aircraft it's mounted in!

30 comments:

  1. Great vids, Sarge. Yeah, I have a hard time settling on one favorite. The Spit is up there as is the Mustang, but also the Corsair and Mosquito. Sometimes it's one then it's the other.

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    1. The Spitfire is my favorite, but that race was won by a nose!

      I'm also partial to some of the Axis birds as well: Me-109, Fw-190 and (of course) the Zero.

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  2. The Spit MK II- apparently the most enchanting of the variants so I have read. The BoB Memorial Flight RAF pilots were partial to over the others. Don't know your height and build Juvat but I doubt I'd fit in one. At the age of the pilots is WWII, I was 6'2" and 210 . And I am a generation removed from that group. I found the cockpit of the P-47 D roomy enough by dropping the seat. The Corsair -7 cockpit was ok for me but wouldn't want to spend long periods in it.

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    1. Back in my fighting days, it would have been a bit tight, but I'd have fit. Now.....Not so much. :-)

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    2. Dust - I saw a video (may have posted it, can't remember, we all know how that goes) but they had a pilot comparing the "roominess" of the Me-109 and Spitfire cockpits. Both were tight, the Messerschmidt even more so that the Spit IIRC.

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    3. Juvat - are you sure it's you? I noticed that all my old uniforms, sitting in closets these last 16 years, all seem to have shrunk. Perhaps the old warbirds shrink over time too. Maybe?

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    4. One can only hope that's the reason.

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  3. Love both the Spitfire and the P51 but being a Navy type I'm fond of the F4U Corsair. Must be Pappy and Black Sheep Squadron. Loved that show.

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    1. I too loved that show. The Corsair is an awesome bird.

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  4. I'd certainly say "thank you" for a free Spitfire (or Mustang), but I'm a Corsair guy, because sometimes you just gotta whack those little guys down on the ground and the in addition to being a fantastic fighter, Corsair was a ground-attack GOD.

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    1. I know your love of the Corsair Murph.

      And you're right, the Marines used them to good effect in Korea.

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  5. One of the first books I read as a lad, that wasn't required reading in school, was of the Spitfire pilots in the Battle of Britain. I hadn't thought of that in years!

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  6. The history of the Spitfire is amazing too. And while I can't remember the exact circumstances I remember that it came close to not being produced. And its designer, Reginald Mitchel, worked on it even though dying of cancer - 24 varients and models proved it was a versatile airplane.

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    1. And the Brits made a movie about RJ Mitchell. Good for morale, you see.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK62o5I3QRg

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    2. William, your memory serves you well,

      The British public first saw the Spitfire at the RAF Hendon air-display on Saturday 27 June 1936. Although full-scale production was supposed to begin immediately, there were numerous problems that could not be overcome for some time and the first production Spitfire, K9787, did not roll off the Woolston, Southampton assembly line until mid-1938. The first and most immediate problem was that the main Supermarine factory at Woolston was already working at full capacity fulfilling orders for Walrus and Stranraer flying boats. Although outside contractors were supposed to be involved in manufacturing many important Spitfire components, especially the wings, Vickers-Armstrong (the parent company) was reluctant to see the Spitfire being manufactured by outside concerns and was slow to release the necessary blueprints and subcomponents. As a result of the delays in getting the Spitfire into full production, the Air Ministry put forward a plan that production of the Spitfire be stopped after the initial order for 310, after which Supermarine would build Bristol Beaufighters. The managements of Supermarine and Vickers were able to convince the Air Ministry that the problems could be overcome and further orders were placed for 200 Spitfires on 24 March 1938, the two orders covering the K, L and N prefix serial numbers. - Wikipedia

      I mean really, gotta have those flying boats.

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    3. XBradTC - Excellent for morale.

      (And now I have another YouTube channel to occupy my mind. Not sure if that's good or bad.)

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  7. Beautiful aircraft, but like any machine, only as good as the person flying it. Kudos to the Commonwealth and their allies (Poles, Danes, Norwegians, etc) that flew them.

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    1. Absolutely right WSF. A good pilot in a mediocre machine will beat a bad pilot in a good machine most of the time.

      The pilots who flew the Spitfire behaved superbly.

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  8. Armstrong-Vickers got a lot out of that airframe.

    Hawker arguably got a bit more out of theirs.

    The first three minutes of this features three Spits. Great giggle.

    https://youtu.be/n5xd97HeY70

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  9. All right you guys. I'm breaking out my DVD of "The Battle of Britain" and watching it yet again.

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  10. Mmmmmm. Maggie Harvey. Smashing bird!

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  11. Sarge, forgive my trolling but here's an interview with a Spitfire pilot who did fly from England to Berlin and back. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ie3SrjLlcUY

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    1. It's not trolling if it increases my knowledge.

      Oh yeah, and the knowledge of my readers as well.

      Thanks for the link!

      Delete
  12. Sarge, if you have never been to EAA's Air Venture in Oshkosh, you should try and go. Lot's of warbirds on display to include Spitfires and Mustangs. It runs the last week of July every summer. This year, they're having a B-52 and F-35A on static display. BTM's Dad (we met on the Reagan)

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    1. BTM's Dad! Great to have you stop by, I remember you from that day on the REAGAN. Your son is a great guy. (Great callsign too. Heh.)

      I have to get out to Oshkosh one of these days. I have heard many great things about the Air Venture. Like a friend of mine once said, so many air shows, so little time.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)