Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Any pilot should fly a Spitfire at least once...

A preserved PR Mk XI Spitfire (PL965) in PRU Blue (2008)
Photo by Adrian Pingstone (Arpingstone) - Own work.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - Source
The other day I noted that I had turned off "Any Mouse" (anonymous) comments on the blog. I remember doing that a while back as it seemed to let a number of annoying things to occur in the comments. I thought about it and decided to allow those type comments again.

Okay, what does that have to do with that reconnaissance Spitfire in the lead photo?

In this post the other day I made the following statements as regards the Spitfire's range versus the Mustang's range...
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.
Well yes and no...

There were Spitfires that could fly to Berlin and back. An anonymous reader sent me a link to the following YouTube video.

A great story.

Yup, Lieutenant John Blythe flew his reconnaissance Spitfire to Berlin and back. So it was do-able.

Okay, okay so reconnaissance Spitfires are not going to escort B-17s to Berlin and back, like the P-51 did. But hey, someone had to take pictures of the targets, before and after.

They were unarmed but man oh man, trying to take on a Spitfire, armed or otherwise, isn't for the unskilled. No sir.

Good thing I allowed anonymous commenters again, isn't it?

Heh. I stand corrected.


  1. If I had a Spitfire, that mystery helicopter that messed with me over Mt. Weather when I was flying my Cessna would rue the day...rue it, he would. I'd seriously make him rue it.
    Yeah, I need me a Spitfire. And that MkXI would fit in my hangar spot nicely.

    1. That helo driver would rue the day he messed with you right up until the point he impacted terrain.

      I do love the Spitfire!

  2. What is really, really, gobsmacking astonishing is the evolution of piston engine aircraft over the short period between 1935 and the end of the war. A century or more of routine development crammed into a decade. Wood and string and fabric and multiple wings became smooth, aerodynamic, metal monoplanes. All-up weights doubled, doubled, and doubled again and speeds did the same. Lindbergh puttered across the Atlantic in '27 and not much had changed by '35, yet ferry flights across the pond were already becoming routine by '39. The best engines of the day were making 500-700 hp in 1935. By 1940 it was 2,000 hp and by the end of the war you could get far more hp out of an engine than you could use, despite the advancement in propellers, which were hand carved wood in '35 and true engineering marvels at the end of the war. Avgas went from murky lighter fluid in 1935 to an amazing liquid chemical powerhouse in 1945. I'm not sure the world has ever seen the like.

    1. Add about 5 more years into that time period and it's even more astonishing. In 1935, the most advanced bomber was the B-17 with a cruise speed of ~200 and a range of 2000 nm. The B-52 could literally fly around the world, even unrefueled was able to fly 12000NM + (Kadena AB to Torrejon Spain). Century series fighters able to reach Mach 2 were entering service. All this in a period of about 25 years.
      Couple that with now. The F-15 that had my name on it was built in 1978 and is still in operational service. The equivalent would have been going into WWII with Spads.
      The F-22 is a great airplane and a game changer. The F-35 is still in a "We'll See, status". Both however are ridiculously expensive. My opinion is we need a little bit of the philosophy "Quantity has a quality all its own". Just sayin'

    2. It is amazing the progress made in those years.

    3. Forgot to mention, my late maternal Grandmother often mentioned that when she was born, the Wright brothers hadn't done their thing yet.

      She lived to see men walk on the moon. She also got to see the Space Shuttle. Amazing the progress made in less than a century.

  3. That is a great story! Took big brass balls to fly over Berlin by yourself in an unarmed aircraft!

  4. Sarge, if you have never been to EAA's Air Venture in Oshkosh, you should try and go. Lot's of warbirds on display including Spitfires and Mustangs. This year, a B-52 and F-35 is scheduled to be on static display too. Air Venture runs for a week the end of July each year. BTM's Dad (we met on the Reagan)


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