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The Fewest of the Few: How the Supermarine Spitfire Won the Battle of Britain

The Fewest of the Few: How the Supermarine Spitfire Won the Battle of Britain

Those who have previously studied the Battle of Britain have most often come the conclusion that, although the Spitfire was an integral part to the Royal Air Force’s defense of Britain, it was ultimately the workhorse Hawker Hurricane that won the battle. However, a new theory proposed by aviation historian Ryan Clauser challenges that school of thought. Using sources such as pilot records and daily RAF logs, Clauser challenges the status quo and sets out to prove that it was indeed the legendary Spitfire that won the Battle of Britain.

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In the midst of a raging aerial battle Prime Minister Winston Churchill took the radio waves to praise the brave pilots who were defending the Island nation.[1]  In this renowned address Churchill so eloquently stated that, “never was so much owed by so many to so few.”[2] Among the few that Churchill mentioned, there was another group.  They were the fewest of the few, it was the aircraft that became the legendary Spitfire.  While the Spitfire had the smallest amount of combatants in the battle its influence on the outcome of conflict was great.  This aircraft was relied upon for countless duties and accounted for a large portion of enemy aircraft shot down.  Its pilots adored flying it and the enemy feared it.  The Spitfire was the ultimate weapon that England possessed.[3]

While the Spitfire was not the only fighter that the Royal Air Force was using, it was clearly the most superior.  This factor shows that the Spitfire was a key element in winning the Battle of Britain.  This soon to be legendary aircraft also played other vital roles in helping the British cause. The Spitfire helped gain air superiority, it was a fierce competitor in combat, the RAF  built their strategy around it, and maybe most importantly, the Spitfire had a psychological effect on the both the men who flew in them and the men who flew against them.[4]

The Spitfire rose to a fabled status during the Battle of Britain.[5]  However, the plane that became a legend almost never made it into the air.  In the late 1920’s Supermarine head engineer Reginald J. Mitchell had the idea of building a fighter aircraft using previous racing planes as his inspiration.[6]  Mitchell had previously designed two racing aircraft in 1922 and 1927 that were among the best racing planes of their time.[7]  For Mitchell to make this feat possible he knew that he had to create a plane with a big engine, a sleek streamlined fuselage that would cut down on drag, and most importantly a thin yet strong wing that would be able to help the plane’s speed but also be able to hold the fighter’s guns.[8]

While Mitchell was confident in his design and what he was doing, he was seemingly the only one.   Almost every outside channel that Mitchell had to go through to get his project airborne was highly skeptical that it could be done or would be practical.[9]  Even the Royal Air force (RAF) was skeptical of Mitchell.[10]  The first and most drastic concern about this project was that some felt this type of plane could not be made into a successful fighter, and that it would only be good as a racer.[11] The RAF was also worried, that if the plane could work as a fighter it would be too hard to mass-produce, and even harder to maintain.[12]  Two of the final obstacles that faced Mitchell and the Spitfire were out of the designer’s hands.  Both of these concerns were levied by RAF officials and truly worried them.  The first was that this racer/fighter hybrid was unconventional, untested, and that they would only truly be able to see what this plane could do once it was in a combat situation.[13]   Next, was a concern that Supermarine, which was a division of Victory Aircraft, was not an experienced company when it came to researching for this type of aircraft.  These obstacles proved to be problematic for Supermarine and Mitchell, however, through hard work and a little luck they were eventually overcoem.[14]

While Mitchell and Supermarine were focused on building what would become the Spitfire, another aircraft manufacturer had it’s sights set on building what they hoped would be the RAF’s main fighter.  Sidney Camm, a designer for the Hawker company was in the process of designing the Hawker Hurricane.[15]  Camm’s first step into building his fighter was to simply remove the top wing of a Fury biplane and close off the cock pit.[16]  While what Camm was doing was not all that innovative it was winning favor with the RAF command because of its more conventional roots.[17]  Another reason that the administrators in the RAF were impressed with the Hurricane was because it was a flying gun platform.[18]  The Hurricane, unlike the Spitfire, was designed to have a thick wing, this design made fitting, and firing eight machine guns much easier.[19] These combined elements gave the RAF a much more confidant outlook on the Hurricane then the Spitfire.[20]

Luckily for the future of the Spitfire, Supermarine did have a top RAF official on their side.  Air Vice Marshall Hugh Dowding was one of the few that believed in what the Spitfire could do, and even went as far to push for the mass production and service of the fighter.[21]  In defense of creating and mass-producing the Spitfire Dowding wrote, “the best defense of the country is fear of the fighter.”[22] Dowding’s unwavering support of the Spitfire challenged his colleagues, to see the importance of the Spitfire.  During the mid 1930’s many high-ranking British military officials believed that aerial combat was nothing more than fancy aerobatics with some shooting involved.[23]  Dowding, who by all accounts was a rather difficult individual, stood firmly against this idea and believed in the importance of air power.[24]

While most military officials doubted the early Spitfire, Supermarine knew exactly what it could do and what would make it all possible. The key factor for the Spitfire was it’s engine.[25]  The aircraft ran on a Rolls Royce V-12 engine (later renamed the Merlin) capable of producing 1000 to 1030 horsepower.[26]  Between the size of this supercharged engine and the aerodynamic design of the plane, it allowed the Spitfire to be the fastest plane in the sky, being able to reach speeds ranging from 362 to 367 miler per hour.[27]  The other great strength that the Spitfire possessed was its thin wing.  The wing of the Spitfire, called an elliptical wing, was designed in a shape to cut down on drag and create  better airflow.[28]

Finally, on March 5, 1936 the first Spitfire dubbed K5054 took flight.[29]  While the British Air Ministry had already been giving money to fund the Supermarine project, after this flight they ordered 310 of the aircraft that would soon be named the Spitfire.[30]  While the order of 310 aircraft was a victory for Supermarine, they yet again faced adversity.  This time Supermarine had to face the problem of manufacturing, they nor their parent company Victory had the space to produce this quantity of aircraft.[31]  Furthermore, the British Air Ministry noticed that a Spitfire required  30% more manual labor to build than did the Hurricane, and considered canceling any further orders of the fighter.[32] In August of 1938 No. 19 squadron became the first squadron to be equipped with the deadly fighter.[33]

While the Spitfire was proving itself to the RAF, the pilots of the Luftwaffe, were unimpressed and thought of it as nothing more than a, “pretty little toy.”[34]  By the time that Spitfire squadrons were operational in 1940, the Luftwaffe had been busy testing its own planes in combat.[35]  The Me-109 and its pilots already had flown several missions in Spain and had an air of overconfidence about them.[36]  However, this feeling may have also been boosted because of how they felt about their own aircraft.  The German fighter was a solid war machine with a top speed of 355-357 miles per hour.[37]  The Me-109 also boasted a fuel injection system in its engine that allowed the plane to go into steep dives without it stopping.  Although some of these factors seemingly gave this Messerschmitt an advantage, the real test came once the two aircraft met in the sky.[38]

Throughout the earliest stages of the Second World War, prior to the Battle of Britain, the German Luftwaffe was able to gain complete air superiority.  Aircraft had become the ideal weapon, and played a role in Adolf Hitler’s blitzkrieg battle tactic.  Hitler’s forces had run rampant throughout Europe, and with the fall of France a full on aerial assault of Great Britain was the final step for complete fascist domination of the continent.[39]

The Luftwaffe was able to hold a strong advantage over their opponents.  Up to this time it was believed by military strategists that the attacking air force would have the upper hand in battle. Germany followed and believed in this strategy wholeheartedly as they were constantly the aggressor in their attacks.  Furthermore the German air raids throughout the conflict focused on the major economic centers of England, such as London.  These bombings were also focused on areas with high civilian populations.  Due to the use of aircraft the Luftwaffe was able to take the war straight to the British people in hopes that it would force Prime Minister Winston Churchill to surrender.[40]

By the time the French forces were crumbling in the spring of 1940 the Luftwaffe had already built quite the reputation for itself.  However, for the first time the Luftwaffe was left with no ground support in an attack on the beach city of Dunkirk.  On May 30th, 1940 England arranged for the evacuation of 338,226 French soldiers. The Luftwaffe’s goal for this day was to sink the English ships. However both Spitfires and Hurricanes flew cover for the evacuation ships and engaged in combat with German aircraft for the first time.  The Luftwaffe sent an assortment of flights with various types of aircraft to attack the escaping convoy of ships, these flights were mostly made up of JU-87 Stuka dive-bombers as well as the ME-109 fighters that flew cover for the Stukas.  While the fighting was violent and the number of casualties was great, somehow the outnumbered British forces managed to hold off the attacking the Luftwaffe long enough for ships to escape across the English Channel.[41]

After the evacuation at Dunkirk it was clear that war with England would be inevitable and Hitler put all of his faith in Herman Göring and the Luftwaffe.  Hitler believed the best course of strategy was to not risk any of his ground forces and solely rely on his Air Force to crush the British military.  Across the English Channel it was becoming increasingly clear that the British would soon be facing an attack.  Not only was England facing a large-scale attack but they were also wildly outnumbered. [42]

Throughout the Battle of Britain the Spitfire was involved in countless dogfights with every plane that the Luftwaffe sent. Pilots of the Spitfire were able to use the planes superior abilities to outmaneuver and defeat the German invader.[43]  On one occasion Wing Commander John Freeborn recalled that:

I had the advantage of height and ordered ‘line astern’ and attacked the Me 109s as they  climbed to attack.  I engaged one enemy aircraft and opened fire at approximately 50 yards.  My  bullets entered the enemy aircraft and it seemed to knock it sideways.  This aircraft then just ‘dropped out of the sky’ and was seen to go down out of control by observers at Manston.  I  then turned to attack another Me-109.  This latter enemy aircraft was taken off my tail by Red 2.  Several other enemy aircraft got on my tail.  They were very easy to shake off.[44]

 

Wing Commander Freeborn’s report shows some of the most important aspects of the Spitfire in combat.  This document shows that the eight machine guns mounted in the wing of the plane were not only deadly but very powerful.  The force from firing the guns would often cause the aircraft to shudder and slow down because of the recoil; however, this immense firepower on occasion dislodged the engines of the some of the Luftwaffe’s most heavily armored bombers.  While the guns on the Spitfire were highly important to its performance in combat, a new sighting system on these planes ensured for a higher hit percentage on shots fired.   The Spitfire was fortunate enough to have an electric sight.  This was completely controlled by the pilot, as they could turn it off and on as they saw fit.  Once on, this sight would emit and orange dot on the wind shield that would allow for the pilot to become a better shot.[45]

The Spitfire held another great advantage in combat, this was that it was much more maneuverable in a dogfight compared to any German plane.  The British fighter could be stressed much harder than the Me-109, so much so that if the Me 109 would attempt to maneuver in the same manner as its British counter part the structural integrity of the plane would fail.[46]  After observing this phenomenon Luftwaffe Ace Adolf Galland would later write, “We were no longer in doubt that the RAF would prove to be a most formidable opponent.”[47]  Repeatedly, the maneuverability of the Spitfire saved pilots lives.  Arthur Donahue, a United States pilot flying for the British during the battle, found himself in a rather dangerous spot.  Without being able to fire his guns, Donahue was being chased by an enemy fighter.  Luckily he was able to use the superior speed and maneuverability of the Spitfire to get away from his would be attacker.[48]  This incident would lead to Donahue to consider the Spitfire, “nerve calming” even in combat.[49]

Although the Spitfire would prove itself effective while being chased, pilots also had to contend with the rear gunners of several Luftwaffe planes. The rear guns in planes such as the Me-110 presented much more danger to pilots than being shot at from behind.  Not only was it more likely for a pilot to be directly shot, a rear gunner would also have a clear sight line at the powerful engine of the Spitfire.[50]  Squadron Leader Tony Iveson would be one of the men who was forced to deal with a dieing engine after having it severely damaged:

Slowly I got closer and closer to the violently weaving Junkers, and then the gunner suddenly opened up and I knew I was in trouble!

After settling down a bit, trying to hold altitude and nurse the engine at the same time, I was  aware the altimeter was slowly unwinding and the radiator temperature slowly increasing…   Steadily my ailing Spitfire eased lower and lower until suddenly the far horizon of the sun- illuminated grey sea, a number of dots…

I remembered one instruction- land along the waves and not into them.  The engine was making unhappy noises and running very roughly but I still had speed ad control.  No wheels or no flaps. Try to put the tail in first and hold off as long as possible to get the landing speed down. Splash and bounce![51]

What Tony Iveson went through was a testament to how tough the Spitfire could be once it had been beaten up.  On several occasions this magnificent aircraft would prove how well it could protect its pilot.  During one skirmish in particular a Spitfire was caught by two Me-109s.  The plane was shot up, the canopy had been blown away, the instrument panel destroyed, and to make matters worse the engine was on fire.  However, through all of this the pilot not only survived, but was able to make a successful landing.  While some pilots could land their damaged Spitfires, this was not always the case. When the plane could not be landed the pilot would be forced to bail out and parachute down to the ground.  In one such case John Freeborn would have to do just that.  An enemy fighter had gotten behind him and had damaged his plane rather badly.  Before having to bail out Freeborn noticed that the armor on his seat had stopped seventeen bullets.  His Spitfire had saved his life, and he would go one to fight another day.[52]

Even though the Battle of Britain was fought in the sky, it was not exempt from the horrors of war.  As the Spitfire and the RAF began to push back and slow the Luftwaffe, a new order was put in place by the German air command.  German pilots were to shoot bailed out British aviators or their parachutes.  Furthermore, the British would begin to use incendiary ammunition in their guns.  This was particularly effective for Spitfires because it would allow them to turn their opponent into a ball of flame while not wasting more ammunition than necessary.[53]  In an encounter with a few Me 110s Wing Commander George Unwin’s combat report shows just how violent air conflict was:

We formed a line astern and engaged the enemy.  They formed a line astern and used evasive action by turning  The aircraft looked like Me. Jaguars.  I climbed underneath one and gave a  burst approx. 5 secs at 150-100 yds range.  The aircraft blew up over my head.  I then chased another who turned and climbed as I got within range.  I gave him a long burst, and his  starboard engine then stopped and threw out oil and smoke.  I carried on firing until about 100  yards and then dived under him to avoid collision.[54]

 

Even though the RAF was having success against the Luftwaffe casualties were an unfortunate part of the conflict.  As Spitfire pilots were killed, young inexperienced fliers were sent to replace the ones who had been lost.  Most times these men had never seen combat let alone actually flown a Spitfire.  This lack of experience could have disastrous consequences for these pilots as the power of the Spitfire could be too much to handle.  These rookie pilots often felt lucky just to make it back to base alive after their first encounter with the enemy, but those who could handle the powerful aircraft they were flying felt even more lucky to be doing so.  One of these replacement pilots, Peter Ayerst was fortunate enough to claim a kill on his first flight.  Ayerst along with two other Spitfires had spotted a lone German bomber preparing to drop its load.  The first two Spitfires shot at the He 111 but did create any real damage.  Ayerst moved his Spitfire into position, and from about 200 yards he opened fire, this forced the bomber down and Ayerst had scored his first kill as a rookie.[55]

The Spitfires biggest test in combat came against the German Me-109.  Spitfires held the overall advantage on the Luftwaffe fighter accept for two areas.  First was that the 109 had a fuel injected engine that allowed it to climb and dive a little easier without the engine stopping.  Secondly the 109 outnumbered the Spitfire so much so that the RAF had to maintain an overwhelming kill ratio to stay relevant in the battle.  There were several instances in which a few Spitfires would be forced to dogfight with upwards of twenty-four Me-109s, and the Spitfires would find that they could win.[56]  In these instances Squadron leader Brian Lane called the Spitfire was, “a terrier among rats.”[57]

The tactics used by Spitfires against the ME 109 also helped to solidify the Spitfire’s dominance in the Battle of Britain.  Part of the RAF strategy was to have the Spitfires fly at a high altitude so that they would be above their opponents.  Once the German planes had been spotted the flight leader would give the “Tally Ho,” or command to attack.  Upon which the Spitfires would dive on their enemies at speeds of over 400mph.  Wild, bloody, and exhaustive dogfights would generally ensue, and the British pilots would find themselves victorious more times than not.[58]

The fighting during the assault on Britain mostly took place during the day, however, as the battle began to favor the British, the Luftwaffe began to start bombing raids at night.  Many fighter pilots believed that going up after them was a waste of time because it was hard to find the enemy while flying at night.  However, when contact was made with the enemy at night it often led to a Spitfire claiming a kill.  Group Captain Allen Wright was a pilot fortunate enough to claim one such kill.  Wright was up on patrol when he came across and He 111 bomber.  He was quickly able to use the cover of night to his advantage and move into an advantageous attack position.  Before the crew of the bomber knew what had hit them, their plane it was heading down in a ball of flame.  Even though other members of Wright’s flight saw night missions as a waste of time his kill proved that they could be effective.[59]

As the Battle of Britain became more violent the RAF was forced to rely more heavily on the Spitfire to take out the German fighters.  For these fighters to be effective they needed to maintain a high kill percentage, which they consistently did.  Throughout parts of the conflict the Spitfires of 54 squadron led the entire RAF in kills.  On July 24th 1940 they shot down 14 enemy fighter while only loosing two of their own planes.  The next day 610 squadron had similar results, shooting down 11 enemies while only losing 1 Spitfire.  What made feats like this possible was that Spitfires would be sent up multiple times in one day to stave off enemy combatants.  On August 8th 1940, the Spitfire squadrons of the RAF were sent up 250 times.  During this day they claimed 39 enemy planes, and played a vital role in one of the most violent days in all of the battle.[60]

Throughout the duration of the conflict the German strategy tended to vary, as they picked and chose different targets for different reasons to try to force England’s surrender.  Britain on the other hand stuck to their main strategy of defending their homeland through attrition.[61]

For the English, they knew that to win this battle they had to rely heavily on their fighters.  The strategy for defending Britain was rather simple but effective.  Spitfires and Hurricanes were sent out on patrols to hunt for enemy aircraft, if any had been spotted by the pilots or the positions of enemy aircraft had been radioed to them by radar stations, the fighters looked to engage their enemy and hopefully push them back across the English Channel.  The idea of all these planes flying together was known as the big wing strategy.  The big wing allowed for aviators to effectively hunt for enemy fighters all while keeping an eye on one another to be sure that they could not be ambushed.  Although this idea was originally an offensive strategy the British realized that it was rather effective when used defensively.[62]

Keeping control of their own skies was highly important for the British.  They knew that if at any point they lost control they would almost most certainly be faced with a full scale invasion from the German army.  To avoid this fate the RAF began setting traps for the Luftwaffe to fly into.  During these traps Spitfires would play another vital role, and would help to break the confidence of the German pilots.  The trap was simple; the RAF would isolate a group of German bombers using one group of fighters.  When the Me-109s showed up to protect their bombers the could not be located.  After burning all the fuel they could afford, the German fighters would have to fly back to their base, it would be at this time that a second squadron, normally of Spitfires, would be sent after the Me 109s.  The Spitfires harassed the Me-109s back across the Channel and would often shoot several of them down at one time.  This trap strategy was not only effective but also shattered the confidence of Luftwaffe commander Herman Göring.[63]

While all of these strategies worked well for the English, the best involved both of their fighter aircraft.  This strategy was simply to divide and conquer.  The Spitfires were matched with the German Me 109, while the Hurricanes took on the German bombers.  The reason behind this was because the Hurricane did not match up as well with the Me-109 as the Spitfire did.  These new match ups also improved the kill ratios of the Hurricanes because they were spending less time dealing with a superior plane to themselves, and were able to focus on the less maneuverable bombers. Furthermore, this also allowed for the Spitfires to gain its legendary status as a fighter because they were involved in much more strenuous and difficult dogfights. Quickly, this became the go to blue print for the RAF while defending their homeland.[64]

Being the aggressors in this conflict the Luftwaffe had a wide variety of plans for winning in Great Britain.  For the first phase of the battle the Luftwaffe focused heavily on bombing the RAF fields so that they could put fighter command out of action before they could engage them in the air.  Also during this phase of the conflict the Germans bombed radar stations and shipping convoys. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, this plan would not be successful, as often times Spitfires would create havoc for German planes like the Ju-87 sent to attack. The Luftwaffe would have to shift their focus to a new target.  This phase of the Battle of Britain became known as the blitz, in which the German bombers took their attack into the heart of London.  The goal of this phase was to take the bombardment to the citizens of the country; however, fighter command was still able to hold back the attacking Luftwaffe aircraft. During this time the German air force also began to conduct night raids on London, which were somewhat effective because it was hard to locate the bombers, once they had finished their attack.[65]

The Luftwaffe was a much more experienced air force than the RAF.  They knew that to be successful they had to fly in a loose formation that would allow them to be observant to what was around them.  Furthermore, the Germans used their fighters to protect the bombers.  In theory this would allow the bombers to complete their mission without having to worry about the British fighters.  Obviously this did not turn out to be the case once the Spitfires had engaged the fighter escort.  Finally to create as much damage as possible the Luftwaffe would send as many as 300 planes at one time being a mixture of fighters and bombers to make fighting as hard as possible for the defending RAF.[66]

Both air forces had separate strategies for how they believed the Battle of Britain should be fought as a whole.  However, each side used similar tactics when it came to an actual dogfight. They both knew that altitude is one of the most important aspects in a dogfight, and the plane that can hold that has the better opportunity to be victorious.  Furthermore diving on the enemy out of the sun was another combat technique that was used by both the RAF and Luftwaffe.  In a dogfight the aircraft’s maneuverability also played a large role in which plane would claim the kill.  It was also important for a flier to watch how they were turning, so they would not fly directly into a hailstorm of enemy bullets.  For pilots to keep themselves safe they were never to follow down and aircraft that they had shot down, doing so would make the winning plane an easy target.  Luckily for the British this is where the Spitfire shined.  Its ability to climb, dive, and turn made it the perfect plane in a dogfight and made it the perfect plane to withstand the full force of the Luftwaffe.[67]

The Spitfire played many roles throughout the Battle of Britain.  Arguably the most important part that this plane played was psychological.  It was both a morale boost for the British, and a spirit crushing sight for the Germans.[68] Most pilots who flew in this conflict were impacted by the Spitfire and were able to see what made this masterpiece of aviation an icon.[69]

Spitfire pilots often raved about their planes, and for good reason.  Wing Commander Johnnie Johnston stated that pilots who flew a Spitfire, “came to love her thorough bred qualities.”[70] By Johnston giving the plane a human quality by calling it  “her,” his admiration for this aircraft truly shines through and shows how this piece of technology could elicit such strong feelings.  Johnston was not the only aviator to make such a bold statement.  Other pilots would call the Spitfire, “a dream, a star, and a legend.”[71] These combining titles display that Johnston was not the only pilot to have strong emotions about what this airplane could do.[72]

While the British had deeply held affections for the Spitfire, the Luftwaffe pilots had the exact opposite feeling. “Achtung Spitfires,” was the last thing that any German pilot wished to hear over their radio, because they new that they would be in for an intense dog fight.[73] Lieutenant Roderick Cescotti was among the German bomber pilots who truly knew to fear the Spitfire.[74] On a bombing mission Lt. Cescotti found himself to be in the sights of a deadly Spitfire, his Heinkel He-111 bomber took severe damage to the cockpit, he later recalled the incident and claimed that the “Tommies” who flew the Spitfires were braver than he could have ever imagined.[75] This pilot’s story is not uncommon amongst the men who flew against the mighty Spitfire.

What the Spitfire was capable of was no longer a secret to the Luftwaffe once the Battle of Britain had begun. This knowledge led to German pilots often fleeing from battle or aborting missions altogether. Throughout the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire had an interesting effect on German pilots. Spitfires had become so feared by the Germans that opposing pilots would on occasion bail out before a dogfight could finish.[76]  A perfect example of this July 26, 1940, on this day the Spitfires of No. 65 squadron chased off eight raids by German bombers and fighters.[77] Throughout this day, all German aircraft turned and ran from the Spitfires with the exception of one Me-109 which was shot down. Spitfires maintained their ability to chase of German planes throughout the entire conflict and on certain occasions the Spitfires of the Thirteenth Fighter Group could chase them away at night as well. Once it became clear that the Spitfire was the first worthy adversary of the Me-109, it was not rare for the German fighter, once engaged in a dogfight, to dive out of the fight and head back to base.[78] Furthermore, when an Me-109 would stick around long enough to be shot down, the Luftwaffe pilots wanted to be sure it was a Spitfire that shot them down, as they felt that it was dishonor to be shot down by a “lesser” aircraft like the Hurricane.  Clearly the Spitfire had earned the respect that it deserved, but more importantly it was becoming the most feared English combatant.[79]

As the fight for England raged on, it became increasingly clear that the Spitfire was capable of doing something that was unexpected.  A fighter plane that was once considered too delicate to be able to be effective was proving that it was tougher than it originally appeared.[80] Al Deere, a Spitfire pilot during the battle, stated that the Spitfire was, “Deceptively tough.”[81] The Spitfire was building a reputation for being able to take care of its pilots.[82] The aircraft could be shot, loose important pieces, bounce off the ground, and collide with other aircraft, and could still manage to deliver the pilot, somewhat, safely back home.[83] Even the windshield of the Spitfire was tough, on occasion it was known to have the ability to stop a bullet.[84]The Spitfire had the ability to protect it’s pilot in more ways than it just being a tough fighter.[85] Wing Commander Bob Doe, who held a deep admiration for the plane, recalled that, “you weren’t just sitting in it, you were part of it.”[86] Doe’s sentiment about the Spitfire is one that is shared by other pilots as well who would rave about the superb handling of the fighter.[87] The Spitfire became less of a piece of technology and more of a friend to the men who flew them.  Another example of this is what pilot Paddy Barthropp claimed pilots would do while they were in combat. He said, “When frightened… I think one used to talk to ones Spitfire, and you may be equally sure that it used to answer.”[88] The confidence and morale boost received from the Spitfire seemingly had a great effect on the outcome of the battle.

The morale boost received from the Spitfires was not limited to the men who flew them.  During this great struggle for freedom the Spitfire was used as a type of propaganda symbol by the British government to show the citizens that their air force was just as powerful as their foe, and could stave off invasion.[89] The Spitfire was also able to give the pilots of the Hawker Hurricane a morale boost as well.[90] Spitfires gave Hurricane pilots a morale boost in that they would assist the Hurricanes kill numbers.[91] Spitfires were able to aid the Hurricanes in kill numbers because they would attack the German fighters while the Hurricanes would attack the slower and more vulnerable bombers.[92]

While the British fighter could chase some planes away from the country for hours or days, it ultimately ran off the German dive bomber, the Ju-87 Stuka, for good.[93] The Stuka was a relatively slow aircraft with a top speed was just over 230 mph, because of this it left the dive bomber extremely vulnerable to attacks by from the Spitfire.[94] Overall, after a few short weeks the Luftwaffe stopped sending Stukas to attack England because of the high rate that they were being lost at.  The ability of the Spitfire to render an entire aircraft useless to the Germans was a massive blow to the morale of the Luftwaffe pilots who continued to do battle with the lethal Spitfires.[95]

The longer the Luftwaffe kept attacking England, it became more obvious to their pilots that victory would not be easy, if it was at all possible. The German forces could no longer hide from the statistics that they were losing the battle.[96] The Spitfires alone could shoot fifteen to twenty German aircraft (mostly Me-109s) while only losing somewhere between four to seven planes in a single day.[97] The definitive statement of how the Luftwaffe viewed the Spitfire may have come from Me-109 ace Major Adolf Galland. One afternoon, after a particularly rough thrashing at the hands of Spitfires, Luftwaffe Commander Herman Goering asked Maj. Galland what his squadron needed to be victorious, Maj. Galland simply responded, “A squadron of Spitfires.”[98] Galland’s sentiments for the British fighter shows the defeated attitude of the Luftwaffe pilots.

As the Battle of Britain came to an end, the RAF had seemingly done the impossible by defeating the German Luftwaffe.  Although the Second World War was just beginning and there would still be attacks on the nation, England was safe and free from invasion.  For the first time since Hitler had begun his reign of terror on Europe, his feared military had suffered defeat.  Not only was this just defeat for the Germans it was a loss in a decisive manner in which they had seen the best technology they had lack superiority.[99]

At the heart of the British victory was the Supermarine Spitfire.  The fighter that almost never made it into the sky had played an incredibly important role in this conflict.  The British had built their strategy around this plane, it was adored by the men who flew it, and frightened the pilots who were forced to engage it in combat.  The Battle of Britain layed the foundation for the Spitfire becoming a legend and one of the most successful fighter aircraft throughout the entirety of World War II.[100]

While the Spitfires numbers during the British conflict with the Luftwaffe may have been small, the contribution that this plane made was massive.  The Spitfire helped to win the Battle of Britain in many ways.  The first is that this plane was able to beat back the enemy fighter, the Me 109.  By doing this it allowed the less capable Hurricane to focus on the German bombers without having to deal with an aircraft that was superior to them.  Furthermore the damage inflicted by the Spitfire caused the Luftwaffe to stop using specific planes while attacking England.  After the Battle of Britain the Royal Air Force and the people of England would forever be indebted to the fewest of the few, the Supermarine Spitfire.[101]

BY RYAN CLAUSER

 

 

Bibliography

Primary Sources

 

Bader, Doug, in Boyne, Walter J. and Handleman, Phillip. Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends. New York: Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999.

 

Bathropp, Paddy, in Kaplan, Phillip. Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain. South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword books, 2007.

 

Churchill, Winston, in Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

 

Deere, Al, in Kaplan, Phillip. Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain. South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword books, 2007.

 

Doe, Bob in Downing, Anthony. Johnston, Andrew. “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000): 19-25.

 

Donahue, Arthur, Gerald. Tally Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941.

 

Dowding, Hugh, in O’Dell, Nicholas. “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013): 22-29.

 

Freeborn, John, in Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

 

Galland, Adolf, in Mosley, Leonard. The Battle of Britain. N.P.: Time-Life Books Inc, 1977.

 

Iveson, Tony, in Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

 

Johnson, Johnnie in Downing, Anthony. Johnston, Andrew. “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000): 19-25.

 

Lane, Brian, in Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

 

Mitchell, Billy, in  Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1973.

 

Royal Air Force. Campaign Diaries. July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940. http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm

 

Royal Air Force.  Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm. Accessed October 18, 2014.

 

Unwin, George, in Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

 

Secondary Sources

 

Barley, M.P. “Contributing to its Own Defeat: The Lufftwaffe and the Battle of Britain,”

     Defense Studies Vol. 4, Issue 3 (Autumn 2004): 387-411.

 

Boyne, Walter J. and Handleman, Phillip. Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends. New York: Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999.

 

Cumming, Anthony J. “Did Radar Win the Battle of Britain?”Historian Vol. 69, Issue 4  (Winter 2007): 688-705.

 

Downing, Anthony. Johnston, Andrew. “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000): 19-25.

 

Kaplan, Phillip. Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain. South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword books, 2007.

 

Listman, Phil. Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV. Paris: Histoire & Collections, 2014.

 

MacKay, Niall. Price, Christopher. “Safety in Numbers: Ideas of Concentration in Royal Air Force Defense from Lanchester to the Battle of Britain,” History Vol. 96, Issue 323 (July 2011): 304-325.

 

Mosley, Leonard. The Battle of Britain. New York: Time-Life Books Inc, 1977.

 

O’Dell, Nicholas. “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013): 22-29.

 

Price, Alfred. Spitfire in Combat. Thrupp: Sutton Publishing, 2003.

 

Sulzberger, C.L.. The American Heritage Picture History of World War II.  New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966.

 

Weigley, Russell F.. The American Way of War A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1973.

 

Yeoman, Christopher, and, Pritchard, David. The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few. Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011.

[1]C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 112-113.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 57.;Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011 , 11.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

[2]Winston Churchill in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 11.

[3] Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38.; Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000) , 25.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

See appendix for image of Supermarine Spitfire.

[4]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 19; Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.;  Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 39.; Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 39.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 52.

[5]Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 36.

[6]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013),22: Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.

[7]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013),22: Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.

[8]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.

[9]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 25.

[10]Ibid.

[11]  Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 22.

[12]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 25.

[13]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 25.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

See Appendix image 1 for Hawker Hurricane.

[14]Ibid, 20, 23.

[15]Ibid, 22.

[16]Ibid,  22.

[17]Ibid,  20.

[18]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 52.

[19]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 52.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[20]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 22.

[21]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 25.: Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 21.

[22]Hugh Dowding in Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 25.

[23]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 21.

[24]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 21. : Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 25.

[25]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 21.

[26]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 24. :Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  21.

[27]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.:  Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014)

[28]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 22.

[29]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 22.:Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014),  6.

See appendix for image of first Spitfire K5054.

[30]Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 6-7.

[31]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 23.

[32]Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 7-8.

[33]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 23:Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 8.

[34]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 24.

[35]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 23. : Pre war 172. :  Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[36]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 24: Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[37] Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014). : Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 55.

See appendix for image of Me 109.

[38]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 55.

[39]    C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 59, 58.; Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1973, 226.

[40] Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1973,226, 225;  C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 60, 61, 442-443.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

See Appendix for image of Me 110.

[41]    C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 60, 443.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

See appendix for image of Ju 87 Stuka.

[42]C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 60, 98.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 18-19.

[43]C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966,  98.; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 28, 37, 44.

[44]John Freeborn in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 28.

[45]John Freeborn in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 28.; Tally Ho 24 35, 40.; Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 20.

[46]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 57.; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 28.

[47]Adolf Galland in Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977),  57.

[48]Arthur Gerald Donahue, Tally Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941, 42.

[49] Arthur Gerald Donahue, Tally Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941, 56.

[50]Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 79.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[51]Tony Iveson in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 79.

[52]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 89; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 27.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[53]C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966 60, ; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 109; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977),  57.

[54]George Unwin in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 67.

Unwin refers to the plane he is engaged in combat with as an Me Jaguar. This is the same plane as the Me 110.

[55]Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 32.; Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013),  27;  Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 35

[56]Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 53; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 58.; C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966 60

[57]Brian Lane in Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 67.

[58] Arthur Gerald Donahue, Tally Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941, 38.; Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 27.; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011,  69 79 93.

Tally Ho- This phrase was called out by a British flight leader once it was safe to attack.  Once the “Tally Ho” had been given the flight formation was to break and go after their enemy.

[59]Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 43-44.;  Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).;Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38.

[60]Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

[61]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 88.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).; M.P. Barley, “Contributing to its Own Defeat: The Lufftwaffe and the Battle of Britain,” Defense Studies Vol. 4, Issue 3 (Autumn 2004), 391.

[62]M.P. Barley, “Contributing to its Own Defeat: The Lufftwaffe and the Battle of Britain,” Defense Studies Vol. 4, Issue 3 (Autumn 2004), 389, 405.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 86.; Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 37.

See Appendix for image of Spitfires flying in a big wing formation.

[63]Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 141.; M.P. Barley, “Contributing to its Own Defeat: The Lufftwaffe and the Battle of Britain,” Defense Studies Vol. 4, Issue 3 (Autumn 2004), 391, 388, 391.; Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 54.

[64]Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 39.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).;Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38, 39.; Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 52.

[65]Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).; C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 112-113.;Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977 , 95.

[66]Niall MacKay and Christopher Price, “Safety in Numbers: Ideas of Concentration in Royal Air Force Fighter Defense from Lanchester to the Battle of Britain,” History Vol. 96, Issue 323 (July 2011), 313.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977 , 87.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

[67]Walter J. Boyne and Phillip Handleman, Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends, New York, (Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999), 68, 73.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, (Time-Life Books Inc. 1977), 86.; Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 53.;Niall MacKay and Christopher Price, “Safety in Numbers: Ideas of Concentration in Royal Air Force Fighter Defense from Lanchester to the Battle of Britain,” History Vol. 96, Issue 323 (July 2011), 313.; Arthur Gerald Donahue, Tally Ho! A Yankee in a Spitfire, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941, 111.; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 93.

[68]Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 5.;Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 27.

[69]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 22.

[70]Johnnie Johnston in Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  28.

[71]Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).; Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.; Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 36.

[72]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000),  20.

[73]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 27.

[74]Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 61.

[75]Ibid.

Tommies- A slang term used by German pilots and soldiers when referring to British soldiers or pilots.

[76] Walter J. Boyne and Phillip Handleman, Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends, New York, (Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999), 65, 66, 68, 70, 72.; Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 28.

See Appendix for image of Doug Bader climbing into his Spitfire with his prosthetic legs.

[77]Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 37-39.; Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

[78] Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).; Walter J. Boyne and Phillip Handleman, Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends, New York, (Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999),  64.

[79]  Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.

[80]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.

[81]Al Deere in Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 5.

[82] Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 57.

[83]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.; Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 57.

[84]Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 57.

[85]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.; Alfred Price, Spitfire in Combat, Thrupp, (Sutton Publishing 2003), 57.

[86]Bob Doe in Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 19.

[87] Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 24.

[88]Paddy Barthropp in Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007),  5.

[89]Walter J. Boyne and Phillip Handleman, Air Combat Reader Historic Feats and Aviation Legends, New York, (Fall Rivers Publishing, 1999), 64.

[90]Phillip Kaplan, Fighter Aces of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, South Yorkshire, (Pen & Sword books, 2007), 39.

[91]Ibid.

[92] Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977, 53.

[93]Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).: Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014),  38.

[94]Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).

[95]Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).; Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38.

[96]Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).

[97]Ibid.

[98]Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 25.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977 , 99.; Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpeice,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 27.

[99]C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966, 60.; Leonard Mosley, The Battle of Britain, New York: Time-Life Books Inc. 1977 , 52-55.; Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000) , 24.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014) .

[100]Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013), 22.; Taylor Downing and Andrew Johnston, “The Spitfire Legend,” History Today Vol. 50, Issue 9 (September 2000), 22.; Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014) , 36.; Royal Air Force, Aircraft, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/aircraft.cfm (accessed October 18, 2014).; C.L. Sulzberger, The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, New York: American Heritage/Bonanza Books,1966 , 442.

[101]  Royal Air Force, Campaign Diaries, July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/campiagn_diaries.cfm (accessed October 19, 2013).; Phil Listman, Supermarine Spitfire MkI – MkII – MkV, Paris, (Histoire & Collections 2014), 38.; Nicholas O’Dell, “Mitchell’s Masterpiece,” Aviation History Vol. 24, Issue 2 (November 2013) , 27.; Christopher Yeoman and David Pritchard, The Battle of Britain Portraits of the Few, Hitchin: Fighting High Ltd, 2011, 11-15.

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