fighters

May

4

1942

American fighters take on Japanese over China

4th May 1942: American fighters take on Japanese over China

The Japs had laid this attack on a little differently They knew our situation from the two reconnaissance flights that preceded the bombers. They decided to forgo the fighters as bomber escorts and hold them off and away from the field with the hope of catching all of us when we returned – low on ammunition and gas.

Apr

20

1942

Spitfires for Malta are flown off USS Wasp

20th April 1942: Spitfires for Malta are flown off USS Wasp

The deck ofiicer began rotating his chequered flag and I pushed forward my throttle until I had maximum rpm. His flag then fell and I released the brakes and I pushed the throttle to emergency override to get the last ounce of power out of my Merlin. The Spitfire picked up speed rapidly in its headlong charge down the deck but not rapidly enough. The ship’s bows got closer and closer and still I had insufficient airspeed …

Apr

13

1942

Preparing to sail to Malta

13th April 1942: Preparing to sail to Malta

It is impossible to cross the deck without ducking under wings and tails, all tucked into one another. The Spitiires’ wheels are steadied by wooden blocks, their wing tips lashed to the deck by ropes and cables, but more Spitfires are suspended from the roof girders, slung there by canvas loops – they sway gently as our carrier rolls. Staring at these planes I coulld not help wondering how many of them and, indeed, how many of our pilots will be left in a week’s time.

Apr

10

1942

A fighter sweep across the Channel

10th April 1942: A fighter sweep across the Channel to provoke ‘the Boche’

Twelve of us took off three at a time; we gained altitude slowly, here and there picking up other squadrons, punctual at the meeting points, progressively coming in to join us, taking up position on either side, above and below so that we formed the point of an enormous arrow of about 250 fighters. All 2 Group had sent their squadrons – Northolt, Hornchurch, Kenley, Hawkinge, the Poles, the Czechs, the famous American Eagle Squadron, etc.

Mar

27

1942

Fighters clash over the Desert

27th March 1942: Fighters clash over the Desert

The enemy escort drew off some of our fighters, but other Hurricanes which had by now climbed to a dizzy height, dived like thunderbolts on the Stukas quickly followed by the top-cover Messerschmitt escort who were still higher. The first Hurricane to dive came streaking down the coast followed by a Messerschmitt, firing its cannons in furious bursts, peppering the air with black smoke puffs.

Jan

28

1942

RAF ace Stanford Tuck shot down over France

28th January 1942: RAF ace Stanford Tuck shot down over France during ‘Rhubarb raid’

RAF Fighter Command continued with a policy of taking the fight to the enemy with a series of ‘sweeps’ over northern Europe known as ‘Rhubarb raids’. This was designed to force the Luftwaffe to maintain a significant number of aircraft in the west, helping to relieve the pressure on Russia. The military value of attacking ground targets in France and the Low countries was limited and it proved to be costly in terms of aircraft and pilots. Many experienced pilots, veterans of the Battle of Britain, were lost in this way.

Jan

26

1942

RAF cover British retreat in the desert

26th January 1942: RAF cover British retreat in the desert after Rommel’s latest attack

A particularly successful attack was made on the 26th, when our fighters, in spite of severe sand-storms, continuously machine-gunned M.T. and tanks moving between Antelat, Saunnu, Msus and Charruba. At least 120 vehicles were destroyed or damaged and many enemy troops were killed or wounded. Our bombers had already helped to disorganise enemy movement towards Msus by dropping 40 tons of bombs in continuous attacks throughout the previous night.

Dec

5

1941

Five Stuka’s shot down in one sortie

At 300 yards I opened fire with all my guns at the leader of one of the rear sections of three, allowing too little deflection, and hit No. 2 and No. 3, one of which burst into flames immediately, the other going down smoking and went into flames after losing about 1000 feet. I then attacked the leader of the rear section…from below and behind, opening fire with all guns at very close range.

Sep

20

1941

Escape from occupied Europe

I turned, leading my three comrades. I was surprised to see men on board it. There were five of them, all on their feet, at the risk of upsetting the frail skiff waving everything they had, handkerchieves, coats, etc. One whom I saw distinctly was wearing a mackintosh and waving a soft hat as high as he could.

Sep

14

1941

Hurricat attack on a Focke Wolfe

12:00 – The aircraft turned towards the convoy and appeared to be coming in for attack, so a Hurricane was flown off. The pilot, Sub Lt. C. Walker, R.N.V.R. saw the enemy immediately as he left the ship and went straight to meet it, carrying out a head-on attack until at point blank range. He saw that his ammunition entered the nose of the German aircraft.