fighters

Jul

27

1943

French Spitfire pilot Pierre Closterman opens his score


27th July 1943: French Spitfire pilot Pierre Closterman opens his score

I climbed steeply, did a half-roll and, before they could complete the 180° of their turn, there I was — within easy range this time – behind the second one. A slight pressure on the rudder and I had him in my sights. I could scarcely believe my eyes, only a simple deflection necessary, at less than 200 yards range. Quickly I squeezed the ring-button. Whoopee! Flashes all over his fuselage. My first burst had struck home and no mistake.

Jul

20

1943

A Spitfire ‘rhubarb’ over France ends badly


20th July 1943: A Spitfire ‘rhubarb’ over France ends badly

On this occasion it didn’t turn out that way: as we crossed the coast there was an almighty bang and everything changed. After the roar and racket of the past quarter of an hour there was suddenly total silence. There was glass everywhere except in the instrument panel where it belonged. My right arm wouldn’t obey my commands but hung loose at my side. Almost every dial, indicator and gauge in front of me had gone haywire. Not a squeak from the radio; not a murmur from the engine; no wind noise; total silence; and around me total chaos. I was stone deaf.

Jun

14

1943

Nightfighter vs nightfighter over Germany

14th June 1943: Nightfighter vs nightfighter over Germany

‘Keep a good check on the equipments, Sticks. There arc plenty of Huns about.’ Up ahead was another fire in the sky, gradually sinking lower and lower to crash in a sheet of flame, marking the grave of another aircraft. Things were getting hot. We were close to the flaming ruins of Oberhausen and the sky above us was filled with bursting anti-aircraft shells and the flares released by the Pathfinders to show the main force where the bombs should be dropped.

Jun

6

1943

Random bullet strikes down General Horrocks

6th June 1943: Random bullet strikes down General Horrocks

I retain only two memories of the next twenty-four hours. The first was when I was lying on the floor of divisional headquarters with a group of people standing round. Recognising the face of the divisional A.D.M.S. – the chief doctor – I asked him if I would be well enough to take the Corps to Salerno. He shook his head. Luckily for my peace of mind it never entered my head that at this time he thought I was going to die.

Jun

2

1943

‘Battle in the Bay’ – Sunderland v Ju 88s

2nd June 1943: ‘Battle in the Bay’ Sunderland v Ju 88s

1855 hours. The turrets moved slowly while eyes strained in the sunlight. This was indeed the Tiger Country, a slaughteryard, a stage for a play of suspense and savagery, where all men at one tike or another knew the meaning of fear. Here there were no parachutes and no patriots in the back country.

May

15

1943

The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill

15th May 1943: The score reaches 1000 at Biggin Hill


Hardly had I begun to turn to starboard when a nice little job slid under my starboard wing. I turned on my back without even trying to identify it. I went at terric speed, giving the plane all it had. As I dived after my National Socialist, for I could see his black crosses shining now, I gave rapid orders over the radio so that my faithful troops would cover my attack.

Apr

21

1943

Spitfires versus Focke-Wulf 190s over France

21st April 1943: Spitfires versus Focke-Wulf 190s over France

I identified it at once-it was a Focke-Wulf 190. I had not studied the photos and recognition charts so often for nothing. After firing a burst of tracer at me he bore down on Martell. Yes, it certainly was one – the short wings, the radial engine, the long transparent hood: the square-cut tail-plane all in one piece!

Apr

10

1943

RAF trials – a high altitude radar guided dogfight

10th April 1943: RAF operational trials – a high altitude radar guided dogfight

The small, fierce sun threw harsh shadows on the wing, and as we climbed the sky became darker and darker, and the windows began to frost over until only part of the windscreen and a few patches at the side remained clear. This was all quite different from what I had known of even our fairly regular flights to the higher altitudes of about twenty-five thousand feet. The cabin pressure was at an artificial thirty-two thousand feet, but the altimeter needle, slowing down now, had just passed the mark for forty-three thousand feet.

Jan

4

1943

Landing a Spitfire onto an Aircraft carrier

4th January 1943: First go at landing a Spitfire onto an Aircraft carrier

It was so good in the air that I hadn’t the least desire to go down, my approach, as I lost altitude, looked more and more difficult and the deck hardly seemed to have changed in size. I had to touch down with my wheels immediately behind the bulge of the deck. If I succeeded in placing myself well in the centre, the cables would do the rest, provided my speed were correct. Therein lay the difficulty.

Oct

14

1942

Spitfire Ace shot down over Malta

14th October 1942: Spitfire Ace shot down over Malta

Just as I shot Willie’s pal down, another Me nailed me from behind. He got me right in the belly of the Spit. A chunk of cannon shell smashed into my right heel. Another went between my left arm and body, nicking me in the elbow and ribs. Shrapnel spattered into my left leg. The controls were blasted to bits. The throttle was jammed wide open and there I was in a full-power spin, on my way down from somewhere around 18,000 feet.