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Spitfire versus six Messerschmitt 109s

Solo Spitfire in flight
Spitfire F Mk.1 in flight viewed from slightly above.

The relative merits of the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt 109 have been debated ever since the Battle of Britain. Whatever the different technical performance of the different airframes, engines and armaments one factor was never predictable – the capabilities of the pilot. Sometimes, fighting for their very life, exceptional pilots could overcome heavy odds.

The Battle of Britain, as it would eventually be designated, was now drawing to a close. But in late October the Germans were still conducting fighter sweeps across southern England and RAF fighter squadrons were still meeting them.

One Spitfire pilot describes how he was detached from his flight to investigate enemy aircraft and then returned to join his colleagues above south East London. Moments later he realised he had mistakenly joined a patrol of enemy Me 109s and was weaving between enemy aircraft:

When I realized what I was doing I got a pretty fair shock. I went in to attack double quick. One Messerschmitt did a barrel roll to the left. I fired at him as he did so, and he dropped back. I was then engaged from astern, and lost a bit of ground.

By the time we got to Hastings I had caught up the rest of them again, and knocked bits off one. Another was half a mile or more below and behind the others as they crossed the coast. He was dropping back rapidly, and I was hoping to finish him off when six more Messerschmitt 109’s came down at me from over the Channel in line abreast.

They went into line astern and circled round me at about 30-yards intervals. But number six was about 100 yards behind number five, so I went for him. He climbed steeply in a close turn. I had about 300 miles an hour on the clock, so I pulled up almost vertically and gave him a burst flat into his feet from beneath. He rolled over and went straight down.

By this time number one was on my tail, so I went down behind number six, who was still going straight down in a slow aileron turn at 10,000 feet. But number one was still worrying me, so I went into a steep left-hand turn—and blacked out. On recovering from my black-out there were no more enemy in sight, so I climbed up again and went home.

Unfortunately the source does not give the exact date or the name of he pilot. See Norman Macmillan :THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE WORLD WAR

Spitfire F Mk.1. Six aircraft of 65 Squadron
Spitfire F Mk.1. Six aircraft of 65 Squadron in starboard echelon formation. From near to far in the photo can be seen Spitfires FZ-L, FZ-O, FZ-P, FZ-A, FZ-H, and FZ-B.
RAF Spitfire in flight
A Spitfire Mk 1 from the Battle of Britain.

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