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Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas
Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 27
This is a typical entry in the Aircraft of the Aces series. This is one of the book's main strengths. The Typhoon was a notoriously difficult aircraft, but was popular with many of its pilots. This is well reflected in the many extracts from pilot reports, interviews and autobiographies amply scattered through the book, which reflect that combination of enthusiasm and healthy caution that greeted the Typhoon.
One unusual feature of this book is that it concentrates on the air combat career of the Typhoon and Tempest, largely ignoring the Typhoon's more successful second career as a ground attack aircraft. Despite its troubled reputation, the Typhoon actually scored seven more victories than the Tempest - 246 to 239 - although the Tempest achieved most of its victories in the final six months of the war.
1 - Into Service and Out?
2 - JABO Hunters
3 - "Rhubarbs" and "Rangers"
4 - D-Day and "Divers"
5 - Holland
6 - Final Battles
7 - Top Scorers
Author: Chris Thomas
Typhoon and Tempest aces of World War 2 - Chris Thomas
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Hawker Typhoon and Tempest - two aircraft types with widely differing reputations. The former was a technical nightmare redeemed as a ground attack machine, whilst the latter proved to be the most superlative low and medium level fighter to see service with the RAF, and arguably any air force, during the latter stages of World War 2. With 246 enemy aircraft destroyed by the Typhoon and 239 by the Tempest, over 40 aces flew one or both types in combat, and men like 'Foob' Fairbanks and Johnny Baldwin attained double-figure scores with the Hawker fighters.
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Son of a Typhoon pilot, Chris Thomas is arguably Britain’s best authority on the Typhoon/Tempest family, having served as Air Britain’s specialist on the type for over two decades.
Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War 2
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Description : This book traces the achievements of the pilots flying the iconic Spitfire in Northwest Europe, and examines how the steady technological improvements that were made throughout the Spitfire's service life improved its capabilities in the air. Based at airfields throughout southern England, Merlin engine Spitfires provided the bulk of the air cover for the D-Day landings and it was an RCAF Spitfire which claimed the first ever ME 262 jet kill. 36 colour profiles covering a broad spectrum of nationalities, units, pilots, theatres and markings complement thorough research throughout this comprehensive account of these crucial fighter aircraft.
"Typical of Osprey books, there are a superlative number of period photos of the planes and those who flew them. This is further enhanced by a large selection of color profiles by author that show examples of the Typhoon as the war progressed. This is an outstanding book on the subject and is one that I can easily recommend to you." --Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness (October 2010)
"Military holdings considering strategy and equipment will find this a fine survey from an aircraft specialist who provides much research on the history and development of the Typhoon." --The Midwest Book Review
The Airfield Today
Following a period of gravel extraction and infilling with rubbish in the 1970s, the airfield was extensively landscaped to create Hornchurch Country Park, with work commencing in 1980. Most of the former administrative and technical areas, including the two Type A and one Type C hangars, were levelled in the 1960s and the area is now a housing estate. The names of the streets of the estate commemorate the airfield and its pilots (such as Bouchier Walk, Kirton Close, Tempest Way, Robinson Close, Tuck Road, Bader Way and Malan Square). The former Officers' Mess is now a medical centre in Astra Close. The Officers' Mess (Astra House), Officers' Quarters (Astra Court East, West & North) and WO Quarters (89-99 (odd numbers) Wood Lane) are included in the RAF Hornchurch Conservation Area.
A local school, The R. J. Mitchell School, was named after the man who designed the Spitfire, and a large monument to this effect, with wreaths placed on Remembrance Day, is within the school railings. Another local school (Suttons School) was re-named Sanders Draper School after an American pilot, Flying Officer Raimund (Smudge) Sanders-Draper, flying with the Royal Air Force at the time, had an engine failure on take-off and stayed at his controls to ensure his aircraft didn't crash on the building, which was full of children at the time.
A number of pillboxes, command bunkers and gun positions, together with the largest number of surviving Tett Turrets in England, still exist within the boundaries of the former airfield and can be seen on the Eastern edge of the country park. RAF Hornchurch artefacts and memorabilia are housed in the Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre.
RAF Hornchurch was the subject of one of the programmes in the BBC TV series Two Men in a Trench. In the programme, several of the defences were examined. One of the Tett Turrets was excavated, the backfill of which contained a pair of 1940 RAF pilot's goggles along with material from the hospital. [ 9 ] . The fire trench, a partially buried pillbox and an E pen were excavated, while the gun emplacement on the northern end of the site was cleared of vegetation.
The Good Intent pub, formerly with a large concrete, planetarium-like dome next door (used for training airgunners), still exists on the Hornchurch Road, was popular with the aircrews, and has an interesting collection of photos of the Station.
A DVD about RAF Hornchurch was produced by Mike Jones for Streets Ahead Productions.
The airfield is said to be haunted [ 10 ] and was the subject of a paranormal investigation in 2004. Click here for the report.
William Leefe Robinson
Although Robinson was awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting down Schütte-Lanz SL11 in 1916, it wasn't celebrated in all quarters, particularly by serving pilots in France. Home Defence was viewed as a relatively easy role and Robinson had trouble earning the respect of his fellow pilots when he was subsequently posted to France. These views were compounded when Robinson was shot down by aircraft led by Manfred von Richthofen shortly after arriving in France. The awarding of the VC was, undoubtedly, partly politically motivated, although it must be remembered that any form of flying was inherently dangerous in 1916, particularly at night and at these tremendous heights without oxygen. Robinson also managed to single-handedly lift the spirit of a nation that had suffered the new terror of aerial bombardment from the apparently invincible airships. [ 11 ]
Use of Incendiary Ammunition
Although effective in destroying enemy airships, the use of incendiary ammunition was banned under the terms of the Hague Convention of 1899 [ 12 ] and pilots using it had to have signed orders from their commanding officer. This type of ammunition was issued only to squadrons in Home Defence roles and never to squadrons serving overseas. On his return to Sutton's Farm, William Leefe Robinson's CO ordered him to keep quiet about it [ 13 ] as it was thought the propaganda value for the enemy would be invaluable should it leak out, even though the Germans had already broken the terms of the convention by using gas in 1915. Later in the war the use of incendiary ammunition became officially recognised. [ 14 ]
The Battle of Barking Creek
The first aircraft to be shot down by the British in the Second World War was a Hurricane of 56 Squadron. On 6 September 1939, three days after the declaration of war, a searchlight battery on Mersea Island incorrectly identified a friendly aircraft crossing the Essex coast. A message was relayed to HQ 11 Group, which ordered Hurricanes from North Weald to investigate. They were subsequently misidentified as hostile aircraft themselves by the Chain Home Radar at Canewdon. [ 15 ] Further aircraft from North Weald were scrambled to intercept their comrades, but they too were misidentified through a combination of miscommunication, inexperience and over-enthusiasm. A tragic, but inevitable mistake was now just minutes away Spitfires from 74 Squadron, led by “Sailor” Malan, took off from Hornchurch and quickly engaged two Hurricanes, shooting them both down.
Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop was killed whilst the other pilot, Pilot Officer Tommy Rose, baled out and landed safely. The two pilots responsible for the attack, Pilot Officer John Freeborn and Flying Officer Paddy Byrne were placed under arrest upon their return to Hornchurch. Freeborn had been the squadron adjutant and had distributed orders that single engined aircraft should not be engaged as it was assumed that enemy fighters would not have the fuel to be able to fly a return sortie from Germany and, therefore, any single engined aircraft would be friendly.
A court-martial was held on 7 October 1939, at which, Freeborn later claimed, that Malan said he never gave the order to attack. All three were acquitted, with the judge claiming that the case should never have been brought to trial. The proceedings have never been made public. [ 16 ] [ 17 ] [ 18 ]
Notable Station Commanders
|Name||Rank as CO||From||To||Died||Later Career|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park||Sqn Ldr||01/04/28||16/03/29||05/02/75||AOC No 11 Gp, C in C, Air Command South East Asia |
|Air Marshal Sir Leonard Slatter||Sqn Ldr||25/10/29||01/04/30||14/04/61||AOC Coastal Command |
|Air Vice-Marshal Sir Matthew Frew||Wg Cdr||02/04/37||27/07/38||28/05/74||AOC Training HQ SAAF |
|Air Vice Marshal Sir Cecil Bouchier||Wg Cdr||20/12/39||21/12/40||15/06/79||AOC British Commonwealth Air Forces of Occupation Japan |
|Air Chief Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst||Wg Cdr||20/12/40||12/05/42||29/08/95||AOC Bomber Command, Managing Director A V Roe & Co |
Click here for a complete list of Station Commanders
Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No 27) by Chris Thomas (1999-09-01) Taschenbuch – 1. Januar 1718
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Beaufighter Aces of World War 2
‘I was vectored out 170 (degrees) and back 350 onto an enemy aircraft, and I sighted the enemy at about 16,000 ft. I observed the enemy flying slightly to my north side ahead of me at a distance of 400 yards. I opened fire at 200 yards, firing approximately 200 rounds in two bursts. I gave a third burst at 70 yards but the cannon failed to fire. My AI (Air Intercept) operator observed the enemy aircraft dive steeply into cloud. The enemy aircraft returned no fire. This aircraft was definitely a Do 17 or 215 as I noticed the humped effect above the forward end of the fuselage (where the aerial is) and its high wing, as well as the twin rudders.’
So wrote Sgt Arthur Hodgkinson of No 219 Sqn on the night of 25 October 1940, having just claimed the first of his 11 victories. It was also the first enemy aircraft to be shot down by the pugnacious Bristol Beaufighter, a powerful and deadly new twin-engined fighter developed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in response to a perceived need for a long-range fighter. Based on the company’s Beaufort torpedo bomber then currently under construction, the Beaufighter was large and powerfully-armed, equipped with four Hispano 20 mm cannon and six Browning 0.303-in machine guns.
First flown in July 1939, the Beaufighter’s pace of development was such that just over a year later, with the Battle of Britain at its height, the first production aircraft were delivered to operational units – R2056 went to No 25 Sqn, R2072 to No 29 Sqn, R2070 to No 219 Sqn, R2065 to No 600 Sqn and R2073 to No 604 Sqn. All were designated as nightfighter squadrons and all flew converted Blenheim light bombers fitted with gun packs. Some were also fitted with AI radar. The Beaufighters of the initial batch were fitted with the cannon only, but also had the AI Mk IV radar with the characteristic ‘bow and arrow’ nose and wing blade aerials.
One of the first Beaufighter Is delivered to an operational squadron was R2069, which went to No 25 Sqn at Debden. Initially flown in factory-applied day fighter camouflage, the aircraft were soon painted black, but this example was still wearing these colours when flown by future ace Flg Off Mike Herrick the following spring (RAFM)
Operations began on 17 September when No 29 Sqn’s CO, Wg Cdr S C Widdows, with Plt Off Watson as radar operator, flew an uneventful patrol in R2072. The first unit declared operational, however, was ‘B’ Flight of No 219 Sqn after it had moved to Redhill. The other units, too, worked up intensively as the Beaufighter’s capability was desperately needed with the Luftwaffe turning increasingly to night attacks against Britain’s seemingly defenceless cities. The frustration is evident from the comments of future ace Flg Off Johnny Topham
The leading early Beaufighter exponent was Flt Lt John Cunningham of No 604 Sqn. A prewar auxiliary, he claimed the type’s first victory using the AI radar on 19 November 1940 when he brought down a Ju 88. Cunningham ended the war with 20 victories, 16 of them scored with the Beaufighter (author’s collection)
‘My time with No 219 Sqn was eventful, particularly in respect of the development of a nightfighter system, the whole of which had to function satisfactorily before, in early 1941, interception successes began to happen at night – too late, regretfully, for us to have any effect on the 1940 bomber raids on London and elsewhere. We were at Redhill during this period, but could do no more than watch the frightful devastation.’
He was airborne on the night of 25 October when Hodgkinson, with Sgt Benn, in R2097 claimed the aircraft’s significant ‘first’. It acted as a powerful morale-booster. The Beaufighter had a great impact on its pilots, many of whom would gain considerable success flying it. One was pre-war Auxiliary Flt Lt Roderick Chisholm of No 604 Sqn, who said
‘One day at the end of October 1940, the first Beaufighter arrived at Middle Wallop. On the ground it was an ominous and rather unwieldy looking aircraft, with its outsize undercarriage and propellers and small wings, but in the air it looked just right. It had an improved type of radar and four cannon but, most important of all, it had a cockpit out of which the pilot could see well. If there were sufficient external guides – a skyline or moonlit ground – it was easy enough to fly steadily, as in daylight. But if these aids were absent, the night very dark and visibility poor, instrument flying in the early Beaufighter called for unceasing and most exacting concentration.’
It was the combination of the Beaufighter’s performance and armament, allied to the development of ground radar control to position the nightfighter close enough to enable it to pick up targets on its own AI radar for the final attack, that eventually began to help counter the Luftwaffe’s night Blitz on Britain. One of the first radar contacts of an enemy aircraft came in the early hours of 18 November. Flg Off ‘Bob’ Braham of No 29 Sqn, who later became the most successful Beaufighter ace, gained a fleeting contact. But the first success came the following night when Flt Lt John Cunningham and Sgt J R Phillipson of No 604 Sqn, flying R2098, claimed the Beaufighter’s first victory using AI radar. It was also Cunningham’s first victory and was vividly described by the man who was soon to be his navigator, ‘Jimmy’ Rawnsley
Still displaying its delivery number on the nacelle after being flown to Middle Wallop in October 1940, Beaufighter IF R2101/NG-R later became the mount of Flt Lt John Cunningham in early 1941. He would claim ten victories while flying it (P H T Green collection)
The cockpit of a Beaufighter IF, with the aircraft’s distinctive control column dominating the photograph (author’s collection)
‘On the night of 20 November John and Phillipson went off on patrol. There were hostile aircraft about, and John was vectored after one of them. After a while he saw a concentration of searchlights on the clouds and he headed towards it. Phillipson was gazing intently at the cathode ray tubes, and then he got a good, firm contact. During the chase that followed, he was able to bring John into close range of the target they were following. John was searching the dark sky ahead, and for perhaps the tenth time he forced himself to look away from a cluster of stars that seemed to move in a different way from the others. As he did so, a vague, dark shape formed around them, only to dissolve again as he looked directly at it. He climbed a little closer and a silhouette took definite shape. At last, after all the long months of trial and error, of strain, worry and frustration, he had come to grips with the enemy. A few minutes later the stricken enemy bomber – it was a Junkers 88 – was plunging to earth, and for the first time an AI-equipped Beaufighter proved its worth on routine operational flying with a squadron.’
Their victim was Ju 88A B3+VL of 3./KG54. HQ Fighter Command was ecstatic, but to preserve the secrets of AI radar, the story of John Cunningham’s incredible night vision was fed to the press, earning him his detested ‘Cat’s Eyes’ nickname. Yet the number of nightfighter victories was to be relatively insignificant for the next three months, although training and greater experience eventually paid a handsome dividend, as is described in the following chapters.
COUNTERING THE BLITZ
After their initial success, John Cunningham and J R Phillipson found action again on the evening of 23 December 1940. About 50 miles south of the Dorset coast they located a He 111 that was thought to be a pathfinder of KG 100. After a slow approach, Cunningham opened fire and the bomber plunged into cloud in a spectacular pyrotechnic display to mark his second success. The mid-winter nights found the nocturnal attacks on British cities increasing, and the means to counter this threat were pursued with urgency by Fighter Command.
By the start of 1941 Beaufighters had largely replaced Blenheims in the initial cadre of units, which were allocated to various sectors around the country. Split between Catterick, in Yorkshire, and Drem, near Edinburgh, was No 600 Sqn, led by pre-war Schneider Trophy winner Wg Cdr George Stainforth. At Digby was No 29 Sqn, which late in 1940 was joined by a talented young bomber pilot on a ‘rest’ tour. Flt Lt Guy Gibson is remembered by one of his groundcrew, LAC Fred Pedgeon
‘He came off a tour with Bomber Command’s No 83 Sqn, and during his time with No 29 Sqn got three enemy aircraft. I well remember him for his sense of fair play, and total dedication to flying. Incidents like taking off full-bore at night from dispersal and just clearing the boundary trees in his efforts to get a Hun were also very memorable.’
Gibson’s logbook recorded his first brush with the enemy in a Beaufighter on 11 December 1940
‘Chased bomber out over the sea and eventually shot at it with two short bursts at 800 yards 60 miles east of Mablethorpe. Identified as a Ju 88. No damage observed and enemy aircraft lost in cloud.’
Further south at Debden, in Essex, was No 25 Sqn, soon to be commanded by Wg Cdr David Atcherley. ‘A’ Flight commander was Sqn Ldr Harold ‘Flash’ Pleasance, a future ace who flew his first sortie in R2156 on the 9 December. On the south coast at Tangmere, in Sussex, was No 219 Sqn, which in February 1941 came under the control of Wg Cdr Tom Pike, who claimed six kills between March and June. Finally, at Middle Wallop, in Hampshire, was Sqn Ldr M F Anderson’s No 604 Sqn, which was to find much early success, thus setting the pace for these first units.
It became evident from the start that constant practice was required to master the radar techniques and develop the cooperation so vital for successful nightfighting. John Cunningham later stated, ‘It was a long hard grind and very frustrating. It was a struggle to continue flying on instruments at night. The essential was teamwork’. Close co-ordination and trust between pilot and radar operator (later re-styled as navigator-radio) was essential. Crews were left together to forge this bond, and many of the more successful remained so throughout the war.
Perhaps the most famous of these early teams was that of Cunningham and his pre-war Auxiliary air gunner, Sgt ‘Jimmy’ Rawnsley. They flew their first operational Beaufighter patrol in mid December, and on 12 January 1941 made their first patrol in R2101/NG-R in which they were to find such success over the next few months. That night, under control of Tangmere GCI site (call-sign ‘Boffin’) they closed and identified a He 111, which they hit and damaged. But a cannon problem denied the pair their first victory together. Nonetheless, further dusk patrols were mounted over the Channel by the squadron in an effort to catch the pathfinders. Their first success was not long in coming, for on the evening of 15 February they downed a He 111, as depicted on the cover of this book. Two nights later No 219 Sqn was back scoring, as their diary noted
The leading fighter pilot of the night Blitz was Sqn Ldr John Cunningham of No 604 Sqn, who claimed ten victories while flying Beaufighter IF R2101/NG-R from Middle Wallop between February and May 1941. Note the aircraft’s wing aerials (via R C B Ashworth)
‘Do 17 destroyed by Sqn Ldr Little in R2154 with Sgt Pyne, which crashed between Maidenhead and Guildford, three of the crew becoming prisoners. The success came after a long period of hard luck and had a