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  • Worthwhile Watching

    Posted by David Foster on July 16th, 2017 (All posts by )

    A good video on the women who flew military aircraft in Britain during WWII.  Title is a little misleading, lots of airplane types other than Spitfires were involved.


    6 Responses to “Worthwhile Watching”

    1. dearieme Says:

      Thank you for that. I’d heard of them, of course, but hadn’t realised that some were just kids. “Too young for a driving licence”: yikes!

    2. dearieme Says:

      Maybe this should be compulsory viewing for snowflakes?

    3. David Foster Says:

      One of the first radar-equipped night fighters was the Bristol Beaufighter…a big, heavy airplane which was not universally admired or even liked by those who were to fly it. The following story is told:

      Our first A.I (Airborne Interception) night fighter aircraft were twin engine Blenheims. They were rather slow and were soon replaced by Beaufighters, which were a very different “kettle of fish”. With their huge Bristol radial engines, four 20mm cannon and six machine guns they looked and were very tough planes and fast for their time. They were not difficult to fly but demanded attention at all times on the part of the pilots, many of whom had little flying experience. We had one or two crashes and murmurs started among the aircrew, who were changing over from other much less sophisticated aircraft, that it was a dangerous plane. One rumor, which began to be voiced openly on our three squadrons, was that these aircraft could not be maneuvered or landed on one engine, A few days after the rumors began, all aircrew were called one afternoon to parade on the airfield outside one of the hangars. No one knew the purpose of the parade and once all were present they were stood at ease chatting and asking each other what this was all about. After a few minutes a single Beaufighter roared in low over the horizon. It came over the field a few feet from the ground climbed almost vertically and performed every aerobatic stunt in the book. The pilot then shut off one engine, feathered the propeller and repeated all the previous maneuvers with one propeller stationary. The plane landed, also on one engine, taxied around the perimeter track and stopped close up in front of the assembled aircrews. The engine was shut down and the pilot climbed down the ladder from the plane. The pilot was the only person in the plane, a very young woman, with her blonde hair blowing in the breeze as she walked over to report to the control tower. Not a word was spoken and the Squadron Commander dismissed the assembled aircrew. No one ever complained again regarding the performance of the Beaufighter.

    4. Mike K Says:

      The P 61 Black Widow was the US radar equipped nightfighter. I don’t know that it ever got to Europe,

      It also was used in Europe and replaced the beaufighter.

      In early August 1944, the 422d NFS transferred to Maupertus, France, and began to encounter German aircraft for the first time. On the night of 14–15 August 1944, “Impatient Widow”, tail number 42-5591 had its starboard engine shot out along with oil lines and hydraulics while attempting to intercept a Heinkel He 177A-5 of 5.Staffel/Kampfgeschwader 40, code F8+AN, Werknummer 550 077, flown by Hptm. Stolle. The downing was witnessed by two other Heinkels, occurring North of Barfleur, Normandy. A Bf 110 was shot down, and shortly afterwards, the squadron’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel O. B. Johnson, his P-61 already damaged by anti aircraft land fire, shot down a Fw 190. The 425th NFS scored its first kill shortly afterwards.

      They were more effective in the Pacific.

    5. David Foster Says:

      There is a P-61 under restoration at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.

    6. Mike K Says:

      Thanks for that link, David.

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