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Old 23-05-2016, 12:40 PM   #53
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I had two uncles flying in the RAF in WW2 and both survived, one was Czech. Another uncle flew for the Navy. The Spitfire gets more headlines than the Hurricane which upset some RAF pilots as the Hurricane did most of the work and shot down more planes. But the tale of how the Spitfire was funded (unlike the Messershmitts etc in Germany which is shown in the post above) is one of the most extraordinary of all and explains its enduring popularity. This article was only written a couple of months ago:

“The power and the glamour of the Spitfire would make the aircraft a firm favourite from almost the moment it first flew, in March 1936. Eighty years on, the Spitfire remains one of the most admired of all fighter aircraft, but the story of its unique connection with the British public - who dug into their own pockets to pay for its production - is less well-known.
"When my mummy has taken me out and I have wanted to use a public convenience she has had to pay a penny. So I thought if we did the same at home it would help your fund."
So wrote eight-year-old Patricia Boncey to Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, to accompany her postal order for 15 shillings.
"The Spitfire funds were a home front phenomenon," says aviation historian Paul Beaver.
"The aircraft, and the idea of buying one, seemed to hit the national psyche.
"Britain wanted to believe in something and the Spitfire, that combination of beauty and power, was the great saviour."
Almost from the moment it took to the air in 1936, the Spitfire inspired movie star-style attention, overshadowing the contemporary Hurricane fighter.
This ability to amaze and inspire was embodied by the fund movement, which obsessed much of Britain and beyond.
Donations ranging from pocket money pennies to king's ransoms eventually raised about £13m (£650m at modern values).
But the story behind this generosity was one of crisis, improvisation and a pushy Canadian.
War is an expensive business and 1914-18, coupled with the Great Depression of the 1920s, had left Britain saddled with huge debts.
The policy of avoiding war by making concessions to Hitler - known as appeasement - was in part prompted by a national bank balance firmly in the red
Spitfire fact file
First flight: 5 March 1936
Entered service: 4 August 1938
Max speed: (Mk1 at 15,000ft) 346mph (557km/h)
Dimensions: (Mk1) wingspan: 36ft 10in (11.2m), length: 29ft 11in (9.1m), height: 11ft 5in (3.5m)
Armament: (Mk1) 8 Browning .303 machine guns
Numbers built: 20,351
Last RAF operational flight: 1 April 1954

Why do we love Spitfires?
But as the ambitions of Nazi Germany became clear, there was a scramble to rebuild the neglected armed forces.
In early 1940 Lord Beaverbrook - the Anglo-Canadian media tycoon Max Aitken - came into government to speed up aircraft production.
Beaverbrook pushed the idea of public appeals, for example to source raw materials and to encourage thrifty shopping, in a bid to help with the war effort.
Breathless press coverage of the Spitfire brought unsolicited enquiries about helping get more planes in the air.
The two ideas came together. In May 1940, Spitfire funds took off.
The aircraft were priced at an entirely theoretical £5,000.
Within weeks funds were set up by councils, businesses, voluntary organisations and individuals
Fired by the sight of German planes overhead during the Battle of Britain, more than 1,400 appeals were set up.
Many were co-ordinated by local newspapers, which carried lists of individual donations: "From all at No.15 Station Lane", "My week's pocket money - Fred Smith aged 7″, "My first week's old age pension - 10 shillings towards our Spitfire".
Matt Brosnan from the Imperial War Museum says: "Quite quickly the BBC was listing the latest successful funds and major donations at the end of news bulletins and takings were averaging over £1m a month.
"Almost every big town in Britain came to have its name on a Spitfire by the end. Even anti-aircraft batteries and aircraft factories contributed. The miners of Durham contributed two Spitfires, even though suffering with heavy unemployment."
To encourage the idea every penny counted, a components price list was published, included a wing for £2,000, a gun at £200, down to a spark plug at 8 shillings, or a rivet at sixpence.
Imagination and dedication led to countless fund-raising ideas. Everyone could "do their bit".
A Kent farmer charged people sixpence "to see the only field in Kent without a German aircraft in it".
During an air raid, the manager of a London cinema pushed a wheelbarrow up and down the aisle, asking for donations: "The more you give, the less raids there will be". There were table-top sales, auctions and raffles.
The Wiltshire village of Market Lavington drew the outline of a Spitfire in the square and challenged residents to fill it with coins. The task was completed within days.
In Liverpool, it was reported a "lady of the night" left £3 at the police station "for the Spitfire Fund", this amount being the standard fine for soliciting.
Another part of the magic mix of the Spitfire funds was contributors could have a dedication of their choice put on the Spitfire. This would be commemorated with a plaque and photograph of the named Spitfire.
The results veered between the mundane, hilarious and downright mysterious.
Those cinema donations resulted in no less than four "Miss ABCs".
The Kennel Club called its Spitfire 'The Dog Fighter', while Woolworths named "Nix Six Primus" and "Nix Six Secundus" after its pre-war policy of keeping prices below sixpence.
Remarkably, even prisoners of war got in on the act. Inmates of Oflag VIB donated a month's pay and, via the Red Cross, it went to "Unshackled Spirit".
It was truly a global appeal.
Spitfire "Dorothy of Great Britain and Empire" was paid for by a fund made up entirely of women and girls of that name. Uruguay, diplomatically neutral, funded 17.
Many countries donated enough for entire squadrons to bear their name, including No.74 (Trinidad), No.167 (Gold Coast) and No.114 (Hong Kong).
Some stories are more poignant. The small communities of Holmesfield, Derbyshire and St Michel-le-Pit in south Wales somehow raised the money to pay for Spitfires named 'Shepley' and 'Norman Merrett' in honour of bereaved local families.
Spitfire "Fun of the Fair" was named after an appeal by various circuses, fairgrounds and carnivals, set up in a bid to counter accusations the travelling community was shirking war duties.
Not everyone took the scheme in the intended spirit. In August 1940 a building worker from Ilford was jailed for running fake Spitfire funds.
Local rivalries ran deep. One councillor Arnold Ingham warned colleagues "If we should have a dogfight over Lytham St Annes let us have a Spitfire of our own to deal with it and not have to send to Fleetwood or Blackpool to borrow theirs."
The funds raised enough for about 2,600 Spitfires but incomplete records mean fewer than 1,600 can be traced.
The RAF had about 300 Spitfires fighting in the Battle of Britain at any one time, with total combat losses estimated at about 260.
By the end of 1940, factories were turning out up to 350 a month.
But did the funds make a difference to the war?
Mark Harrison, professor of economics at the University of Warwick, says the answer has echoes in the present.
"Only after ensuring the supply of Spitfires did the government worry about how to pay for them.
"The funds were like today's 'sponsor a panda' and 'buy a metre of rainforest' appeals. In any immediate sense these make no difference to the number of pandas or the amount of rainforest.
"Spitfire funds did not pay for Spitfires, but they were still an essential part of the war effort.
"Without them the war would eventually have gone less well in one aspect or another. There would have been a cost."

So what about that poor relation?

“The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft of the 1930s-1940s that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire, the aircraft became renowned during the Battle of Britain, accounting for 60% of the RAF's air victories in the battle, and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War.
The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as fighters, bomber-interceptors, fighter-bombers (also called "Hurribombers") and ground support aircraft. Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications which enabled operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as "Hurricats". More than 14,583 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including at least 800 converted to Sea Hurricanes and some 1,400 built in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry).

At the time that the Hurricane was developed, RAF Fighter Command consisted of just 13 squadrons, each equipped with either the Hawker Fury, Hawker Demon, or the Bristol Bulldog, all biplanes with fixed-pitch wooden propellers and non-retractable undercarriages….The same year the Hawker Board of Directors voted to tool-up for and build a production line at company expense for 1,000 Hurricanes .
RAF trials of the aircraft at Martlesham Heath began in February 1936. Sammy Wroath, later to be the founding Commandant of the Empire Test Pilot School, was the RAF test pilot for the Hurricane: his report was favorable, stating, "The aircraft is simple and easy to fly and has no apparent vices" and going on to praise its control response
The Hurricane was ordered into production in June 1936, mainly due to its relatively simple construction and ease of manufacture. As war was looking increasingly likely, and time was of the essence in providing the RAF with an effective fighter aircraft, it was unclear if the more advanced Spitfire would enter production smoothly, while the Hurricane used well-understood manufacturing techniques. This was true for service squadrons as well, which were experienced in working on and repairing aircraft whose construction employed the same principles as the Hurricane, and the simplicity of its design enabled the improvisation of some remarkable repairs in squadron workshops. The Hurricane was also significantly cheaper than the Spitfire, requiring 10,300 man hours to produce versus 15,200 for the Spitfire
The maiden flight of the first production aircraft, powered by a Merlin II engine, took place on 12 October 1937. The first four aircraft to enter service with the RAF joined No. 111 Squadron RAF at RAF Northolt the following December. By the outbreak of the Second World War, nearly 500 Hurricanes had been produced, and had equipped 18 squadrons.
During 1940, Lord Beaverbrook, who was the Minister of Aircraft Production, established an organisation in which a number of manufacturers were seconded to repair and overhaul battle-damaged Hurricanes…..
The first 50 Hurricanes had reached squadrons by the middle of 1938. At that time, production was slightly greater than the RAF's capacity to introduce the new aircraft and the government gave Hawker the clearance to sell the excess to nations likely to oppose German expansion. As a result, there were some modest sales to other countries. Production was then increased with a plan to create a reserve of aircraft as well as re-equip existing squadrons and newly formed ones such as those of the Auxiliary Air Force. Expansion scheme E included a target of 500 fighters of all types by the start of 1938. By the time of the Munich Crisis, there were only two fully operational squadrons of the planned 12 with Hurricanes. By the time of the German invasion of Poland, there were 18 operational Hurricane squadrons and three more converting.
At the end of June 1940, following the fall of France, the majority of the RAF's 36 fighter squadrons were equipped with Hurricanes. The Battle of Britain officially lasted from 10 July until 31 October 1940, but the heaviest fighting took place between 8 August and 21 September. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hurricane are renowned for their part in defending Britain against the Luftwaffe; generally, the Spitfire would intercept the German fighters, leaving Hurricanes to concentrate on the bombers, but despite the undoubted abilities of the "thoroughbred" Spitfire, it was the "workhorse" Hurricane that scored the higher number of RAF victories during this period, accounting for 55 percent of the 2,739 German losses, according to Fighter Command, compared with 42 per cent by Spitfires.
As a fighter, the Hurricane had some drawbacks. It was slower than both the Spitfire I and II and the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, and the thick wings compromised acceleration, but it could out-turn both of them. In spite of its performance deficiencies against the Bf 109, the Hurricane was still capable of destroying the German fighter, especially at lower altitudes. The standard tactic of the 109s was to attempt to climb higher than the RAF fighters and "bounce" them in a dive; the Hurricanes could evade such tactics by turning into the attack or going into a "corkscrew dive", which the 109s, with their lower rate of roll, found hard to counter. If a 109 was caught in a dogfight, the Hurricane was just as capable of out-turning the 109 as the Spitfire. In a stern chase, the 109 could easily evade the Hurricane

What a wonderful firm Hawker were and what an innovative plane this one was, only now being copied.

“The Harrier, informally referred to as the Harrier Jump Jet, is a family of jet aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) operations. Originally developed by UK manufacturer Hawker Siddeley in the 1960s, the Harrier emerged as the only truly successful V/STOL design of the many attempted during that era, despite being a subsonic aircraft, unlike most of its competitors. It was conceived to operate from improvised bases, such as car parks or forest clearings, without requiring large and vulnerable air bases. Later, the design was adapted for use from aircraft carriers.
There are two generations and four main variants of the Harrier family, developed by both UK and US manufacturers:
Hawker Siddeley Harrier
British Aerospace Sea Harrier
McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II
British Aerospace Harrier II” Wikipedia

I remember one wining the transatlantic race from the top of the Post office Tower in London to the top of the Empire State Building in New York. Most competitors raced to Heathrow to catch Concorde but our Harrier pilot took off vertically next to the tower and beat them all. Hawker was taken over and squeezed into British Aerospace in 1977 more is the pity.

Last edited by reve; 23-05-2016 at 12:43 PM.
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