Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FlyPast 2010-07

Since the end of the Battle of Britain, there has been almost endless discussion about the various merits of the fighters involved. Most conclude, however, that, on balance, there was not much in it between the Spitfire I and the Messerschmitt Bf 109E. On paper, the maximum speeds of the two were about the same, while the Spitfire could out-turn a Bf 109E, something that has always been viewed as a key attribute in dog-fighting. "But who gives a bugger about turning?" says Iom Neil, a former pilot in 249 Squadron and veteran of the Battle, who adds: "You dont need to turn. All you need to do is go like a bat out of hell, catch the other fellow, fire your guns, and disappear. These things the Me 109 did very, very well. It could catch us and it could run away from us, almost at will." Tom is quite right. When compared with the either the Spitfire or Hurricane Mk Is, the Me 109E had a superior rate of climb and speed of dive, and most definitely vastly superior firepower. These were the key ingredients to successfully shooting down lots of the enemy in the summer of 1940.