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Forgotten Aircraft 1940

Forgotten Aircraft 1940

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Published by Laszlo Kantor

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Published by: Laszlo Kantor on Nov 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The forgotten aircraft of 1940
These Battle of Britain names trip off your tongue – Spitfire, Hurricane,Messerschmitt – and if you are an aficionado you may even be able to throw inHeinkel, Stuka, Dornier or even Zerstorer.But in 1940 the war in the skies over the Channel was fought not just by these aircraft, but by dozens, and their contribution is often forgotten by history’s love affair withthe Spitfire and Messerschmitt.For example, what is the aircraft to theleft? Dozens of RAF pilots reportedshooting it down, but German recordsshow not a single aircraft of this typelost.What was the most heavily armed fighter of the Battle?What was the only biplane which sawcombat in the conflict?And which lone aircraft took on 8 Ju88heavy fighters and downed six of them?
The Spitfire story galvanised a nation and became a symbol of hope at a time of despair. The Hurricane accounted for more British air victories than the Spitfire andcame to represent the British Bulldog spirit. But thanks to far sighted officials at theAir Ministry, 1940 was a time of incredible advances in air to air combat, not only inFighter Command but also in Coastal Command.The flagship of the Coastal Command fleet was the elegant but deadly S25 ShortSunderland.
The S25 Short Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for theRoyal Air Force by Short Brothers, first flown on 16 October 1937 by Shorts' Chief Test Pilot, John Lankester Parker. Based in part upon the S.23 Empire flying boat, theflagship of Imperial Airways, the S25 was extensively re-engineered for militaryservice. It was one of the most powerful and widely used flying boats throughout theSecond World War, and was involved in countering the threat posed by German U- boats in the Battle of the Atlantic.It was surprisingly in air-air combat it earned its nickname "FliegendesStachelschwein" (Flying Porcupine). On 3 April 1940, a Sunderland operating off  Norway was attacked by six German Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers and managed toshoot one down, damage another enough to send it off to a forced landing, and droveoff the rest. Believing it to be armed with a 20mm cannon, the Germans are reportedto have nicknamed the Sunderland ‘Porcupine’ due to its defensive firepower and tothe several prominent antennas protruding from it.But it was later in the war the Sunderland proved both its ability to take, and dish out punishment, as a lone RAAF Sunderland took on 8 Ju88s in a dogfight that becameknown as…
The Battle of the Bay
Time 1815 hours. The crew changed watch, which they did every hour. The pilotsmoved over, Amiss out of the flying seat and Walker into it. Dowling in to the righthand seat. Another wireless operator sat down at the set and plugged in; the engineerschanged and the relief gunners moved into the turrets. The reports, as always, cameover the intercom.“Tail to Control. Goode in position.“Midships to Control. Fuller in position.“Nose to Control. Watson in position.“Control to all positions, understood!” Simpson had left his charts and now stood inthe astrodome. He looked out over the glaring sea and into the cloudless sky. “Keep a
sharp lookout, he said deliberately, “We’re in Tiger Country. We are approaching the position where the airliner was shot down yesterday. It’s on our course, don’t forgetthe dinghy.1900 hours. Goode, swinging his tail turret to the right, suddenly stopped. His eyeswidened and his heart missed a beat.“Tail to Control,” he barked, “Eight aircraft. Thirty degrees on the port quarter. Sixmiles. Up 1,000 feet.Pause, electric silence. A moment or two of shock.Simpson suddenly jumped to the astrodome. Walker rammed his throttles wide andsounded the alarm. Dowling hauled on the pitch levers and the engines howled at2600 revolutions a minute.“Control to tail, can you identify those aircraft?”“Twin engined,” said Goode, “ Probably Junkers 88s.”They were. They came sweeping in at high speed.“Captain to wireless operator,” Walker’s voice was sharp and urgent, “Message toGroup, o/a priority. Attacked by eight Ju88s…how’s that inner engine, engineer?”“No worse, Captain, no better.”“Captain to Galley, have you got the bombracks out?”“Ready Captain.“Right, bombs gone. You’ve got to work fast. Run in the racks, close the doors, andget cracking with the galley guns. Who’s down there to man them?”“Miles on starboard, sir. Lane on the port.”“Thanks.”“Control to all positions, “ Simpson again. “They’ve spread all around us. Hold your fire until they’re in range. Don’t shoot before six hundred yards. Three on thestarboard beam, three port beam; one on each quarter. Range 1500 yards, 1500 feetup.”

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