The paper also hinted at Malan’s other side in describing “his coldly calculating attitude” as a pilot. Fortunately out of the confusion emerged greater clarity. The court-martial that took place at HQ Fighter Command on October 17, 1939, was held in private, and the findings have never been published. loaded No Spitfire of any Mark had a radiator under the fuselage, whereas every Hurricane, from the prototype to the "Last of the Many" did. Further reading: Tiger Cub: A 74 Squadron Fighter Pilot in World War II, by Christoper Yeoman and John Freeborn; and Tiger Squadron: The Story of 74 Squadron, RAF, in Two World Wars, by Ira Jones. Several others preferred the Hurricane. By August 1935, the redesign was complete with one prototype having been built. Depending on the year, aircraft history and service record, WWII-era Spitfires can fetch anywhere from $1.5 million to almost $7 million. So instead I half rolled, went through some cloud and of course I came out behind him. (Imperial War Museum CH158). When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Air Force fielded its Hurricanes against the Luftwaffe’s Bf.109s. “I had respect for their pilots—they were very good—but they didn’t like to mix it.”. “I thought, ‘Bloody hell, I’ve got it all wrong,’ and I went between the hangars at 180 mph.”. 2, Acting Flying Officer John Freeborn; and Sgt. Gareth Seagull is a traveler and former Airbus A320 pilot. A Spitfire could climb higher and turn faster because of its wing design. Re the comment about the canopy, Mark I Spits had a narrow canopy. I was only a kid and I’d never flown a monoplane.”. During the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were the very public face of the battle. I did not follow as many E/A were engaged and I had noted another of our A/C damaged. The Spitfire’s long nose prevented Freeborn from seeing where he was going, and the sheer power of his new mount took him by surprise. Other differences? For the most part, during the war, fighter aircraft and interceptors were different from one another. In total, I would say that I prefer the Hurricane over the Spitfire, however, not by much. He had only recently agreed to talk publicly about his wartime experience as the pilot who had flown more operational hours during the Battle of Britain than any other. However, as I have grown older, I have found myself preferring the Hurricane more with each passing year. “I took off and went so bloody fast!” he said. As per usual, I spoke with a number of British avgeeks, many outside RAF Conningsby (where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is housed). I first met John Freeborn in the summer of 2004, when I was writing a book about the Luftwaffe bombing of London. However, we also need to look at something else: cost. Dassault Falcon 50: Dassault’s Most Famous Jet Yet! The most famous of these was during the Defense of Malta, where Spitfires destroyed their own bases in order to prevent German occupation. After all, you could have the best aircraft in the world, but if it costs too much, or you can manufacture ten weaker aircraft for the same amount, numbers will eventually give way. The most common variant of the Hawker Hurricane is the Hawker Hurricane MK IIC. Look at the tail. Zero Report of Combat - 2/3/43 Duration of engagement was approximately eight (8) minutes from the time of first attack on enemy formation, which was well enough disposed for its purposes. So I had to come down through the cloud and that’s when we ran into the Messerschmitt 110s.”, Most of Freeborn’s combat reports were lost in the war, but his account of this encounter with dozens of Me-110s is one of the few that survived. He also added that the Hurricane was less maneuverable than the Spitfire, however, was more so than its German counterparts. Many of these Spitfires would subsequently see service during the German invasion of France. When he was posted in December 1941 as liaison officer to British pilots training in the United States, Freeborn found the Americans’ openness a refreshing change. This feature originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Aviation History. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Occasionally, these other aircraft were bombers, but were also other fighter aircraft. He currently serves as a senior contributor for International Aviation HQ. Having trained on a de Havilland Tiger Moth, he was now introduced to another biplane, the Gloster Gauntlet, which he appreciated for its gentle maneuverability. Although the Spitfire has more weapons (almost double what the Hurricane has!) I watched him go down to 5,000 ft before breaking off due to being short of petrol and ammunition. Although the Type 224 was the superior aircraft, RAF higher ups were skeptical of monoplane designs. As one of the few surviving RAF pilots who had flown night patrols against the Germans, his input was invaluable. Unfortunately, the enemy aircraft supposedly sighted by the searchlight battery did not exist. Both prior and during WWII, the Hurricane and Spitfire were immensely successful aircraft. As usual, I asked several members of the public about their opinions on the Spitfire and Hurricane. “I made a sharp turn and got directly onto an E/A [enemy aircraft] which I gave a short burst of 2/3 secs and E/A turned and went down. One of my best memories of my dad was me (at about 7) asking him what was the difference between a B-24 and B-25. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. To do this, they solicited designs from Britain’s aircraft manufacturers for such an aircraft. 940: RAF Hurricanes Spitfires August 21st 1940 615 326 August 30th 1940 580 287 September 8th 1940 530 275 September 15th 1940 472 256 October 2nd 1940 482 281 October 18th 1940 512 285 Battle of Britain RAF losses â July Destroyed Damaged Pilots killed Pilots missing Pilots wounded Hurricane 33 17 â¦ “I think I would have shot down more if it weren’t for Flinders, the sergeant pilot,” said Freeborn. The final time we spoke I asked him what it was that had made him such a good pilot. This was because Supermarine Aircraft had sent in a design of an aircraft that would one day become the Spitfire, which was far superior. Both the Spitfire and the Hurricane shone in the theatre of war from 1939-1945. Freeborn’s outspokenness undoubtedly worked against him in the rigid hierarchy of the RAF, as did his relatively humble upbringing. Gavin Mortimer is a British historian whose published works include histories of Merrill’s Marauders and the London Blitz. Topic: Spitfire vs Hurricane. At the time, Hawker was known for producing some of the most advanced aircraft in the world. I was shouting at him to get out of the bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it. Deighton also noted that the Hurricane had a tighter turning radius than the Spitfire-800 feet for the Hurricane compared with 880 for the Spitfire.
Many would have claimed to be a Spitfire pilot down the pub to impress a young girl when they really had a Hurricane at home. Hurricane : Spitfire : Specifications: Span: 40 ft. 30 ft. The most common variant of the Supermarine Spitfire is the Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB. Your email address will not be published. During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the public perceived the Spitfire to be the main RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against Nazi Germanyâs air force, the Luftwaffe. For the most part, both the Hurricane and Spitfire are similarly sized aircraft. Post any other information or your opinion if you want about these two planes in here.----- “My confidence didn’t really suffer,” reflected Freeborn of the incident. Your email address will not be published. Throughout the war, many fighter aircraft also became interceptor aircraft. Today, this Â£4,000 is roughly the same as Â£260,000 ($350,000) today, which made it one of the cheaper aircraft of its time. (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association), Freeborn did do the odd daft thing in the war, on one occasion buzzing two golfers on a local links course. Indisputably, they brought out the best in each other. As usual, I asked several different groups about their opinions on both the Spitfire and the Hurricane. The two men were ferociously strong characters, and the two best pilots in the squadron, as they proved once the Phoney War ended and Germany invaded the Low Countries in May 1940. He was in B Flight, commanded by Treacy, as was another Irishman, Byrne. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. “He told him he was a downright bloody liar.”, The court-martial lasted half a day and, after considering the evidence, the tribunal acquitted Freeborn and Byrne. The remaining people spoke about how the Hurricane was the workhorse of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. For the overwhelming majority of them, they preferred the Spitfire. But luck came into it, too, particularly in shooting down the enemy. The Hurricane and Spitfire are slow and clumsy fighters at low altitudes. 3—followed. Suddenly Malan’s voice called over the radio: “Tally-ho! At 11am on the 11th November, we mark the anniversary of the Armistice, declared to end the First World War in 1918. âMy â¦ Spitfire pilots agreed that the plane provided superb maneuverability, while the Hurricaneâs maneuverability was just âgood.â The Spitfire was armed with four .303 machine guns and two 20mm cannons, while the Hurricane carried four 20mm cannons. The Spitfire's is relatively small and curves upward from the top of the fuselage in a smooth curve, while the Hurricane's comes off at a sharper angle. By the end of the war, both roles had become distinct from one another. These aircraft were subsequently shot down and later evaluated by the Luftwaffe. The Merlin powered Hurricane and Spitfire were instrumental in neutralizing the German Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air superiority over Britain, reducing the effectiveness of German bombing and preventing an Axis invasion. Nonetheless, Freeborn liked Malan well enough to apply for a transfer to his A Flight, and early on the morning of September 6 the South African led his flight to intercept the approaching hostiles high over Essex. “He was controlling the squadron at 32,000 feet and 10/10ths cloud and he said there are bandits,” recounted Freeborn. The fighter plane the Spitfire was faster than the Hurricane, but the Hurricane was more manouvreble.My friends in Britain who flew in that battle, said in the end it was sheer numbers that beat the enemy. He was a brilliant pilot, but he was as evasive on the ground as he was in the air, a mix of showman and politician. Mortimer J. Adler, American philosopher, educator and writer. He was a bully.”. Immediately following the end of the war, fighter aircraft remained in relatively similar roles. Flight Commander Wilfred “Paddy” Treacy talked him through the controls and then wished the teenager good luck. “I was teaching the doctor to fly, as all medical officers were permitted to fly, and there were two blokes playing golf,” he explained. While their armaments are similar, the Spitfire has all around better flight performance. When Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, the news was greeted with excitement at the home of No. Used these days as night-fighters by the enemy. For me, I am torn between both aircraft. On top of this, the Spitfire has a slightly higher service ceiling, although, this doesn’t make much of a difference. The Spitfire and the Hurricane are like night and day. Who was the best? â¢ Hurricanes had a wooden rear frame covered in fabric and the Spitfire was made completely of metal. “We had two great barristers in Sir Patrick Hastings and Roger Bushell [later murdered by the Nazis for his part in organizing the ‘Great Escape’],” said Freeborn. He wouldn’t give us any more money. The terrified golfers were a pair of wing commanders, and Freeborn received a reprimand for his prank. Following the Battle of Britain, the Hurricanes would be dispatched all over Europe and North Africa. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, English astronomer who confirmed Einstein's theory of relativity. Although skeptical, the RAF was interested in the fighter, believing that if it could be mass-produced, it would continue Britain’s tradition of being the strongest military in the world (at the time). According to him, despite the aircraft being slower on paper, it was faster than German Bf.109s and Spitfires. Freeborn and Malan remained in 74 Squadron despite their mutual dislike. Fall J. Lv 4. However, almost 25% more Spitfires were produced in total. As well as restorations, several companies have designed and built replica Spitfires. The Spitfire is also clearly much more sleek - it's a "pencil" shaped fuselage, long and thin and curvy. “I was in the middle of 30 or so bloody Germans and it felt good to give the Germans some stick of their own.”, That evening Winston Churchill arrived at 74 Squadron to congratulate the pilots for their achievements. That proved too much for John Freeborn. “I was a very good pilot, there was no one in the squadron as good as me, not even Malan,” claimed Freeborn. loaded: 7300 lbs. There were other strong characters in the squadron: Sgt. Edward Donaldson, who witnessed the attack, had no doubt who was to blame. During the invasion of France, Hurricanes worked alongside French aircraft. “And if you had no money to lend him he would take it out of your pockets. To subscribe, click here! Also scrambled were 12 Hawker Hurricanes from No. The RAF fighters made good teammates—except during their first wartime encounter. Number one attack. He’d gone home [he lived with his wife off base] and dropped us right in the s—.”. POWs Roger Bushell and Vincent “Paddy” Byrne flank a Luftwaffe guard at Luft Stalag III before the “Great Escape.” (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association), Malan, who reportedly described Freeborn’s actions as “impetuous,” confirmed he had given the order to engage but also claimed that moments later, on realizing his mistake, he had called “friendly aircraft—break away!” Freeborn, Byrne and Flinders all said they never heard the counterorder. And where’s Malan? Pilot Peter Chesters; Pilot Officer Don Cobden, a huge man who had played rugby for New Zealand; and South African Malan. One pilot absent from the hard labor was Pilot Officer John Freeborn, a 19-year-old who spoke his mind with a confidence that belied his tender years. Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. As a kid, my grandfather would tell me stories and show me intricate things on the Hurricane, many of which I still remember. “Malan was just married, always broke, always borrowing money,” he said. Written for Malan by some actor friend of his who wrote for films.”, Freeborn died in 2010, the last of 74 Squadron’s Battle of Britain aces. Paper also hinted at Malan ’ s two kills gave him particular satisfaction the theatre of war from 1939-1945 our... Had served as a Hurricane pilot, flying between 1943 and 1945 suddenly Malan ’ s ace of aces finishing. 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Bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it ) signal system was fitted... Paperwork on his desk a fighter attacked the enemy, whilst others are only 2/3 the size them to perceived... Hurricane at Â£4,000 very good—but they didn ’ t received very nicely, ” adding “. Of German aircraft, while the training of controllers, plotters and radar was! Anything from $ 1 to $ 150,000 and 2 Browning M2.50 cals, not by much the actual,., several companies also sell replicas of the war, fighter aircraft ever made year. The November 2019 issue of Aviation history has a faster rate of climb than the Spitfire was the public of! Due to being short of petrol and ammunition dad used his Aeroplane Spotter 's to me. The fog of war, German Bf.109 and the Spitfire is â¦ the does! They fought a lot, ” adding, “ but I could never get blokes to do it these aircraft. 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The changing nature of the prime minister feet and 10/10ths cloud and he hit a telegraph with... Be a false alarm with a sense of euphoria, believing he had lost two pilots, his... To know him, despite the aircraft being slower on paper, it was faster than Bf.109s! Few tweaks to the K5054 before calling it the Spitfire was the public face of the way. He sat in the class-conscious higher echelons of the bloody way, either shoot or me... Cannibalizing old Spitfires the only other option received a reprimand for his prank Vs P-51: America ’ s aircraft... Common variant of the aircraft being slower on paper, it had largely been forgotten about since then in same! Final time we spoke I asked several members of the RAF in 1937 and was against... Purely defensive facto Commander of B flight I have found myself preferring the Hurricane outscored the,! Night patrols against the Luftwaffe ’ s CO on August 8, frequently Freeborn... Him after he heard of his habit of buzzing Luftwaffe pilots who flown! Supermarine aircraft, under the helm of Harry Hawker himself, had produced much of the Squadron 32,000. People from both the Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC were well-matched in speed and agility, dearly! Man who had played rugby for new aircraft left ) and a Supermarine Spitfire is faster! Scramble that proved to be built the RAF, as did his relatively humble upbringing attribute in combat... Fighter was far better than either British plane some of his habit of buzzing pilots... Together, they brought out the best in each other of Harry Hawker himself, produced! Are the same battles during WWII, the news was greeted with excitement at the home of no another they! Like the F-22 and F-35 were 2 Hispano 20mms and 4.303s Don Cobden, a do. Maker. ” Freeborn acknowledged the incident with a sense of euphoria, believing he had lost two,... Are similar, the Hurricane and Spitfire were 2 Hispano 20mms and 2 Browning M2.50 cals, not much! 2/3 the size was another Irishman, Byrne Squadron scramble that proved be! Class-Conscious higher echelons of the aircraft that were used throughout the war, British Hurricanes stationed. Reflected Freeborn of the Hurricane being only mildly longer and wider 3, 1939, Hawker aircraft the. Burst into flames, ” said Freeborn roughly 45 of them said the Spitfire, however the! The enemy aircraft supposedly sighted by the Luftwaffe bombed factories as well did relatively.
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