Last action of the Spitfire..

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by Seawitch, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Seawitch

    Seawitch Member

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    Hi all
    I gather the Israeli's used the spitfire at Suez as late as 1956.....from the write up on a model kit I built as a boy mind!
    Does anybody know more about this, perhaps the very last action of the Spitfire, was it here, or elsewhere?
     
  2. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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  3. Seawitch

    Seawitch Member

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    Thanks for this Flyboy, good reading and I dare say I was a bit taken aback!
     
  4. glennasher

    glennasher Member

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    I'm not sure of the timeframe, but Spitfires were also used in the Malaysian campaigns (early '50s?).
     
  5. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    The final military sorties of the Spitfire were mock combats flown against RAF Lightnings in, if I remember rightly, 1962. They were brought temporarily out of retirement so that Lightning pilots could train against slower flying piston fighters as the RAF were preparing for the possibility of taking on Indonesian P-51's and fancied a bit of DACT, as it would now be called, beforehand. As far as I am aware this was the last time the Spitfire flew on military duty other than BBMF duties.
     
  6. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    That would have been interesting to watch a Spitfire against a Lightning!
    The Lightning was developed as an Interceptor to combat Soviet Bombers probing the UK's air defences. It had a tremendous rate of climb and was a fast jet. I thought it only carried air to air missiles - but could be mistaken? It would have to adopt a shoot and scoot tactic against a Spitfire or try to bounce it!
    There are lots of threads which cover this same sort of differential in speeds in combat and the tactics needed to be successful.
    Still would be fun to watch!
     
  7. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that's right Waynos - 1962. Results of the tests showed that the best way to combat a piston engine aircraft in a jet was to attack it from below and behind.
     
  8. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #8 Colin1, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
    The Final Act
    Air Vice Marshal John Nicholls CBE DFC AFC


    In 1963 one of the few surviving airworthy Spitfires was flown in a battle trial against a Mach 2 Lightning fighter.

    In 1963 I was the Wing Commander in charge of the Air Fighting Development Squadron (the successor to the earlier Air Fighting Development Unit) which was part of the Central Fighter Establishment at RAF Binbrook. Earlier, the CFE had taken on charge a Spitfire Mk XIX orginally intended for mounting on the station front gate: instead, she had been maintained in a flyable condition.

    This was at the time of the Indonesian confrontation and, since the Indonesian Air Force operated a large number of P-51 fighters, we were very interested in discovering how best a Lightning might engage such an aircraft. In the RAF we did not have any P-51s but at Binbrook we did have our Spitfire with a performance which was, in many respects, similar. Thus it came about that our Spitfire came to be involved in a short battle trial pitted against a fighter which was her successor by three generations.

    Of course, from the outset we knew that the Lightning could overtake the Spitfire by nearly a thousand miles per hour - there was no need to run a trial to prove that. But we did find that the piston-engined fighter presented a very poor target to infra-red homing missiles, especially from the rear aspect and since the Lightning would therefore very likely have to follow up its missile pass with a gun attack, a high overtaking speed would have made accurate firing very difficult. On the other hand, if the Lightning pilot slowed down too much he could end up playing the slower and more manoeuverable fighter's dogfighting game and lose.

    None of this was new; we had learned the same lessons during trials flown between the Lightning and the Hunter. Another problem was that if the Spitfire pilot had sufficient warning of the attack, he could come around to meet it head-on - thus presenting the most difficult target of all.

    In the end we evolved a type of attack that was the antithesis of all I had learned from my own operational experience of fighter vs fighter combat in Korea: instead of trying to get above the enemy and diving on him to attack, we found it best to use the Lightning's very high power:weight ratio to make a climbing attack from behind and below. From that angle the field of view from the Spitfire was poor, there was a good chance of achieving surprise and the infra-red source gave the best chance for missile acquisition.

    If the Lightning pilot did not acquire the target or bring his guns to bear on his first pass, he could continue his steep climb - which the Spitfire could not hope to follow - and when out of range he could dive and repeat the process. Using such tactics, we felt that in the end a competent Lightning pilot could almost always get the better of an equally competent Spitfire (or P-51) pilot.

    Almost certainly that trial at RAF Binbrook was the final operational act carried out in earnest in the Spitfire's long career.
     
  9. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Wonder if the best way to counter such an attack for the Spitfire would be to get down in the grass and force the Lightning to come down at him. Would create a very tricky problem for the jet.
     
  10. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #10 Colin1, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
    I would imagine
    the jet jock's task would be made nigh impossible by that move. They also don't disclose anything about the Spitfire/P-51 pilot's reaction to the failed first pass; he's not going sit there in his own little world waiting for the second pass to build up.
     
  11. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Great info mate! Had a feeling it was '63 too, but remembered it as '62....just goes to show, always trust your instincts! :)
     
  12. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #12 imalko, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
    Israeli Spitfire with Yugoslav Insignia
    Spitfire Mk IXe, SL 632, of the Israeli Air Force. Here seen with temporary Yugoslav markings adopted for the route Prague-Nikšić during VELVETA II ferry mission in December 1948. The Israeli Spitfires were without armament, carrying a single 90 gallons slipper tank coupled with two 300 liters Erla tanks under the wings.

    Source of the illustration: "Spitfajer" written by Aleksandar Kolo and Bojan Dimitrijević, published by Aero Art - Belgrade in 1997, artist: Viktor Kozlik

    [​IMG]

    If you wish to read more about how some Spitfires were flown to Israel check the fallowing link (post #8 titled Operation "VELVETA"):
    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/yugoslav-airmen-their-aircraft-world-war-2-a-20232.html
     
  13. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The Israelis didn't use Spitfires in combat in the 1956 war. The Egyptians did according to their accounts, a Spitfire F22 of their training school was pressed into service as ground attack a/c on at least one combat sortie. See "Wings Over Suez" by Brian Cull, thorough blow by blow of that air war.

    As far as the British, Spitfires were used in actual combat in Malayan Emergency as mentioned through early '50's. Also, there were overflights of Communist Chinese territory by recon Spitfires in the same period. For a more conventional war, Seafire Mk.47's were used in HMS Triumph's first deployment to Korea in 1950, first joint strike with USS Valley Forge v targets around Pyongyang July 3 1950. One Seafire was shot down by a B-29 in a case of mistaken identity later in July.

    Joe
     
  14. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    The last operational Spitfire sortie in the RAF was flown by PR.19 PS888 on 1 April 1954 over Malaya. Spit PR19s continued second-line service flying weather recce sorties with the Temperature and Humidity Flight (THUM Flt) at RAF Woodvale until 1957 when they were replaced by Mosquitos. The THUM Spits then formed the nucleus of what was to become the BBMF.

    Hope this helps...
     
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