Spitfire Compared to Hurricane in the BoB

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and then notice the swarms of men around the fighters in the posed publicity pictures kindly provided by MikeMeech.

I am not saying the Spitfire was easier to service, I don't know, but unless the times include the numbers of men involved and some idea of the conditions the early times given don't mean much.

Please note the two images 5 & 6 in MikeMeech's post. and compare them with the claim of 9 minutes to rearm the Hurricane.
The belts have to be take out of boxes (two men?) which could be done beforehand. then image #5 shows the belts all laid out on the wing (how long?) with two men working on loading the belts.

Some newsreels show 4 or more men working on one wing but again it was posed.
The Earlier photos show 4 -5 men working on the Spitfires guns.
The time study in provided by Greyman says 2 men.
From the book "Spitfire" by Alfred Price quoting W/O Fred Tandy of 616 Squadron on rearming Spitfire I's
616sq_Tandy_Spitfire_I_guns-a.jpg


616sq_Tandy_Spitfire_I_guns-b.jpg
 
Yes, that is the reference I read where they devised that strip of cloth to speed up the Spitfire arming process. Now, did they have this innovation in the BoB? It implies so.
 
Hi
The book 'The Battle of Britain, The Jubilee History' by Hough & Richards, page 170, has, the then, Sergeant Pilot Iain Hutchinson of 222 Sqn. stating:
WW2turnround009.jpg

'The Narrow Margin' by Wood & Dempster, mentions eight to ten minutes for turn round:
WW2turnround010.jpg

In 'Fly for your Life' by Forrester, page 91, has Bob Tuck mentioning competitions between Flights to speed up refuelling:
WW2turnround011.jpg

'Competition' was used quite often in the British forces (eg. competion in shooting between platoons etc. in infantry companies) so nothing unusual, practice at speeding up turn rounds would have been common. Interestingly Tuck refers to shortage of bowsers on squadrons in early 1940, probably because a lot had gone to France with the air support of the BEF. This improved during the year.
We should also remember that on landing the fighters would go to their Flight dispersal to be turned round, they would not all return at once as after an air fight they would come down when they had to. This meant the Flight personnel would go to start on each aircraft in turn as they landed, hence the term 'swarming' in the first extract.

Mike
 
The Hurricanes big advantage was battle damage that required tinwork on a Spitfire was dope and a cloth patch on a Hurricane.

The Spitfire was a magnificent aerodynamic achievement, but not a thought had been given to manufacture and serviceability.
 
The Hurricanes big advantage was battle damage that required tinwork on a Spitfire was dope and a cloth patch on a Hurricane.

The Spitfire was a magnificent aerodynamic achievement, but not a thought had been given to manufacture and serviceability.

You're very eager to make definitive statements. Please explain how the Spitfire was worse than any other all-metal monocoque fighter of 1939 in terms of battle damage repair?
 
You're very eager to make definitive statements. Please explain how the Spitfire was worse than any other all-metal monocoque fighter of 1939 in terms of battle damage repair?
Reading is fundamental - I was comparing it to the Hurricane.
 
Reading is fundamental - I was comparing it to the Hurricane.

But you followed that up with "not a thought had been given to manufacture and serviceability" which is irrelevant in the context of battle damage repair (which is part of serviceability) for the reason I noted...the Spitfire was no harder to repair than any other metal monocoque fighter.

Yes, the Hurricane was easier to repair but it was also a development dead-end as a high-performance fighter. Britain desperately needed the quantitative benefit that Hurricanes provided in the summer of 1940 but they equally needed the qualitative benefit of Spitfires which represented the future evolution of fighter aircraft.
 
I am amazed at how much easier the Hurricane was to repair when only the rear fuselage and tail surfaces were fabric covered.
The cockpit forward and the entire wing was metal. The fabric was what percentage of the planes surface?

Maybe the fabric covering acted like a bullet magnet and diverted bullets away from the metal parts?

6895657043_1d12296f59_z.jpg


Ok, lets slap a little fabric and dope on that baby and get her back in the air by tomorrow.

On the Hurricane it may have been easier to unbolt a damaged tail and bolt on a new one compared to a trying to change a tail on a Spitfire (whole fuselage is a write off?)
But too often it seems like either minor damage ( a few bullet holes) is enough to write off a Spitfire while a Hurricane only needs a bit of fabric (Jamie, lend me your shirt and I have her patched up in no time) and dope to recover from major damage.

It was possible to set fire to the fabric, burning metal skin was a lot rarer (it did happen), Large pieces of fabric did get torn off. metal pealed and some times tore of but it was rarer.
 
In Vietnam the US Army painted white stripes around the helicopter tails to encourage the enemy to aim there. They tended to get hit in the tail and by encouraging them to shoot at it they figured they would miss entirely.

Perhaps the answer is that, given that the pilot, fuel tank, and engine are all in a row in the front, non-fabric portion of the fuselage, hits up there tended to produce nonsurvivable results., with either immediate pilot fatalities, fires that did not leave anything that could be fixed, the pilot parachuting out, or at least the inability of the aircraft to reach an airfield.

There is an old story that RAF bomber crews on night missions were interviewed about the nature of night fighter attacks, and said the majority came from above and behind. Then an officer pointed out that was a survey limited to crews who were attacked by night fighters and made it back, so do not use that data to warn aircrew. Of course we know now that below and behind was the best attack tactic. By the same token, hits in the more easily repaired fabric areas of the Hurricane were more likely to result in the ability to get down safely.

I recall reading of a North African RAF recon Hurricane pilot who commandeered a brand new Hurricane from a newly arrived pilot to go scout the extent of a German breakthrough at low altitude. When he got back the pilot who had "owned" the airplane was literally in tears. The once-shiny new Hurricane was literally riddled aft of the cockpit, "How am I going to explain this?" he wailed. Similarly, an F-51 pilot in Korea said he thought the P-40 was a better ground attack airplane than the Mustang because there was no radiator in the rear to get hit and most bullet hits occurred in the rear fuselage, not the nose.

One item I recently read was that an RAF pilot said one thing he really liked about the Hurricane was that it had dual controls. The elevators operate separately, so even if one got shot out you would have the other one. I'll admit that idea never occurred to me.
 
On the Hurricane it may have been easier to unbolt a damaged tail and bolt on a new one compared to a trying to change a tail on a Spitfire (whole fuselage is a write off?)
But too often it seems like either minor damage ( a few bullet holes) is enough to write off a Spitfire while a Hurricane only needs a bit of fabric (Jamie, lend me your shirt and I have her patched up in no time) and dope to recover from major damage.
Hi
The Spitfire was built in sections and joined together (as with most aircraft designed for wartime production), the 'tail' was a separate unit to the main fuselage and could be replaced if the damage was aft of the construction joint, if the damage was on the joint then that is more work. Below is an image of Supermarine's Itchen works during 1939 where fuselages were put together, note the fuselages with and without the tail unit fitted:
WW2turnround017.jpg

If the Hurricane was hit and only the fabric or wood covering were hit then it was easier to repair as these were not 'strength' structures for the aircraft. If the steel tubing was hit then that was a much bigger job as that carried the main structural strength. If the metal wings of the Hurricane were damaged then it would have been a very similar repair job to the Spitfire.

Wartime production meant that aircraft were split up into sub-assemblies to be manufactured in a dispersed system (the British had to allow for production to continue even if factories were bombed, not something US manufacturers had to worry about), it was used for even the largest aircraft including the Lancaster, which could be split into Queen Mary trailer loads. Example below from p.451 of Aeronautical Engineering' edited by R. A. Beaumont, published during WW2, showing the sub-assemblies of the Beaufighter:
WW2turnround018.jpg


Mike
 
Stephen Bungay in his book The Most Dangerous Enemy has a break down of RAF losses 10 July to 11 August 1940, of the 115 combat losses 87 were to Bf109, 6 to Bf110, 13 to Luftwaffe bombers, 4 to collision, 1 to flak, 1 to friendly fire and 3 to unknown causes. Of the 106 damaged RAF fighters 52 were due to Bf109s, 38 by bomber gunners.

In effect 13% of the fighters hit by bomber gunners were shot down, compared with 62% of the fighters hit by BF109s. It is even more stark in pilot casualties, half the pilots in the fighters hit by Bf109s were killed, compared with 10% of the fighters hit by bomber gunners.

The BF109s hit 63 Hurricanes, 63 Spitfires, 6 Defiants and 7 Blenheims, shooting down 45 of the Hurricanes, 31 of the Spitfires and 11 of the Defiants and Blenheims. The bomber gunners hit 25 Hurricanes and 25 Spitfires, shooting down 11 Hurricanes and 2 Spitfires. In all 51 Hurricane and 25 Spitfire pilots were killed. A number thanks to inadequate air sea rescue.

The book attributes the difference in survival rate to the vulnerability of the Hurricane wing fuel tanks and the Bf109 cannon shells. Apparently the shells tended to explode on contact with the Spitfire stressed skin but would penetrate the fabric covered Hurricane fuselage before exploding.
 
Hi
The Spitfire was built in sections and joined together (as with most aircraft designed for wartime production), the 'tail' was a separate unit to the main fuselage and could be replaced if the damage was aft of the construction joint, if the damage was on the joint then that is more work. Below is an image of Supermarine's Itchen works during 1939 where fuselages were put together, note the fuselages with and without the tail unit fitted:
View attachment 681321
If the Hurricane was hit and only the fabric or wood covering were hit then it was easier to repair as these were not 'strength' structures for the aircraft. If the steel tubing was hit then that was a much bigger job as that carried the main structural strength. If the metal wings of the Hurricane were damaged then it would have been a very similar repair job to the Spitfire.

Wartime production meant that aircraft were split up into sub-assemblies to be manufactured in a dispersed system (the British had to allow for production to continue even if factories were bombed, not something US manufacturers had to worry about), it was used for even the largest aircraft including the Lancaster, which could be split into Queen Mary trailer loads. Example below from p.451 of Aeronautical Engineering' edited by R. A. Beaumont, published during WW2, showing the sub-assemblies of the Beaufighter:
View attachment 681326

Mike
Photo of Spitfire VIII assembly at 145MU Casablanca late 1943 clearly shows the split of fuselage & tail.
 
08ff2706481a5b4823b9c2aaf1e61f3f.jpg

depending on the extent of the damage, a few bullet holes in the fabric or skin or extensive the work can take on a lot of complicity on both aircraft.

Getting a damaged steel tube out of the Hurricane might take a few hours to take the skin off, get the wooden bits out of the way, change the steel tube (bolts) and then replace the formers and start applying the fabric.

Even a grazing hit by a few machine gun bullets might call for the replacement of several of the wood formers and or fairing strips.

Not claiming the Spitfire was bullet proof, just that the claims of ease of repair might be pushing things once we get past the hand full of bullet holes in the skin stories.
You can fly the Hurricane with the bulges in the skin from broken wooden formers since the strength is in the steel tubes. But would you want to considering the loss in performance (extra drag) or chances the fabric would rip with more flutter of the fabric.
 
The book attributes the difference in survival rate to the vulnerability of the Hurricane wing fuel tanks and the Bf109 cannon shells. Apparently the shells tended to explode on contact with the Spitfire stressed skin but would penetrate the fabric covered Hurricane fuselage before exploding.

The stressed skin was better vs. machine gun bullets as well -- deflecting a proportion at shallow angles.

Firing trials vs. Hurricane and Spitfire fuselage
Direct astern, 7.92mm AP

Spitfire
49% of bullets were deflected
15% of bullets (or bullet fragments) reached the armour
7% of bullets (or bullet fragments) penetrated

Hurricane
37% of bullets were deflected
61% of the bullets (or bullet fragments) reached the armour
19% of bullets (or bullet fragments) penetrated

The Spitfire's skin was noted as the reason for the higher percentage of deflections.
 
From what I have read, I believe the ease of repair of the Hurricane was referring to whether the damage could be repaired locally or if the repairs had to be done at a rear area facility. The break-down of the airframe for shipment and the transit time added considerably to the turn-around time.
 
I recall reading where a Spitfire was damaged during the BoB where the fuselage was attached to the wing and the local unit rigged up a piece of armor plate bolted in as a patch. And every night they took that hunk of armor plate off and made sure it was still solid.
 

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