The Spitfire, My Journey

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Readie, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    You may have gathered that I love Spitfires and in this thread I shall attempt to explain why. Its a personal journey, peppered with facts and bias.:D

    The avian Falcon merlin is a raptor with thin pointed wings that allow it too dive at very great speed. It was the perfect starting point for RJM's Spitfire ( he dismissed the name as 'bloody silly' and wanted to call it the 'Shrew' a small voracious predator)
    In Elizabethan England,the name given to to shrill and shrewish woman was ' spitfire'
    I was fascinated with flight and the idea of GM Hopkin's falcon in Windhover as a Spitfire scything through the English sky as a saviour with the Merlin's voice of a thundering deep pulsing roar combined with the supercharger whistle.
    Even Shakespeare had a line in King Lear 'Spit fire, spout,rain'
    The poem 'High Flight' by the American Spitfire pilot Magee is a powerful image too 'The high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of god'
    These images spellbound me as a boy and still do.

    More to follow tomorrow
    Cheers
    John
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Why isn't the British version of the modern day Eurofighter named "Spitfire II"?
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    They made the Spitfire II in about 1940, technically you'd have to call it the Spitfire XXV or 25.
    Too cumbersome I guess.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Nope. The Eurofighter is named after another British fighter, which found its forte in ground attack - the Typhoon, hence Typhoon II. Bl**dy silly idea if you ask me!
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Any fighter can perform ground attack to some extent. However the Eurofighter is primarily for air superiority. Just like the Spitfire. Hence IMO it should be called Spitfire II.

    Not to be confused with the WWII era Spitfire Mk II. 8)
     
  6. Mustang nut

    Mustang nut Banned

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    The Eurofighter couldnt undertake ground attack in Libya because the RAF hadnt trained the pilots:shock:
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Something wrong there. Pinching pennies on pilot training will impair the effectiveness of an otherwise excellent aircraft.
     
  8. Mustang nut

    Mustang nut Banned

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    Correct! except it isnt pennies that are pinched its millions the operating cost being thrown around at the time was £120,000 per hour for the Eurofighter. Theyve bought into a system they cant afford to use.
     
  9. Trilisser

    Trilisser Member

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    I've been saying for a long time that jets have been an expensive mistake as the acquisition and operating costs have skyrocketed right after jets came into play.
     
  10. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    JETS....Beelzebub.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Because for the British there will only ever be one Spitfire and it isn't the Eurofighter which isn't even a British built airplane as the name implies.The last British built combat aircraft was the Buccaneer and that was a long time ago.
    I think non Brits struggle to understand the emotional attachment of the British to their Spitfire. I regularly see grown men with "dust" in their eyes and a less visible lump in their throats,when one taxis past at an airshow. It is remembered as the saviour of the nation in its darkest hour. The nearest equivalent might be Nelson's "wooden walls",that's why HMS Victory is still there for all to see.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I do understand that Spitfire is an icon at UK; Hurricane was the savior though, if we talk airplanes :)
     
  13. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    The last time a Spitfire flew in military service was in England in 1963 when a Mk
    X1X, the fastest of all Spitfires, was pitted against front line RAF Lightning fighter jet fighter capable of Mach 2. It seemed possible at the time that the Lightning may be sent to Indonesia, where it would fly against P51D's. The RAF wanted its fighter pilots to have experience and to know what it would like if they came up against one of these still potent WW2 veterans.The Spitfire was the nearest thing the RAF had to a Mustang. The Spitfire acquitted itself quite well by all accounts.

    Was the Spitfire a work of art? I think so,but the answer to this perennially fascinating question is inseparable from the neverending debate as to which was the better fighter. The Spitfire or the ME109.

    The ME109 was simpler to service, easier and cheaper to build and more truly an industrial machine. Not so elegant or finely crafted as the Spitfire but, as an instrument of death it was perhaps better suited to the machine age war in which command of the air was essential to victory. Some 31000 ME109's were built and some 22000 Spitfires. Both were highly successful but, in the end the RAF were on the winning side so the arguments are academic.

    The Spitfire and Messerschmitt were products of two very different industrial cultures. The ME109 was practical, economical and workmanlike. The Spitfire emerged from a culture famous for producing lithe, good looking and sensual machinery.The Spitfire was a thing of complex compound curves and had a graceful fuselage that required a great deal of hand finishing. So much so that the Air Ministry nearly cancelled its original order as the Spitfire cost so much to build.

    The Spitfire flew beautifully with its elliptical wings being slim and effective. Its profile made it instantly recognisable.
    The last Spitfire to be produced the F24 was a fine looking machine, clearly tough but, perhaps less artistic and pure than the BoB Mk1.

    I made umpteen Airfix model aircraft as a boy and read the likes of 'Lion' and 'Eagle' where the British always won with a stiff upper lip and the script was full of 'Achtung Spitfeur', 'Cop a load of this Fritz', 'gosh', 'crikey' etc. Not to mention Biggles the eternal aerial warrior and the centre piece, our wonderful Spitfire.
    You can't buy these non PC albums and comics now, a pity as it does capture a moment or two in a lot of British boys (of a certain age) lives.

    More tomorrow

    Cheers
    John
     
  14. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Couldn't say it better myself Steve.
    Nothing wrong with 'a bit of dust' in the eyes when a Spitfire does a flyby and a victory roll...
    Cheers
    John
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #15 stona, Jun 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
    That is of course true,particularly in terms of numbers. You are inadvertantly illustrating my point very well! It is an emotional,not a rational attachment that the British have to the Spitfire.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    The Buccaner was the last British built combat jet? Wasn't the Harrier built after that?
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    So I'm told. Jets are really not my thing so I can only repeat what I've been told I'm afraid.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  18. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Good lad!
    I'm not sure about Bradford being in central England though. I thought that was pretty much where I am,here,in Birmingham.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  20. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    It makes me smile too.

    What makes me frown is that in 1945 one of my great-uncles, newly rich from mass sales of commercially manufactured evaporative coolers made in Arizona did not have the foresight to take advantages of these postwar prices:

    BT-13 $450, P-38 $1,250, AT-6 $1,500, A-26 $2,000, P-51 $3,500, B-25 $8,250, B-17 $13,750, B-24 $13,750, B-32 $32,500

    He could have purchased a Lightning and a Mustang for the price of a top of the line 1946 Cadillac Imperial 9 passenger sedan or two Lightnings for the price of a bottom of the line Cadillac. It is my understanding that at one point prices were incredibly low just to clear out storage space. Prices like a few hundred dollars for all types of aircraft including fuel to fly them away from Kingman, Arizona. I think this is how Frank Tallman and Paul Mantz could afford to assemble much of their collections for movie use. If I recall correctly the fuel was valued higher than the aircraft. Someone please invent me a time machine!
     
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