500 Canadian Spitfire Pilots (KIA / FA) Added to Site!
Thanks to Mr. Halliday (Distinguished Canadian Military Historian) who provided a database of all Canadian (RCAF / RAF) pilots who died in WWII. Most were KIA (operational), but a large number died in flying accidents (FA). We have thus added 500 Spitfire pilots to the database. The database as provided included all aircraft types (I wrote some code to filter for Spitfire), and, each row in the database included a key piece of information we were after -- the aircraft serial number flown, along with name, rank, squadron, date, burial location, home province (there are some as USA -- Americans who joined via Canada), marital status, and, how this pilot was killed (e.g. KIA, FA).
(Photo: Photo by Department of National Defence, PMR 76-212).
Because of this import, others can come along and fill in even more information using our wiki, i.e. images, comments / questions (users can "follow" a pilot twitter style and get informed when a question is asked / answered), additional text, and, more. We'd love to know more about each pilot, their pre-war activity, their home-town, and more of their training and operational histories. These pilots and aircrew had their young lives interrupted and became warriors. ... read more ...
Featured Pilot Every Month
On our home page, we have a "FEATURED" link which currently features the pilot Laurie Whitbread added to this site by author and RAF veteran Ron Powell (and the book review is coming soon - it's begun). Wings Over Summer contrasts the recent book we reviewed ("Spitfire vs 109 : Decisive Duel") in that it's a more personal story following a pair of Spitfire RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. I've only just started, but I am very much enjoying it. Wings Over Summer is a novel focusing on two characters, inspired by an RAF pilot whose grave Ron passed all the time as a child. Pilot Laurie Whitbread was graciously added to this site by Ron.
Our next featured pilot (image top left - will be featured on the home page in December) is reconnaissance pilot John Bendixson. John's son added his father's listing to this site, with images, links, squadron information, and, even Spitfire serial numbers flown. John's father was a photo reconnaissance pilot, and, his son just added an article / documentary based on ops records of a low level flight over Brest France. Eventually, we'll do a feature article on recon pilots, ... read more ...
Book Review: "The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109"
From time to time, we'll feature a book that includes the Spitfire or Spitfire pilots. Any user is welcome to add comments to this post suggesting another good book, or, submit a review, or just wait until we read another and post the review here. I am currently reading "The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109:" by David Isby. First, the overview from Amazon itself, then, the review below.
"London, 15 September 1940. In and out of the clouds above the British capital, one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War was taking place. The Luftwaffe's massive air assault aimed to force Britain to sue for peace or, by seizing air superiority, make possible the cross-Channel invasion Hitler's generals were planning. Churchill himself watched the climactic battle unfold from the RAF operations room in Uxbridge. He asked what reserves the British had in the battle over London: 'There are none', came the reply. Every available squadron was in the air.
The air battle over Britain shaped the course of the entire war. But the fight that day was itself shaped by the duel between the two most advanced types of warring fighter planes: the British Supermarine Spitfire and ... read more ...
Become a Contributor, Editor, or Board Member
We are looking for contributors, editors, and, board members to help guide the site, and, help shape the feature-set, research objectives, member engagement features, and content.
Anyone can apply, we're hoping to build a group from around the world, from the various countries that supplied pilots to fly the Spitfire (and other RAF types) during WWII.
Our goal is to support memorial projects, by honouring each and every Spitfire pilot. We're not just after the aces, we'd like to document all pilots, where they came from, their story, including their post-war story, if they survived. That will require content sources from museums, archives, family members and others - and that's where we need help. It will also require a fair bit of research.
For example (image top left), we just loaded Flt Lt H G Harwood (RCAF) to the site, and linked to his Spitfire via a serial number found in segment of book on 126 Wing on Amazon, based on the marking VZ-S in the image. From there, his page now links to the Spitfire page for the aircraft he flew on that day, which in turn gives the full history of the aircraft. This is one ... read more ...
390 Pilots added thanks to RAF Museum Archive Records
The RAF Museum maintains an archives with pilot log books. The story of how the RAF came to maintain the log books itself is fascinating, and in their words;
"When aircrew were reported missing their effects were collected together and held in a central depository. Whilst in most cases their property was later handed over to next of kin, unclaimed logbooks were retained by the Air Ministry. By 1959, these unclaimed logbooks covered some 6500 feet of shelving. It was decided that representative samples would be preserved in the Public Record Office and the remainder destroyed at the end of 1960. This decision was announced in the Press and a number of people claimed logbooks. But the vast majority were destroyed, ironically just a few years before the RAF Museum was founded."
Wow! At least some were preserved, but what did we lose? We (allspitfirepilots.org) were given an XML file containing summary information on these remaining log books. The file contains a record for each pilot log book in the collection, so there were some duplicates in the 500 records. We were able to successfully parse (using code) all of these records, and add 390 pilots to the site, with ... read more ...
Comments can now be added to Blog Entries - Use this Entry to post Bugs
We're still in BETA mode, and, a recent change allows comments to be posted on blog entries.
Eventually, we'll add the code to allow a user to "follow" a blog, or, other article types (or forums) we add in the future. At present, we're testing some new features, and, of course -- testing the software as users add pilots. This site is built with Laravel 5.0, a new platform that brings PHP into the Ruby on Rails style of construction. The relationships e.g. comments to blogs, aircraft serials to pilots, and, users to pilots are all custom. The site has a lot of potential to support both researcher and enthusiast goals.
Comments are welcome from users trying out the site, and, while we're at it, post any bug reports or feature requests here as well. Should we add plain old forums, or, is our "forum per pilot" the way for users to engage each other with the ability to follow a pilot. For questions (a form of comment) on a pilot or aircraft page, should we allow voting so the best answer floats to the top?
What do you want to see most, and what else can the site provide ... read more ...
75th Anniversary of Victory of Battle of Britain
This Tuesday, September 15th, marks the 75th Anniversary of the victory of the Battle of Britain. In the U.K. a large Battle of Britain day flypast (40+ aircraft) will originate from various locations and sweep across English towns, in one of the largest gathering of airworthy Spitfires and Hurricanes. See the routes here. In Ottawa, Canada, on the 20th, a ceremoney and flypast including aircraft from Vintage Wings will partake in a commemoration at Parliament Hill.
The victory, described by Sir Winston Churchill as Britain’s “finest hour” halted a planned invasion of Great Britain and gave hope to a demoralized Britain and northern Europe. It was the first battle to be won by air power.
In tribute to "the Few", we are issuing our BETA launch press release, and, have embedded a video giving a 20 year retrospective, on some of the pilots 20 years later. Now 75 years later, we look back again at the pilots from the U.K, and countries like Poland, Canada, Slovakia, Czech Republic, New Zealand, the USA, Australia, and even Jamaica, as they celebrate their Battle of Britain pilots and aircrew. There are a lot of online resources on the Battle of Britain, ... read more ...
Honour Roll - Add 5 Pilots, Get Your Group Featured!
Does your organization, blog, or museum curate pilot information or support memorial work. Get some recognition on every page (over Spitfire Blueprint - lower section) of our site, including the home page, with your logo / link to your profile page on this site. Your profile page has a bio section, image, facebook / twitter links, and it also lists the pilots you've added or have selected to follow.
Just add 5 pilots, to our database by clicking "Add Pilot" in the top navigation. Fill in the basic details, then, once the page is up, add other information, or let others come along and do that. A fully decked out page includes a pilot biograpgy, aircraft serials (aircraft flown), squadrons served with time-frame, comments / questions from other users (there is a forum per pilot), URLs / links to other sites and sources, and video. After you add the basic pilot information, go back to the page and add a link back to your group, blog, or book. All pilot pages will show a link to the contributor (you) as well, so you can also describe and link to your group or project there.
note: all submissions are reviewed, and ... read more ...
Battle of Britain - Hurricanes & Spitfires
As we approach the major celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, it's only fitting we expand the site (it hasn't even launched yet) to include Hurricane pilots. Hurricane pilots were Spitfire pilots and vice versa, and the same goes for Typhoon, Mustang, and more. Given that more than half of the fighter aircraft in the Battle of Britain were Hurricanes, and being the 75th anniversary year, it makes sense to expand the site's coverage. Does that mean we need a new domain name, maybe? But not for now - it's kind of busy around here. What we don't have however, are Hurricane aircraft serial numbers to link to pilot pages as we have with the Spitfire. As a result (for now), users will have to make do with marker numbers, until we can get ahold of a Hurricane database for import (anyone happen have one lying around).
The Hurricane outnumbered the Spitfire, the RAF simply had more of them, but the Spitfire was the faster more capable fighter with better armour. As the battle progressed, the Spitfire generally engaged the Me-109s and the Hurricanes blasted the bombers. Once you get past these generalities, it would be ... read more ...
New Site is Beta
Greetings, this site is ALPHA / BETA, I am looking for Spitfire enthusiasts to help refine the feature-set and user functionality, with a launch in fall 2015 after some weeks of revision and initial testing. I am also looking for assistance from those who may be in a position to load pilot data, both at an initial level (e.g. pilot basics), and, at a much deeper level, matching pilots with the spitfire aircraft they flew. Thanks to permission from Andrew Pentland, the entire list of spitfires are in our database by serial number. For both pilot and spitfire, it's possible to add links (to other resources on the web), add images, add comments, and, create the linkage between pilot and aircraft.
It's an ambitious project, initially you won't find a lot of pilot information, as it's up to users to add pilots (but I'll add a few hundred shortly!). When a user does this, it's also reflected in their profile, for those users that choose to create and maintain a profile. Over time, you'll see the database grow, and we hope that users from all nations add data; Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, the US, and all ... read more ...