I had the pleasure of watching the movie "303 Squadron" as it premiered at the Ottawa (Canada) EUFF CFI Film festival Nov 25, 2019. The story of the Polish fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain (they flew Hurricanes) is well known and now better known. This film is a must see on the big screen.
Firstly, the film was introduced by the Polish Ambassador to Canada himself (his Excellency Andrzej Kurnicki), who payed tribute to the Polish airmen, their role in the Battle of Britain, and the connection to Canada this particular squadron had. It's Canadian Flight Commander "Johhny" Kent, went on to become an ace himself and survive the war as Wing Commander. Over 8,000 Polish pilots and ground crew escaped from France to England to assist the allies, but the 303 Polish Squadron is particularly famous for it's role in the Battle of Britain with it's high score (128) and skill in taking out the enemy at Britain's most crucial air battles in August and September of 1940. According to an IWM article, "A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought ... read more ...
Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires - What are they and who flew them!?
editors note: This article was submitted by John Bendixsen, son of PRU pilot Flt. Lt. John Bendixsen, who kept detailed notes and an enormous catalog of aerial photos from his WWII missions, many of which have been passed along to me (sub pens, V1 rocket sites, dice missions, bridges, ships). PRU pilots often flew just off the deck on a dice mission, and in John's father's case, flew 100 feet off the deck in Germany to get a close up of a V1 rocket site (we're waiting for that elusive pic!). For any enthusiasts of PRU Spitfires, please read on -- and should you have a PRU Spitfire pilot to add, please click add pilot and we'll build the list. There are a few others on the site, see the squadron list below and I'll point out a few others on the site in time (check back). Of course, the entry for John S Blyth (US) on this site has a link to a now rather famous SUNDANCE film festival documentary with original footage showing Blyth on a dangerous crash land on returning from a PRU mission. ... read more ...
Editor's NOTE: Kevin Charles, Senior Editor for allspitfirepilots.org, was on hand to re-live some of his boyhood memories and re-connect with the Spitfire, the aircraft his father flew in WWII. He provided this summary of the IWM Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow, one of the premiere aviation events of the year.
"As a boy of 10 I vividly remember an armada of planes, Spitfires, Hurricanes, Heinkels and Messerschmidts flying low over the school.
The sound was awesome.
No this wasn't the war (I'm not that old!), it was 1968 and the aircraft were on their way to film aerial sequences for the film The Battle of Britain.
Fast forward to the present day and your newly promoted Senior Editor for the allspitfirepilots.org website is at The Imperial War Museum at Duxford for the annual Battle of Britain airshow which was also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the the making of the film of the same name.
Duxford is a fantastic museum and working airfield, with a huge collection of airplanes and military vehicles and more than enough exhibitions to keep you occupied for at least a day. If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. read more ...
Our Senior Editor Kevin Charles is wandering around the IWM Duxford Battle of Britain show. After meeting up with Kevin at Capel Le Ferne on the cliffs of Dover for the September 15th Battle of Britain weekend, Kevin is now in Duxford for the big air show. If you go, try to find Kevin (email us with contact us we'll put you in touch, just buy him a tea and he's got a T-shirt for you from allspitfirepilots.org).
See more than a dozen Spitfires take to the sky at once, participate in a recreation of the now 50 year old Battle of Britain movie, walk the airfields, enjoy the show.
Walk through the same hangars and buildings as those who served at RAF Duxford. See aircraft take to the skies from the airfield that Spitfires first flew. And get up close to over a century of aviation with hundreds of aircraft and objects on display.
This is a very special year to be attending, and, stay tuned for Kevin's report but better yet, try to find Kevin and say hello. He may describe his particular interest, the North African and Italian air campaigns, where his father served and became a ... read more ...
About half way around the world now, the Goodwood origin Silver Spitfire (and team) are flying around the world, likely stopping near a town near you (or maybe already has)! Go to silverspitfire.com to learn more about this historic world first.
The aircraft, built in 1943, will cover more than 43,000 kilometres over several months, visiting some 30 countries on its way. The circumnavigation honours the quintessential design and unparalleled engineering of the iconic British plane. The expedition is the brainchild of Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones, founders of the Boultbee Flight Academy, based on the Goodwood Estate in the south of England. IWC is establishing a long-term partnership with the first official Spitfire flying academy.
The remainder is the original press release from 2018 describing the project in anticipation of the current tour.
"Iconic British Spitfire Aircraft to be Restored for a New Audience in a World First Circumnavigation of the Globe Today marks the official launch of an extraordinary project which will come to fruition in Summer 2019 when a newly restored original Mk IX Spitfire aircraft will begin a spectacular flight around the world. Flown by British pilots Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, the iconic ... read more ...
An evening in Folkstone gave way to morning and a short bus ride up the cliffs of Dover, in anticipation of the Battle of Britain Day memorial service, complete with Spitfire flyovers, wreath laying by service veterans, and, a prayer service. All of this in front of the stone sculpture of a pilot (no rank, on purpose) at rest on the ground staring up into the sky, perhaps as a pause or in thought, maybe waiting for the next scramble. But either way, he's stood down -- and represents all those who fought in the Battle of Britain -- the fight over, even as today we are taken back to that desperate and deciding day on September 15 1940, when wave after wave of enemy bombers and fighters were met by the British Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Spitfires after the top cover 109s, the Hurricanes largely directed at the bombers. This penultimate day represents the whole of the Battle of Britain now as we reflect on this historic summer of 1940.
Close to 100 Canadians served in the battle, which included Spitfires, Hurricanes, Defiants, and other aircraft. I met Kevin Charles (now senior editor of this site and son of ... read more ...
Day 3 and 4 are "get it done days" i.e. cycle approximately 30 miles each day to make up the 60 miles left to go on the South Downs Way. This meant early starts, first from Cocking (a very quaint village with some impressive sculpture art visible behind the church, this famous art-work is known to have been sold to the Queen). Out of Cocking it's straight up, up, and up. On top, we reconnected with some hikers we spoke with at breakfast at the Moonlight B&B. Followed by more down and more up, it's rather relentless, but you start to relish each section; the up grind, the top if you can get some flats and flowey downhills with sweeping views.
We crossed a major highway and went up through a thick forest, finally some great views from up high (really high this time) and once again, hikers who started at this highway juncture below caught us up. Did I mention they are speedy over here. But then, some major downhill sections and we put a lot of miles behind us very quickly. A large lunch break was necessary in the town of Amberly, at the River Cafe. The sun ... read more ...
Day 2 turned out not to be as far as feared, and, came in at about 20 miles. Just the same, it was 20 miles of up and down the South Downs. Because the goal that evening was the open invite pub night in Chichester (at what is now Wetherspoons, but in WWII was frequented by the airmen, as was the Unicorn which is no longer a pub) we made our stop in Cocking at the Moonlight B&B. Getting in early at 1 p.m. from our start at East Meon (Sustainability Centre) doesn't mean it was easy. The South Downs up top are heaven, and they felt close to it in the mist shrouded forests and open pastures, we saw few people up there, just a few hikers (that seemed to pass us time to time -- they hike fast in England!).
The uphills were long and the long sweeping downhills, often on flowy single-track at high speed are a mountain bikers dream. We rented our bikes from Chalkpit Trails, our Specializeed rock hopper bikes from owners Abigail and Dave were fantastic, perfect for traversing the South Downs 100 mile epic. Technical enough in parts, both my buddy Mark and ... read more ...
The South Downs Way adventure has started. Today was the first day of cyclng England''s South Downs Way, where we completed roughly 20 miles of off-road path from Winchester to East Meon vicinity. The rolling hills and country vistas are spectacular, and the weather co-operated this Sept 10th, 2019. The cycling trip is in support of this site to let more people know about it, and, stop in on a few related sites. One of which is the Tangmere tower followed by an open invite to the Wetherspoon (Dolphin and Anchor) pub in Chichester, where I hope to meet anyone interested in adding information to the site, or just popping by to say hi. As mentioned, Ron Powell, author of "Wings Over summer" will join us at 7 p.m.
Today's cycle was tough, there is no question you have to be ready for the hills, but we're taking our time, doing the South Downs Way in 4 days. Today's highlights included fixing *successfully* a broken chain, missing the bus in Salisbury but getting an even cheaper taxi ride (than the train) directly to Winchester (start of the ride), getting lost on some tangent of a bridle-way / foot path (there ... read more ...
Come visit and socialize with other Spitfire enthusiasts, bring a pilot story or a photo -- or just have a pint. Founder of this site, Kurt Turchan will be visiting the area (from Canada) and will be joined by Ron Powell (author of Wings Over Summer) who will give a talk on Battle of Britain Pilots. Ron is a retired RAF pilot officer who added one of the first pilots to the site P/O Laurie Whitbread.
Wetherspoons pub (The Dolphin and Anchor, now 9 West Street, Chichester, was frequented by pilots and aircrew at the time ) is in the vicinity of the Tangmere airfield, which today, also has the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum nearby.
Kurt has 3 stops on his visit, beginning with a cycle tour of the 100 miles of the South Downs Way, starting on Sept 10, 2019.
Drop by any of these events to say hello.
1) Wetherspoon Pub / (The new Dolphin and Anchor, 9 West Street), Chichester Sept 11, 7 p.m.
2) Capel Le Ferne, Sept 15 (Battle of Britain Day), Folkstone -- public ceremony & flypast
3) The Old Jail (pub), Biggin Hill vicinity, Sept 16, 7 p.m.