Yesterday: A Spit fires the imagination/official war doc thread

Been watching Ewan and Colin McGregor's tribute to the boys of 40. Found it fairly mundane...

Far more intersting and engauging (sorry for aeronautical pun) is Jeoffrey Wellum's 'First Light'. When produced correctly this type of docu-drama is more captivating and poignant than a famous actor weeping fake tears as he stands close to a BoB Spitfire. There's been more programmes about BoB and the starring aircraft than you can shake a stick at. So did we learn anything new? Nope.

However, gripe aside, is there anything in life that stokes the imagination more than a sight of a ancient fighter aircraft? Don't think there is: The copious air pageants I've seen of a 40 year period, the Spitfire, more than any plane, boat, or train rekindles the kid in you.

Let's hope the Mitchell family fully realise the impact RJs design has had on generations of ordinary people. Some things just remain timeless. Sacrosanct.
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
However, gripe aside, is there anything in life that stokes the imagination more than a sight of a ancient fighter aircraft? Don't think there is: The copious air pageants I've seen of a 40 year period, the Spitfire, more than any plane, boat, or train rekindles the kid in you.

I'm more of a Cold War kid and it's the Vulcan that does it for me out of all of them.

Spifires and Hurricanes were always (along with most propellor aircraft) the most boring part of Airshows for me. They were 'filler' between military jet aircraft.

I just don't have the memories. I was always waiting for the Red Arrows or some Phantoms, or similar, during any WW2 flypast.

I prefer Dr Strangelove to The Battle of Britain.
 

Paul.

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Maybe it is an age thing. I do love the Spitfire and Vulcan, don't know why but I always thought the Nimrod was handsom beast as well. For me though, it's the Harrier all the way. I was working at Warton and saw a Harrier land vertically so close I thought my ears would bleed, that was increadible. They were the planes on the news as I was growing up, much like if I think of super cars I think of the F40 and Countache, if I think of Bond it's Roger Moore!
 
Paul Hobbs said:
Maybe it is an age thing. I do love the Spitfire and Vulcan, don't know why but I always thought the Nimrod was handsom beast as well. For me though, it's the Harrier all the way. I was working at Warton and saw a Harrier land vertically so close I thought my ears would bleed, that was increadible. They were the planes on the news as I was growing up, much like if I think of super cars I think of the F40 and Countache, if I think of Bond it's Roger Moore!

Is it an age thing? I dunno really. One example was back in 2000 Mrs. P, my sister and I went to Biggin for the BoB air show September 15th time, where the bulk of the aircraft were examples of that era. Sure they had modern jets (Hawker Hunters, Migs, Harrier, Tornados etc, including modern attack helicopters), and the older generation were sheltering from the sun, while the kids played happily with their toy aircraft. However, when a formation of Hurricanes and Spits flew at low level Mrs. P said: "Look at this lot." It was pretty stunning that literally all ages - 4 to 94 - just stopped in their tracks and were riveted while the vets flew at low level. I've never seen anything like it before or since.

FWIW my favourite aircraft is the Sunderland Flying-boat. Like the Spit and Hurricane it just looked right.

On a lighter note: At Biggin on this occasion a Tornado did a low-level sweep down the runway, swings swept back, the ground shook so much the car alarms started screeching. There was a hundreds of people leggin it back to their cars en masse.
 

chebby

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The best free 'air show' we ever had was when sitting outside the Warren House Inn on Dartmoor. I think we saw most of the RAF hurtling down the valley below (and right over the pub at what seemed like touching distance) for the hour or so we were sat having lunch. (I wanted to stay there.)
 
Had a similar experience: My bro lives just down the road from Farnborough and often we'd *** down there on his motorbike and park up around the back. Failing that, if intoxicated, we'd sit in his back garden and watch the aircraft scrape the tree-tops.

The most amazing thing I saw at Biggin was a fly-past by a AVRO biplane and a Harrier side-by-side. Literally both pilots were waving at the crowds. Fabulous sight.
 

laserman16

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plastic penguin said:
On a lighter note: At Biggin on this occasion a Tornado did a low-level sweep down the runway, swings swept back, the ground shook so much the car alarms started screeching. There was a hundreds of people leggin it back to their cars en masse.

Saw a Tornado at RAF Cosford do the same trick then when he got to the end of the runway he put it into a vertical climb into a clear blue sky and was still climbing when he disappeared from sight but you could still hear him rumbling away. Awesome.

Whilist I am not old enough to remember the Spitfire in action, every time I see one there is just something very special about them, can't even put my finger on why but just does it for me.

Harriers probably fall into the same class, they are just so unique, years ago sat on the beach near Weymouth with the kids for a couple of hours watching Harriers do what I assume was a sumulated attack run over Portland and then land on HMS Invincible that was moored in the bay., then some more would take off and do the run again. Kids loved it, glad I'd got a couple of pairs of binoculars with me.
 
Supermarine were originally going to call the aircraft the 'Shrew'. Doesn't have the same ring does it?

Fairly amusing story behind the name: It was Robert McClean, head of Vickers, who came up with the name of 'Spitfire'. He named it after his daughter, who could be very amiable but often had a very hot-headed side.

Upon hearing the new name of the aircraft, RJ Mitchell curtly responded: "Typical... that's just the silly bloody name he would give it!"
 
A

Anonymous

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:grin: excellent Chebby.

Here's a clip from Eastbourne last year where a Belgian F-16 & Spitfire MKIX do a Flypast together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50La_Az_t6E

Spitfires and hurricanes both evoke so much emotion and pride in so many people obviously because of WWII and the Battle of Britain and the huge debt we owe to their pilots (but the sound and the distinctive look of the Spitfire means it's my favourite of the two).

I'm way too young to have seen them in action over SE England where I live at the time and if I had then I'm sure they would stir much more in me and be my favourite aircraft of all time.

What gets the blood flowing the most at air shows for me is the ground thump and sonic boom of afterburners on fast jets such as the Vulcan (jaw dropping), F16, Tornado and best of all the Eurofighter Typhoon which made such a roar and did things I had never seen a jet do before when I saw it at Biggin Hill.

That crackle of afterburners (at around 50 seconds into the video) puts the hugest grin on my face every time.

I also miss Concorde.
 
SteveD said:
:grin: excellent Chebby.

Here's a clip from Eastbourne last year where a Belgian F-16 & Spitfire MKIX do a Flypast together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50La_Az_t6E

Spitfires and hurricanes both evoke so much emotion and pride in so many people obviously because of WWII and the Battle of Britain and the huge debt we owe to their pilots (but the sound and the distinctive look of the Spitfire means it's my favourite of the two).

I'm way too young to have seen them in action over SE England where I live at the time and if I had then I'm sure they would stir much more in me and be my favourite aircraft of all time.

What gets the blood flowing the most at air shows for me is the ground thump and sonic boom of afterburners on fast jets such as the Vulcan (jaw dropping), F16, Tornado and best of all the Eurofighter Typhoon which made such a roar and did things I had never seen a jet do before when I saw it at Biggin Hill.

That crackle of afterburners (at around 50 seconds into the video) puts the hugest grin on my face every time.

I also miss Concorde.

We all miss the distinctive lines of Concorde

One of the most fascinating (and scary) things at Biggin was a Russian Sukhoi su-47 taking off and goin totally vertical and hovering in that vertical position and reversed slowly back down and suddenly shot along the runway (all this happened around 1,000 feet from the crowds. I think all subsequent displays were culled and deemed too dangerous.

BTW, I'm way too young to remember the BoB....:)
 
A

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plastic penguin said:
SteveD said:
:grin: excellent Chebby.

Here's a clip from Eastbourne last year where a Belgian F-16 & Spitfire MKIX do a Flypast together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50La_Az_t6E

Spitfires and hurricanes both evoke so much emotion and pride in so many people obviously because of WWII and the Battle of Britain and the huge debt we owe to their pilots (but the sound and the distinctive look of the Spitfire means it's my favourite of the two).

I'm way too young to have seen them in action over SE England where I live at the time and if I had then I'm sure they would stir much more in me and be my favourite aircraft of all time.

What gets the blood flowing the most at air shows for me is the ground thump and sonic boom of afterburners on fast jets such as the Vulcan (jaw dropping), F16, Tornado and best of all the Eurofighter Typhoon which made such a roar and did things I had never seen a jet do before when I saw it at Biggin Hill.

That crackle of afterburners (at around 50 seconds into the video) puts the hugest grin on my face every time.

I also miss Concorde.

We all miss the distinctive lines of Concorde

One of the most fascinating (and scary) things at Biggin was a Russian Sukhoi su-47 taking off and goin totally vertical and hovering in that vertical position and reversed slowly back down and suddenly shot along the runway (all this happened around 1,000 feet from the crowds. I think all subsequent displays were culled and deemed too dangerous.

BTW, I'm way too young to remember the BoB....:)

Ha! I wasn't implying you were old enough yourself either PP! Don't think there are too many people on this forum requiring high fidelity hearing aids.

This link might bring back some memories!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvi0S6dnalc

You've really reminded me how much I love air shows (for both old and new planes) - definitely going to Biggin Hill again this year now.
 
SteveD said:
plastic penguin said:
SteveD said:
:grin: excellent Chebby.

Here's a clip from Eastbourne last year where a Belgian F-16 & Spitfire MKIX do a Flypast together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50La_Az_t6E

Spitfires and hurricanes both evoke so much emotion and pride in so many people obviously because of WWII and the Battle of Britain and the huge debt we owe to their pilots (but the sound and the distinctive look of the Spitfire means it's my favourite of the two).

I'm way too young to have seen them in action over SE England where I live at the time and if I had then I'm sure they would stir much more in me and be my favourite aircraft of all time.

What gets the blood flowing the most at air shows for me is the ground thump and sonic boom of afterburners on fast jets such as the Vulcan (jaw dropping), F16, Tornado and best of all the Eurofighter Typhoon which made such a roar and did things I had never seen a jet do before when I saw it at Biggin Hill.

That crackle of afterburners (at around 50 seconds into the video) puts the hugest grin on my face every time.

I also miss Concorde.

We all miss the distinctive lines of Concorde

One of the most fascinating (and scary) things at Biggin was a Russian Sukhoi su-47 taking off and goin totally vertical and hovering in that vertical position and reversed slowly back down and suddenly shot along the runway (all this happened around 1,000 feet from the crowds. I think all subsequent displays were culled and deemed too dangerous.

BTW, I'm way too young to remember the BoB....:)

Ha! I wasn't implying you were old enough yourself either PP! Don't think there are too many people on this forum requiring high fidelity hearing aids.

This link might bring back some memories!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvi0S6dnalc

You've really reminded me how much I love air shows (for both old and new planes) - definitely going to Biggin Hill again this year now.

I know - just confirming I don't need a padded cell yet...;)

Regards to airshows, I haven't been to one for two years, so there's a need to make up for lost time. Biggin's on my radar and probably Duxford, home of 'Big Wing' (hiss, boo!)
 
plastic penguin said:
Supermarine were originally going to call the aircraft the 'Shrew'. Doesn't have the same ring does it?

Fairly amusing story behind the name: It was Robert McClean, head of Vickers, who came up with the name of 'Spitfire'. He named it after his daughter, who could be very amiable but often had a very hot-headed side.

Upon hearing the new name of the aircraft, RJ Mitchell curtly responded: "Typical... that's just the silly bloody name he would give it!"

Think the Ewan Brothers could've made the documentary more interesting by shoehorning quirky litlle facts such as the above.

Also they could've mentioned that Hermann Goering was known by his officers and aircrews as alt dicker or 'old fatso'.

And even try to explain, once and for all, why Dowding and keith Park, THE most important figures in winning the battle - along with Churchill - were removed from their positions. Heard various explanations but non really stand up in my view.

Still find their treatment disgusting. A book came out in 41 to commemorate the BoB and Dowding wasn't mentioned once. You can't airbrush a vastly influencial figure from that part of British history.

Biggest Churchill faux pas by some distance.

Edit - perhaps Chebby, a learned Churchill admirer, can throw some light on the subject.
 
SteveD said:
Just been having a look and it seems Biggin Hill no longer has a major air show! Missed hearing about that.

http://www.airshows.org.uk/news/2010/10/open-house-air-day-to-replace-the-biggin-hill-air-fair-commencing-september-2011/

Might still be good but have been looking at Fairford IAT line up instead.

Bit gutted about that.

Jeeze - me neither. I'll have to make a few phone calls and get the in-depth gen on the new displays. Once I've received any worthwhile info I'll report back.
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
And even try to explain, once and for all, why Dowding and keith Park, THE most important figures in winning the battle - along with Churchill - were removed from their positions. Heard various explanations but non really stand up in my view.

Still find their treatment disgusting. A book came out in 41 to commemorate the BoB and Dowding wasn't mentioned once. You can't airbrush a vastly influencial figure from that part of British history.

Biggest Churchill faux pas by some distance.

Edit - perhaps Chebby, a learned Churchill admirer, can throw some light on the subject.

I think the answer is illustrated in pages 748 - 749 of The Churchill War Papers Volume 3 1941 "The Ever Widening War" by Martin Gilbert.

These two pages contain two memos from Winston Churchill to Sir Archibald Sinclair, leader of the Liberal party and Secretary of State for Air (dated 2nd June 1941 and marked Action this day, Secret, and Private).

Churchill wanted Air Marshall Barratt sent to the USA (to work with them on war production of aircraft) and he wanted to install Dowding as Air Marshall to replace Barratt. (Churchill even embelishes this with the words "I am sure nothing but good will come of it.)

Archibald Sinclair obviously disagreed vehemently in his reply (not in the book) and Churchill bangs off another memo (personal) to Sinclair saying that as Minister Of Defence, he (Churchill) is used to being consulted by all the other services regarding such senior appointments and urges (strongly) Sir Archibald Sinclair to re-consider.

Basically there was a cabal (of which Sir Archibald Sinclair was the biggest player) determined to oust Dowding.

Now I have the volume out I will try and find more but that was very revealing and showed that Churchill was actually on Dowding's side and there are other references that showed Archibald Sinclair's animosity towards Dowding had angered Churchill more than once before.
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
Still find their treatment disgusting. A book came out in 41 to commemorate the BoB and Dowding wasn't mentioned once. You can't airbrush a vastly influencial figure from that part of British history.

That Air Ministry book was mentioned in Note 1 on the bottom of Page 749 as one of the things that made Churchill angry about Sir Archibald Sinclair's treatment of Dowding.

Martin Gilbert wrote to The Times in 1986...

"In November, 1940, when both Sinclair and the Air Staff unanimously urged Dowding’s removal, Churchill had no alternative but to accept their advice. In doing so, he stressed to Sinclair his admiration for Dowding’s qualities and achievements, and seven months later urged Sinclair to bring Dowding back to an operational command. This proposal was rejected by Sinclair and the Air Staff. In June, 1941, immediately after the fall of Crete, Churchill urged that Dowding should be recalled to active service as Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East Air Services. This too was rejected. In September 1941 Churchill wished Dowding to replace Air Marshal Tedder in the Middle East. He was confronted once more by the total refusal of Sinclair and the Chief of the Air Staff to give Dowding any active command."
 
chebby said:
plastic penguin said:
Still find their treatment disgusting. A book came out in 41 to commemorate the BoB and Dowding wasn't mentioned once. You can't airbrush a vastly influencial figure from that part of British history.

That Air Ministry book was mentioned in Note 1 on the bottom of Page 749 as one of the things that made Churchill angry about Sir Archibald Sinclair's treatment of Dowding.

Martin Gilbert wrote to The Times in 1986...

"In November, 1940, when both Sinclair and the Air Staff unanimously urged Dowding’s removal, Churchill had no alternative but to accept their advice. In doing so, he stressed to Sinclair his admiration for Dowding’s qualities and achievements, and seven months later urged Sinclair to bring Dowding back to an operational command. This proposal was rejected by Sinclair and the Air Staff. In June, 1941, immediately after the fall of Crete, Churchill urged that Dowding should be recalled to active service as Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East Air Services. This too was rejected. In September 1941 Churchill wished Dowding to replace Air Marshal Tedder in the Middle East. He was confronted once more by the total refusal of Sinclair and the Chief of the Air Staff to give Dowding any active command."

Thanks Chebby, hoped you could help.

Find this far more intriguing than a run of the mill documentary (info can be located in any half decent book). I'm not privvy to Churchill's papers, so this is an eye opener for me.

Reading your info, as well as my so-so knowledge of Dowding, there were an awful lot of conspirators; biggest players, from my researches, were Sholto Douglas and Leigh-Mallory. Both were advocates of the 'Big Wing', which was in stark contrast to "Dowding's method" of the 'hit and run' strategy.

From my past research, 'Big wing' was A) less effective at reducing enemy aircraft and B) there was more friendly fire cases than Dowding's preferred method, due to a lack of what the Americans call "target rich environment". The skies were too cluttered.

I could go on, but won't.

Thanks again, Chebby, I'll dig into this a little deeper over the coming weeks.
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
I'm not privvy to Churchill's papers, so this is an eye opener for me.

I buy the 'full fat' hardback, 1st edition Heinemann 'companion volumes' to my WSC official biography* wherever possible. (Or the W W Norton USA 1st Editions when not possible.)

However Amazon in the USA also stock the Hillsdale College press versions that only cost $26 (no import duty or VAT on books)...

You would only need these two for what you have been discussing...

Volume 15

Volume 16

*Part of my WSC official biography a couple of years ago. I have bought three more volumes since then. Only about eight companion volumes to go!

[Edit] Thankyou PP! Thanks to this thread - and the resultant delvings on amazon in the USA and UK - I have just found and ordered another (1st ed) volume from a 100% rated 3rd party bookseller in 'as new condition' for less than a third of the price that I would expect a more tatty copy to go for. (Probably because it's from a charity bookseller.) Thank you again. Happy :)
 
Ah, good you've found something that tickles the (Churchill) spot.

Yeah'll be looking at consuming something worthwhile on the Churchill years. Have a lot of books and literal stuff on the war but nothing, apart from a DVD the ma-in-law gave me, on the man himself. Obviously the DVD gives a sweeping overview of Churchill, but nothing of personal correspondants - there's a ref towards the letters he wrote while at boarding school. That's it, in a nutshell.
 
chebby said:
plastic penguin said:
...there's a ref towards the letters he wrote while at boarding school. That's it, in a nutshell.

The letters to his parents are often heart-breaking.

Indeed they are. In the context of this thread (and last few posts) that doesn't hold my attention quite as much. I've always loved the unorthodox aspects of the period, and the Dowding/Park dismissal is another topic of intrigue.
 
chebby said:
plastic penguin said:
I'm not privvy to Churchill's papers, so this is an eye opener for me.

I buy the 'full fat' hardback, 1st edition Heinemann 'companion volumes' to my WSC official biography* wherever possible. (Or the W W Norton USA 1st Editions when not possible.)

However Amazon in the USA also stock the Hillsdale College press versions that only cost $26 (no import duty or VAT on books)...

You would only need these two for what you have been discussing...

Volume 15

Volume 16

*Part of my WSC official biography a couple of years ago. I have bought three more volumes since then. Only about eight companion volumes to go!

[Edit] Thankyou PP! Thanks to this thread - and the resultant delvings on amazon in the USA and UK - I have just found and ordered another (1st ed) volume from a 100% rated 3rd party bookseller in 'as new condition' for less than a third of the price that I would expect a more tatty copy to go for. (Probably because it's from a charity bookseller.) Thank you again. Happy :)

I've come across this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dowding-Churchill-Dark-Battle-Britain/dp/1844158543/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c

Could be an interesting read.
 
The other night there was another WWII doc presented by John Sergeant called 'Lancaster: Britain's Flying Past'. It had its merits, as does most decent documentaries about the era.

However, I do wish these programmes could be fronted by proper historians, rather than celebs.

One of my favs is about 'Operation Mincemeat', presented by journalist and historian Ben Macintyre. By contrast to celebs programmes, it is properly informative, darkly witty -- altogether more convincing than the Mcgregors cavorting around as a "look at me, I'm famous..." PR exercise. I like Ewan McGregor; he seems a good sort and he's a decent actor. And yes, his brother, Colin, was a pilot with 617 Dambuster (Tornado) Squadron but...

All-in-all, they just seem fake, whereas the Macintyre's knowledge comes across more convincing, and even makes the usual cliches more interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5570fDdBOQ
 

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