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Desc:the plane that won the Battle of Britain (no matter what QI claims)
Category:Military, Science & Technology
Tags:RAF, Battle of Britain, Spitfire, RJ Mitchell, Neville Chamberlain was right
Submitted:Bort
Date:09/15/13
Views:947
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Comment count is 6
Bort
The "Neville Chamberlain was right" tag addresses a passing comment in the video which is worth noting: it's easy to dismiss Chamberlain as the "Hitler is a nice guy" peacenik idiot, but it's not that simple. Chamberlain may have hoped for peace with Hitler, but he knew not to count on it, and he made very good use of the time the Munich Agreement bought to update the British military, in particular the RAF. The alternative would have been to enter into war inadequately prepared, and most likely lose.

The question is whether Chamberlain was aware at the time that he was ruining his reputation. Also, as much as we think of Churchill as the guy who knew Chamberlain was wrong, I wonder if Churchill would have had to fall on his sword the same way if he'd been in Chamberlain's place (or rather, would he have been pragmatic enough to do so).
EvilHomer
Nuts! We didn't need to "update" the RAF! Chamberlain should have sicced our boys on the Hun back when he was still greedily pawing at the Rhineland; we would have given Uncle Adolph a right great wallop, right on the nose, and knocked that mincing vegetarian clear back to Munich, by Jingo!

SteamPoweredKleenex
From the Q.I. Book of General Ignorance, The Noticeably Stouter Version:

"The Spitfire was a more advanced design, faster, lighter to handle and capable of operating at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet. But the records clearly show that the heavy fighting in the Battle of Britain was done by the Hawker Hurricane.

There were more of them, for a start. In 1940, Hurricane squadrons outnumbered Spitfire squadrons by three to two; 1,715 Hurricanes were used in the battle, more than all the other RAF aircraft put together.

And they downed more planes. In Francis K. Mason's exhaustive account, 'Battle over Britain' (1969), he shows that of 11,400 reported engagements, Hurricanes accounted for 55 percent of all kills, to the Spitfire's 33 percent.

In general, the Hurricanes specialized in attacking bombers, while the Spitfires took the fighters. However, the highest-scoring RAF pilot in the battle, Sergeant Josef Frantisek (a Czech), only flew Hurricanes and still managed to down nine Me 109s - the fastest and best-equipped German fighter - among his total of seventeen enemy aircraft."

Sorry, Bort.
Bort
Even QI admits that the Hurricanes specialized in dealing with the bombers, because the Spitfire was better able to take on the Messerschmitts. It's kind of a good thing that the Spitfire was there to do that, because the Me 109s weren't the point, the bombers were ... but you had to get past the fighters to do something about the bombers. I imagine an RAF of 100% Spitfires could have won the Battle of Britain, but I'm far less confident about an RAF of 100% Hurricanes.

Granted, it's not as simple as "Me 109s were superior to Hurricanes therefore they win every time", but a technical advantage is still something you don't want to cede to the Nazis.

SteamPoweredKleenex
Bort, it's not that one plane isn't more advanced than the other.

It's a question of how many were there and which was the most effective. Again, the Hurricanes weren't exclusive to killing bombers as shown, above. Saying the Spitfire won the Battle of Britain is like saying the United States won WWII.

Syd Midnight
@23:26 - The Merlin put out so much hot exhaust that an early prototype Spitfire was designed with a turbocharger and afterburner, but this "motorjet" system was so complex that it would have slowed production to a crawl and wasn't worth the speed gain.

But the basic idea evolved into the turbojet, and by the end of the war Rolls-Royce was producing the worlds best jet engines and jet fighters.
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