Getting closer to the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I think it’s time to pay some homage, starting with this winner’s failure. The Defiant was the highest exponent of the very British bomber-destroyer “turret fighter” concept of the 1930s. The mere idea of shooting at bombers like on naval warfare… Well, the Defiant proved initially moderately successful, until the initial surprise was overcome. All was not lost though. They proved to be more than decently efficient stopgap night fighters and, in the long term, able target tow workers.
Regrettably not every service was interested in the cartoonist Beverley, much less in the civilian Universal.
This Meteor extravagance was a testbed conceived in 1954 to evaluate the pros and cons of a prone pilot position in high-speed aircraft; the more modest R.S.4 “Bobsleigh” covered the proof-of concept stage and low-speed range. Flown successfully a number of times, but never with the prone pilot alone, “Pinocchio” displayed mixed results. Despite its advantages to allow the pilot to withstand G-forces, it also suffered for degraded visibility (rearward mainly) and sheer ergonomic clumsiness. This very unique prototype survives at the superb RAF Museum, Cosford.
The best -of the very few available- in flight photo of WK935. Built by Armstrong-Whitworth, the “Prone Meteor” used the utterly “Buck Rogers-esque” Meteor NF 12 tail feathers. So bird-like it all.
Stupendous photo of an Allison-Mustang of the II (Army Co-operation) Sqn RAF piloted by Air Commodore Andrew Geddes. One of the Mustangs employed to take photographs over the Normandy beaches.
Cantankerous sometimes, complex always, the Sabre delivered the goods, a lot of them. Magnificent rolling display.
The Lightning in one magnificent image. An early F.1 with its pair of Firestreak missiles taking-off from a drenched Wattisham during a Press Day, 1961.
Another revisit during this quarantine; gladly, with a lesser degree of isolation now. Don’t wait much of it. One of the less thorough books written about the subject, yet easy to read and charming in its own improvised way.
Only one Hunter F.4 (XF310) was extensively modified to mount a pair of astonishing looking Fairey Fireflash beam-riding missiles. The first air-to-air guided missile to see service in the RAF, and only experimentally.
Slick early Hunters without the voluptuous “Sabrinas” shell cases collector bulges.