Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Shepperton
    Posts
    815
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Hi all

    I've just seen on a FB page a couple of people repeating the comment that in the BoB 'Hurricanes were sent to attack the bombers, while the Spitfires took on the fighters'. The implication being that Hurricanes were 'only' good for attacking the bombers while the 'better' Spitfires were used to take on the 109's'. Spitfire Snobbery remains alive and well?

    My hunch is that that view is far too simplistic, that in practice things were generally pretty messy and rarely worked out that tidily, and that we often simply had to make use of whatever was available against each incoming raid.

    But do any of our BoB experts have any evidence from sources that there was any 'policy' by the Controllers that where possible (time, altitude, numbers, positioning) in mixed-defence situations the Spit's would be sent to hold off the 109s while the Hurri's would be sent in against the bombers?

    Ian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    4,216
    Thanks
    48
    Thanked 62 Times in 57 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Ian,
    Just below your thread (on my desktop) is the thread dealing with the Operations Research Branch in Bomber Command. I had quite a lot to do with them in my Met career.
    It would seem that for such a large organisation to be put into Bomber Command there might well have been similar organisations set up in the other Commands.
    If that is so, then there might have been one in Fighter Command. Not, perhaps, with as good a PR team! But if there's a similar doc to the BC one then you might well strike pay-dirt therein?
    Just a thought!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Lancashire
    Posts
    557
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 9 Times in 9 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Given that as the Spitfire had a superior climb rate, then it would be logical to use them to attack higher formations, i.e. the fighters, regardless of any other reason or "snobbery". However I don't think that there's any room for doubting your suggestion that is simply couldn't/didn't happen that way in practice.

    The problem with thinking of it in terms of "snobbery" is that the Spitfire out-performed the Hurricane and so was more capable of dealing with the Bf.109s, whereas the Hurricane was regarded as a more stable gun platform and thus better at attacking a formation of bombers. So if Fighter Command didn't think of using them in this manner, when possible, then they were being incompetent.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Shepperton
    Posts
    815
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Ok, thanks chaps. Noted and accepted.

    Graham - I don't disagree that that would have been the 'ideal'. I was simply wondering how achievable it was in practice, or whether in practice what had to be done (ie using whatever a/c we had to hand at the moment) means that such broad statements today aren't actually supported by what we were able to do at the time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    114
    Thanks
    11
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Very interesting discussion, and it brought to mind an anecdote I thought I would share.
    Several years ago I had the privilege of interviewing the last surviving member of my Dad's crew, the tail gunner. Bob was 94 when I met him and sharp as a tack. I asked him about the fighter affiliation exercises and he chuckled at the memory. "Your Dad got very adept at throwing that big bomber around all over the skies. We could hold our own against the Hurricane, but oh, those Spitfires !....They made us work for it!"

    All the best to everyone,
    Clint
    Last edited by ClintCoffey; 21st February 2021 at 22:58.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    236
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 11 Times in 7 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Each had their own strength and indeed weaknesses and no doubt the various senior commanders were aware of this and made best use of their strengths. It is largely irrelevant which was better, as without either we would have lost the fight in 1940. That battle was about numbers and I believe the Hurricane was easier to produce and production gave us the edge - just. I have no idea about maintenance or survivability, to use the modern term, but they would also come into play. I suspect Spitfire "snobbery" is much more about looks, and that, I'm afraid the Spitfire would always win (in my view).

    What was the kill ratio of Hurricanes to Spitfires per number of sorties that involved contact with the enemy? ORS for Fighter Command?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    4,216
    Thanks
    48
    Thanked 62 Times in 57 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    Hello All,
    I live near Reading. If I go into town (when The Plague permits!) I can still see the sites of garages, coach-builders, etc, etc, that were used to produce bits of Spitfires when its production was dispersed after the Southampton raid of 24 Apr 40. The old boys beyond call-up age could still bash metal to produce fuel tanks, bits of control surfaces, and solder wiring looms. These were then all taken to Crazies Farm (nr Henley) where they were put together, test flown, and then flown to an MU to be properly militarised. There must have been other locations doing the same thing?
    I don’t know if the Hurricane was mass/dispersed produced in the same way?
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    486
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 53 Times in 53 Posts

    Default Re: Roles of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the BoB - Spitfire Snobbery?

    I do think that there would have been a policy of trying to use Spitfires against the fighters but as others have posted - it would have been impossible to have a strict policy as it would depend on which squadrons were 'available' at the time of incoming raids.In practical terms - the Hurricane was quite a bit slower than the Spitfire and Me109 - I have seen 'in service' Hurricane test flights attaining only 305mph,so the Hurricane had a good performance advantage over (say) He111 & Do17 but they would have struggled to catch (say) a Ju88 or Me110 in a shallow dive.

    This is a Hurricane/Spitfire/Me109 performance table compiled by a sort of 'neutral' source - put together by the Luftwaffe test centres and judged to be 'fairly accurate' by one of the most experienced british test pilots....from it you might conclude that the 109 and spit were very close in speed etc,the 109 initial climb rate was better but the spitfire overall climb rate and operational ceiling was better.

    If I might quote myself from another aviation website some years ago :)

    Hurris sometimes had trouble catching JU88's,esp empty returning from raids because they did not have much speed margin over a JU88 in a very shallow dive.
    The 109 had an excellent engine fuel system but was under winged,cramped and with bad visibility for pilots,it's wing slats were not linked which could give trouble during combat.
    The spit had carefree handling and lower wing loading (than 109) which meant that its tightest combat turning radius would be much easier to achieve by a fairly inexperienced pilot.
    The hurricane also was fairly vice free handling wise but heavier,slightly more stable gun platform than spit and prob slightly heavier weight of shot (guns mounted closer together) but it's pilots were more likely to be badly burned by fuel 'torching' through cockpit if the fwd fuel tank (or wing tank) was hit.As has been said many times it was easier to produce in 1939 and did a great job.
    As previously posted many fighter kills were of the 'hit and run' type and these were the favoured luftwaffe tactics anyway.

    Last edited by bvs; 23rd February 2021 at 09:21.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •