RAF & Commonwealth

Hawker Hurricane IIc Fighter

Sir Sydney Camm designed the Hurricane in 1934 and finished the prototype a year later. While it was inferior to the best contemporary fighters, it was also sturdy, reliable and easy to produce in quantity. The RAF placed it's first orders in 1936. The Hurricane bore the brunt of the fighting in the Battle of Britain from August – October 1940 accounting for 60% of the RAF's air victories. Due to the differences in abilities between it and the Spitfire, the Hurricane usually went after the German bombers, while the Spitfires went after the ME-109s and ME-110s. Three major variants were produced throughout WWII and the Hurricane fought in all of the theaters and in many roles. It performed well as an interceptor, fighter-bomber, night fighter and ground attack craft. A total of 14,233 were built. The Hurricane Mk IIc was given a new propeller spinner, new wing mounted 20 mm cannons a slightly modified wing and 2 hard points for bombs. The Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc was armed with 4 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannons and could carry 2 500 lb or 250 lb bombs. This model shows a Hurricane IIc based at Tangmere, England. On May 4, 1942 the pilot of this plane shot down 3 German HE-111 bombers over France.

Hawker Hurricane II C Fighter

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Westland Lysander Liaison Plane

The Westland Lysander first flew on June 15, 1936. It was designed and used initially as a RAF army cooperation, artillery spotting and liaison aircraft but by mid 1942 the Lysander's vulnerability to enemy fighters caused its assignment to target and glider towing, air-sea rescue and communications roles. The Lysander is best known for its "cloak and dagger" role; flying agents in and out of German occupied Europe. Its slow speed and short takeoff and landing capability made it well suited for such night missions into unprepared fields. In 1941-1944, Lysander pilots flying alone delivered or picked up more than 800 agents in France, never knowing whether German soldiers might be waiting at the landing sites. The Lysander Mk.I was armed with two .303 cal. Browning machineguns in the wheel spats and one pintle mounted .303 cal. Lewis or Vickers K machinegun in rear cockpit. The spat mounted stub wings could carry up to 500 lbs. of bombs. A total of 1,786 Lysanders were built in England and Canada. The Lysander was flown by Australia, Canada, Egypt, Finland, Free France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Turkey, The United Kingdom and The United States. This model shows a Westland Lysander III flown by No. 225 squadron used for reconnaissance patrols along the south coast of England between September 1940 and April 1941. This aircraft survives today on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, London.

Westland Lysander Liaison Plane

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb Floatplane

The Supermarine Spitfire was Britain's premiere fighter throughout WWII. Its pilots found it to be agile and dependable, a fine combat plane capable of great speed and good high altitude performance. The Spitfire was continuously upgraded over 24 marks so that it would match or better the best fighters at the time and continued to be used until the late 1950s. The last Spitfire was produced in February 1948 for a total production run of 20,351 of all variants. The Spitfire was the only British fighter aircraft to be in continuous production before, during and after WWII. Probably the most famous of the Spitfire's battles was the Battle Of Britain in 1940 where the Spitfire gained an enormous reputation as the premier fighter of the battle. However, the more numerous Hurricanes actually shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. After the Battle of Britain the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the Southeast Asian theaters. The Spitfire flew with Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Soviet Union, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United States, and Yugoslavia.

The Mk.V Spitfire was designed as a high altitude pressurized version with a new engine. The Mk.Vb version became the main production version of the Mark V. Along with the new engine a new propeller was provided and a new wing was also designed with clipped win tips to improve performance. The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb was armed with either 2  20 mm Hispano Mk II cannons or 4 .303 cal. Browning machineguns and could carry 2 250 lb bombs.

The idea for the Spitfire Mk.Vb floatplane came about when the Germans invaded Norway in April 1940. The RAF became interested in the idea of using a floatplane fighter in areas where airfields were not available. After the battle was over the idea was shelved. With the entry of Japan into the war the concept was revived in early 1942. A Spitfire V was fitted with a pair of floats 25 ft 7 in long, mounted on cantilever legs. The Spitfire floatplane was first flown on October 12, 1942 and 2 more Mk.VBs were converted. All three floatplanes were transported to Egypt, arriving in October 1943. At the time it was thought that the floatplanes could operate from concealed bases in the Dodecanese Islands. This did not happen and as no other use could be found for the floatplane Spitfires they continued operating in Egypt from the Great Bitter Lake. This model shows the first Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb floatplane. Also see the Mk. XIV and the Vc trop and the Mk.I.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb Float Plane

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV Fighter

The Supermarine Spitfire was Britain's premiere fighter throughout WWII. Its pilots found it to be agile and dependable, a fine combat plane capable of great speed and good high altitude performance. The Spitfire was continuously upgraded over 24 marks so that it would match or better the best fighters at the time and continued to be used until the late 1950s. The last Spitfire was produced in February 1948 for a total production run of 20,351 of all variants. The Spitfire was the only British fighter aircraft to be in continuous production before, during and after WWII. Probably the most famous of the Spitfire's battles was the Battle Of Britain in 1940 where the Spitfire gained an enormous reputation as the premier fighter of the battle. However, the more numerous Hurricanes actually shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. After the Battle of Britain the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the Southeast Asian theaters. The Spitfire flew with Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Soviet Union, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United States, and Yugoslavia.

The Rolls-Royce Griffon engine was designed in answer to Royal Naval specifications which required an engine capable of generating good power at low altitudes. The idea of adapting the Spitfire to take the new engine began in October 1939. The first Griffon powered Spitfires suffered from poor high altitude performance and by 1943 engineers had developed a new Griffon engine. The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV was the first Spitfire to use the new engine and it gave a substantial performance increase over earlier types. A new five bladed Rotol propeller was used and larger radiators and other design changes were made including a new fin and rudder. The new version entered service in January 1944 with a top speed of 446 mph. They were first assigned to intercepting V-1 flying bombs and the Mk.XIV was the most successful of all Spitfire types in that role. The Mk.XIV became the main high altitude air superiority fighter in northern Europe with six squadrons operational by December 1944. The Spitfire Mk.XIV was armed with 2  20 mm Hispano Mk II cannons and 2 .50 cal Browning M2 machine guns. This model shows a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV with 610 Squadron in September 1944 flown by Sqn Ldr R A Newbery. Squadron Leader Newbury DFC was the Commanding officer of 610 Squadron and he recorded a personal tally of 9 V-1s while flying this Spitfire. Also see the Vb floatplane and the Vc trop and the Mk.I.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV Fighter

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Vultee Vengeance Dive Bomber

The Consolidated-Vultee A-31 Vengeance was pre war dive bomber. Designed under the designation V-72, the aircraft that would eventually be named Vengeance by the RAF and FAA was developed as a dive bomber by the Vultee Corporation. Large numbers were sold to Brazil, China, Turkey and the USSR during the mid to late 1930s. In 1940 the British purchased 700 V-72s and with the introduction of lend lease in 1941, the US ordered 300 more examples for the RAF and FAA under the designation A-31. The majority of the RAF Vengeances served in Burma, where they enjoyed considerable success. When the U.S. entered the war, it commandeered 243 of the aircraft meant for the UK and later had even more Vengeances manufactured for the USAAF under the designation A-35. By the end of production in 1944, 1,528 aircraft had been built. The Vengeance was armed with 4 .30 cal. Browning machineguns and 2 .30 cal. Browning machineguns on a flexible mount in rear cockpit and could carry 2 500 lb bombs internally and 2 250 lb bombs on wing racks. This model shows a Vultee Vengeance II with No.24 Squadron RAAF in New Guinea in 1943.

Vultee Vengeance Dive Bomber

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Fairey Barracuda Carrier Torpedo Plane

The Fairey Barracuda was a British carrier based torpedo bomber first flown on December 7, 1940 and entering service in January 1943. Although designed as a torpedo bomber, the Barracuda was an effective dive bomber and very rarely carried torpedoes. Barracudas were pivotal in sinking the German battleship Tirpitz, scoring 14 direct hits on Tirpitz with 250 lb and 500 lb bombs. In April 1944 Barracudas started operations against Japanese forces. By June 1945 the Royal Navy had four Barracuda squadrons in action against the Japanese. The Fairey Barracuda was armed with 2 .303 cal. Vickers K machineguns on a flexible mount in the rear cockpit and could carry 1 1,620 lb aerial torpedo or 4 450 lb depth charges or 6 250 lb bombs. The Barracuda continued in Fleet Air Arm service until the mid 1950s and 2,607 Barracudas were built and none survive today. This model shows a Barracuda of 812 squadron, Fleet Air Arm, British Pacific Fleet in 1945.

Fairy Barracuda Torpedo Bomber

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Gloster Meteor Mk.III Fighter

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the only Allied jet fighter that saw active service during WWII. First flying on March 5th 1943 and powered by two Halford turbojet jet engines, the Meteor entered operational service in July 1944. Initially the Meteor was employed to shoot down German V-1 flying bombs. The RAF was forbidden from flying the Meteor over German held territory due to fears of wreckage falling into German hands. The Meteor III entered service on December 18, 1944. The Mk.III was a substantial improvement over the Meteor I with redesigned nacelles and a new engine. In January 1945 the Meteors were moved to Belgium where they flew armed reconnaissance and ground attack missions without encountering any German jet fighters. By the end of WWII Meteors had destroyed 46 German aircraft on the ground. The Meteor continued to be upgraded throughout the late 1940s and 1950s fighting in the Korean War and serving with Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Syria and Sweden. The Meteor was armed with 4 20 mm British Hispano cannons. Production ended in 1954 with 3,900 of various types built and there are still several Meteors flying today in private hands. This model shows a Gloster Meteor III from 616 Squadron at RAF Manston in December 1944.

Gloster Meteor III Fighter

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de Havilland Mosquito B.IX Bomber

Nicknamed the Wooden Wonder, the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a wooden construction multi role aircraft that flew during WWII and into the post war era. The Mosquito was originally designed as a high speed bomber and was one of the fastest planes in the world when production began in 1941. Throughout WWII the Mosquito was modified to perform many other roles including tactical bomber, high altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day fighter, night fighter, fighter bomber, intruder, maritime strike, photo-reconnaissance aircraft and civilian transport. 7,181 Mosquitoes were built and flew with Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, China, People's Republic of China, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, France, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Soviet Union, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Yugoslavia. Civilian versions were flown by Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The B.IX bomber version of the Mosquito was the first high altitude unarmed bomber version. It featured a pressurized cabin and was powered by 2 Merlin 72 intercooled engines with two speed two stage superchargers giving it a maximum speed of 408 mph, a ceiling of 36,000 ft and a range of 2,450 nm. The Mosquito B.IX could carry four 500 lb. bombs in the fuselage bomb bay and two 500 lb. bombs on the wings or extra fuselage fuel tanks and 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks. A few were converted to take one 4000 lb. bomb in the fuselage. This model shows a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito B.IX flying with 105 Squadron RAF out of Marnham, Norfolk in the Summer of 1943.

deHavilland Mosquito B.IX Bomber

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Boulton Paul Defiant NF.I Night Fighter

The Boulton Paul Defiant was the first RAF fighter in service to mount a four gun turret. Designed as a bomber interceptor the Defiant first flew on August 1, 1937. The idea of a turret armed fighter originated in 1935 as a way for the RAF to defend Great Britain against massed formations of unescorted bombers. The theory was that the Defiant would approach an enemy bomber from below or the side. While the pilot positioned the plane the gunner would shoot down the bomber. This also relieved the pilot of the necessity of aiming and firing the guns, allowing him to concentrate on flying the plane. In practice, when the Defiant was used as a night fighter, this worked fairly well. During the Battle Of Britain four squadrons flew the Defiant and they shot down more enemy aircraft than any other type. When the Defiant was pressed into service as a daytime fighter it did have some initial successes. On May 29, 1940 the Defiant had it’s best day, shooting down 19 JU-87 Stuka dive bombers, nine ME-110 heavy fighters, eight ME-109s and a Ju-88. However German pilots soon learned that the Defiant had no forward firing guns and Defiant losses quickly mounted especially among the gunners who were often unable to leave stricken aircraft and the defiant was removed from daytime fighter service. The Defiant was also converted to trainers, target tows, ECM aircraft and air sea rescue planes. The Boulton Paul Defiant was armed with four .303 cal. Browning machineguns in a hydraulically powered dorsal turret. This model shows a Defiant NF.I flying with 256 Squadron from RAF Squires Gate in December 1940. One Defiant survives today on display at the Royal Air Force Museum.

Boulton Paul Defiant NF.I Night Fighter

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia Fighter

The Supermarine Spitfire was Britain's premiere fighter throughout WWII. Its pilots found it to be agile and dependable, a fine combat plane capable of great speed and good high altitude performance. The Spitfire was continuously upgraded over 24 marks so that it would match or better the best fighters at the time and continued to be used until the late 1950s. The last Spitfire was produced in February 1948 for a total production run of 20,351 of all variants. The Spitfire was the only British fighter aircraft to be in continuous production before, during and after WWII. Probably the most famous of the Spitfire’s battles was the Battle Of Britain in 1940 where the Spitfire gained an enormous reputation as the premier fighter of the battle. However, the more numerous Hurricanes actually shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. After the Battle of Britain the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the Southeast Asian theaters. The Spitfire flew with Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Soviet Union, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United States, and Yugoslavia.

First flying on March 5, 1936 and based on designs going back to 1931, the Supermarine Spitfire MK.I finally entered production in mid 1938 after a long series of production delays that almost lead to the cancellation of the entire program. The Spitfire was designed as a balanced high performance bomber interceptor and fighter to take full advantage of the Merlin engine. Since it was believed that only unescorted bombers would be used to attack, rate of climb was a primary design criterion. The Mk.I was armed with 8 .303 cal. Browning machineguns. Initial test showed that the guns worked perfectly at low altitude and on the ground. But, at higher altitude, the guns had a tendency to freeze solid if there was any moisture present. A fix was quickly found by running hot air ducts from the wing mounted radiators to the guns adding the distinctive red fabric patches over the gun ports to protect the guns until they were fired. Initially fitted with a two bladed propeller, a new three bladed propeller was introduced after the 78th produced Spitfire which dramatically increased performance. In early 1939 a blown canopy was introduced to improve pilot vision. These and other small improvements resulted in an increase in maximum speed to 353 mph and a climb rate of 2,895 ft/min by the time of the Battle Of Britain. This model shows a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia (L1043) flying with 610 Squadron at Biggin Hill during the Battle Of Britain. Also see the Vb floatplane and the Vc trop and the XIV.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia Fighter

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Fairy Swordfish Mk.I Carrier Torpedo Plane

The Fairey Swordfish started out as a replacement for the Fairey IIIF Mk.IIIB flying with the Greek Navy and as an answer to a British Air Ministry specification. The prototype first flew on April 17, 1934, an order was placed in 1935 and the Swordfish Mk.I entered service in 1936. By 1939 the Fleet Air Arm had thirteen squadrons equipped with the Swordfish Mk.I as well as three flights equipped with floats for use off catapult equipped warships. Although considered obsolete by 1940 the Swordfish served with great distinction during WWII scoring several notable successes. One from HMS Warspite spotted the fall of shot and radioed gunnery corrections back to the ship during the Second Battle of Narvik in 1940 and then sank the U-64. On November 11, 1940 Swordfish attacked the Italian battlefleet at Taranto, sinking or disabling three Italian battleships and a cruiser. Taranto was visited by the Japanese naval attaché from Berlin, who later briefed the staff who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. Swordfish also flew anti-shipping sorties from Malta. In May 1941 a Swordfish strike from HMS Ark Royal damaged the German battleship Bismarck, preventing her escape to France. The Swordfish also pioneered the use of air to surface radar, flew from merchant aircraft carriers on anti-submarine patrols carrying rockets and depth charges and using RATO units to take off. The Swordfish's low stall speed and tough design made it ideal for operation from the MAC carriers. Its takeoff and landing speeds were so low that it did not require the carrier to be steaming into the wind. There were even occasions that Swordfish were flown from a carrier at anchor. Swordfish accounted for 14 U-boats destroyed. At the end of production on August 18, 1944 2,400 Swordfish had been built. Several survive today. The Swordfish was armed with one forward firing .303 cal. Vickers machinegun and one .303 cal. Lewis or Vickers K machine gun in rear cockpit. It could carry eight 60 lb. RP-3 rockets or one 1,670 lb. torpedo or one 1,500 lb. mine or 1,500 lbs. of bombs. This model shows a Fairey Swordfish Mk.I from 824 squadron assigned to HMS Eagle and flown off of HMS Illustrious during the attack on Taranto on November 11, 1940.

Fairey Swordfish Mk.I Carrier Torpedo Plane

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