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did you know ?

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by Alan 45, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Alan 45

    Alan 45 Scale Model Member

    that the Hawker Hurricane shot down more German planes in the Battle of Britain. did you know that Captain Hans Langnsdorff of the DKM Admiral Graff Spee never injured a single merchant seaman aboard any merchant ship he sank because it was dishonourable.
  2. phalinmegob

    phalinmegob compulsive kit buyer Scale Model Member

    he must of asked them all to politely disembark the ship before he sinks it,take it you mean captured seamen after sinking the ship
  3. Alan 45

    Alan 45 Scale Model Member

    he quite simply informed them to disembark then sank it and dropped them off at the nearest neutral port and went on his marry way. the last ship he sank , The dorick star , the crew were still aboard when british destoryers Exeter Achillies and Ajax court up with her.

    Langsdorff did manage to get all of the crew off the Spee when Achillies and Ajax lost her in thick fog only the captain of dorrick star stayed onboard
  4. stona

    stona Scale Model Member

    The Spitfire/Hurricane thing needs context.
    Hurricanes equipped 34 Squadrons and Spitfires 19 and the percentage kills were 56:44 (this varies slightly from source to source). Whilst the Hurricane did shoot down more Luftwaffe aircraft there were a lot more of them to do the shooting down. Without the Hurricane we would have been well and trully up the proverbial creek!
  5. tecdes

    tecdes Guest

    Think also to be born in mind was that generally but not always the Spitfires took on the Fighters & the Hurricanes had a go at the bombers.

    How that effects the facts I do not think one can be cartain. Be interesting to see the figures on Spitfire/Hurricane who shot down fighters/bombers.

    All just goes to show that one it is impossible to come to a conclusion & secondly in my mind both aircraft types did a fantastic job. More important those RAF pilots including all the numbers from the Dominions, European occupied countries & the USA who put up the fight of their lives & lost them in Hurricanes & Spitfires.

    Perhaps the Captives aboard the Graff Spee were not molested in any way. However memory tells me that Merchant Seamen were injured, if not killed, by shells fired at them by the Graff Spee at their Merchant Ships. Also the Supply ship (cannot remember the name) had a Captain who was not very kind !!! The Graff Spee also killed many Royal Navy & New Zealand officers in the Ajax Achillies & Exeter. This was one of the finest actions of the Royal Navy in its history by 3 courageous Sea Captains.

  6. flyjoe180

    flyjoe180 Scale Model Member

    My Great Uncle served as a stoker on HMS Ajax at the River Plate. He went on to serve in submarines, finally being captured by Italians when his submarine, HMS Saracen, was hit by Italian destroyers. He was sent to POW camps, from which he escaped, was caught with Italian partisans and was sentenced to be shot as a spy. He was reprieved by none other than Field Marshall Kesselring (who happened to be visiting at the time) as they were on their way to be dealt with and claimed they were just sailors. Sent to POW camp in Berlin, he was caught as part of an espionage attempt on a railway (they were packing the earth under a bombed railway line they were repairing with ice so it would melt in the spring and buckle the lines, but the ice thawed early). He was 'tried' by the Gestapo for sabotage and sent to a concentration camp for his efforts by the Germans, and after experiencing the horrors of that, was posted to a another POW camp from which he was liberated at the end of the war. A book was written about him by Dennis Holman 'The Man They Couldn't Kill'. He also appeared in a 'This is your life' episode on TV.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  7. stona

    stona Scale Model Member

    Bloody hell Joe,what a remarkable man and an amazing story.

    I had a chat with Laurie about the Spitfires going for fighters and Hurricanes for bombers. This was indeed a plan promoted by none other than Keith Park. Some years ago I was trying to reconcile Luftwaffe losses with RAF claims and couldn't really see this in the figures. Like many plans this one may have failed to survive first contact with the enemy (von Moltke.)
    RAF squadrons seem most often to have been tasked to intercept raids depending on their geographical position and state of readiness. The radar information came down from Fighter Command HQ via Group HQ to the various Sectors. This obviously wouldn't include the type of aircraft on the raid. Sector commanders did receive reports from the Observer Corps which might. This information was passed the other way up the chain of command (to Fighter Command HQ via Group).

    Dowding and Park are both on the record several times emphasising that the real target for ALL British fighters was the bombers. As early as February 1940 Dowding,at a meeting of the Air Fighting Committee,

    "wished to emphasise the point that the primary job of fighters was to shoot down bombers,not to fight other fighters."


  8. flyjoe180

    flyjoe180 Scale Model Member

    Steve, there were other escapes my Great Uncle had too. These include: prewar - riots in Jamaica, an enormous earthquake in Chile, and a backfire on HMS Wanderer. Wartime - leaving a pub in London which was bombed a few seconds later, falling between his ship and a dock in Gibraltar (drunk), his first submarine HMS Splendid nearly being rammed near the Isle of Man, a fight with Arabs in Alexandria, a time bomb in Haifa, HMS Maidstone (on which he was a passenger) narrowly escaping hits by torpedoes twice in the Mediterranean, and missing his submarine which was sunk that voyage (I think this may have been HMS Splendid).

    With regards to the South Atlantic raids by Graf Spee, it is interesting to note that HMS Ajax sunk the first ship of the Second World War, a German freighter 'Olinda', on 3 September 1939. The next day, 4 September 1939, Ajax sunk another German freighter, the 'Carl Fritzen'. On both occasions the crews were removed and taken prisoner before the ships were sunk. On the way to a rendezvous of Ajax, Achilles and Exeter 200 miles east of Montevideo from the Falklands, on 13 September 1939 Ajax sunk a third merchantman, 'Ussukuma', which was eventually scuttled by the crew. The next day of course, 14 September 1939, the three cruisers intercepted Graf Spee and the famous Battle of the River Plate ensued.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  9. stona

    stona Scale Model Member

    He certainly beat the odds Joe.I don't reckon you could say that he led a mundane life!
    I shall keep a weather eye open for the book you mentioned.
  10. tecdes

    tecdes Guest

    First Alan apologies if it feels that we are commandeering your article. But I have found it very interesting.

    Hope Steve will not mind but he spoke to me as he said although he could not agree with me on Spitfires concentrating on the German Fighters he was not happy to place that on the forum & embarrass me. Thought that was gallant. Assured him that it would not embarrass.

    There are some variances I have. My information is probably in the main different from Steve’s in that most comes from reading personal Auto/ Biographys of WW11 pilots. I have a library in the region of 800 books on WW11.

    A few facts but not to the labour the matter.

    Parks & Dowding were essentially army men during WW1. Although both flew in missions both were for only very minor periods before they returned to the Army. Both were obviously top level in the RAF as Strategic Officers but not on Tactics as neither had a combat role either in modern fighters or in WW11 battle. Strategically as said it was the bombers they were after for which the Spitfire & Hurricane were designed.

    It was the Luftwaffe who dictated the RAF tactics produced by the RAF Combat commanders & their pilots.

    The Spitfire had a higher rate of climb & performed better than the Hurricane at the higher ceilings.

    Knock down the bombers. Like a scotch egg to get at the egg you have to dispose of the sausage meat first ie get rid of the fighters. The best way was to run the fighters around as their fuel rate in combat left them little time to stay.

    Interesting figures. Just warn that figures can be accumulated & read in various different ways. But this is significant. These were recorded as destroyed. Note : I only have one source for this info.

    ME109s destroyed during the B of B.
    Spitfire 180
    Hurricane 150
    Spitfires were knocking down 109s at near 3 times the rate of Hurricanes.

    But then the Hurricanes were knocking down 3 to the Spitfires 2. This was for combined German Fighters & Bombers. All in all the two a great combination


    Further reading a good article

    Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes: World War II Aircraft
  11. stona

    stona Scale Model Member

    Yes Laurie,we do have to be very careful with figures! Even the 34:19 ratio of Hurricane to Spitfire squadrons I originally posted should be qualified by the significantly higher serviceability rates of the Hurricane which means in reality there were relatively even fewer Spitfires involved in the battle.

    Hurricane production was also significantly higher than Spitfire production throughout the July-November 1940 period. There were only three weeks during this period when the RAF had a net loss of Hurricanes and four with a net loss of Spitfires. We were producing an average of about 60 (54-69) Hurricanes per week and about 35 (30-44) Spitfires.

    When you start trying to tally the opposing claims and losses things get even more complicated! Some authors don't even attempt a final tally for the BoB these days and I don't blame them :)

    Despite starting out as an artillery man Keith Park was a flyer in WWI,he flew fighters and was awarded an MC and bar. He received his DFC for completeing the second non stop flight around the coast of Britain (with a Captain Stewart). At the time of his posting as the SASO to Dowding's staff in July 1938 he had commanded a fighter squadron and two front line fighter stations.

    I think that Dowding's career is well known. By an odd coincidence he too started out in artillery but was flying with the RFC in 1914. It is often forgotten that this is a mere 11 years after the Wright Flyer first limped into the air from a windy beach!
    He's been a personal hero for me for as long as I can remember!


  12. tecdes

    tecdes Guest

    Yes Steve read some time ago that the turn around rate for a Hurricane was just over 10 minutes whereas the Spitfire was in the region of 30 mins.

    Yes, agree, (this cannot go on) Dowding is a great man & a shame that he was not seen as such until so much later. In my history he is placed with Montgomery & Cunningham (perhaps Horton as well) as being superior to any in WW11. Dowding put up in front of Churchill (some courage) & won but lost through that his public recognition. Churchill is my ultimate but his shabby treatment of Dowding was appalling. I often wondered if Churchill admitted that to himself. Terrible shame.

    The only criticism of Dowding was his failure to develop night fighters but then no body else seemed to either until it was found necessary. What was Portal doing ?

  13. stona

    stona Scale Model Member

    This is another can 'o worms!

    Douglas (Deputy Chief of the Air Staff) sent a long memo about night interception problems to Newall (his boss,Chief of the Air Staff) on 28 August 1940. He urged that they needed to be tackled "rather more vigorously than at present" and suggested that "Dowding was pinning his faith almost entirely on the Beaufighter and AI" (airborne interception). Neither of these were operationally ready. Douglas thought that more Defiant,Blenheim and Hurricane squadrons should be used at night and standing patrols (an old chestnut dismissed by Dowding and Park as a waste of time and resources,even in daylight) should be instituted over major targets. Douglas also suggested removing the Blenheim's mid upper turret,which he said would give another 15 mph on the top speed,and modify the engines for 100 octane fuel currently reserved for Spitfires and Hurricanes.
    Newall did not express an opinion but Dowding replied to Douglas on 7 September raising a series of practical points. How long would it take to modify the Blenheims? What would be the effect on the aircraft's Cof G? How long to modify Mercury engines for 100 octane fuel? The Defiant squadrons he reminded Douglas had failed totally as day fighters and their crews were not trained in night flying,let alone night fighting. He was,reluctantly,maintaining standing patrols over some targets. He concluded that he was busy with the day battle being waged over South East England (this was the height of the BoB) but would be happy to discuss the subject further next time Douglas visited Bentley Priory.

    He had already written to Douglas on 28th August explaining his reluctance to employ his Hurricane squadrons at night and emphasising that the Beaufighter was Britain's only realistic chance of an effective night fighter.
    Park issued sensible instructions for the operation of night fighter wings on 27th October 1940. The tactics "once the enemy has been seen,are those of a cat stalking a mouse rather than a greyhound chasing a hare."

    Both men were let down by the inability of British technology to bridge the gap between the research being done Bawdsey (where Watson-Watt had shifted all his research to,against Dowding's wishes) and the practicalities of fitting this sort of equipment into aeroplanes. There was a muddle at the Air Ministry,lack of qualified technicians whose priority was anyway the Chain Home system,a reluctance of the Air Ministry to involve the electronics industry and so on.It was Dowding,along with Tizard,who finally involved EMI in the program and it was that company that finally turned the research into a viable system.

    It was too late to prevent the night time blitz.Alarmed by the raids Whitehall did what it still does best,it formed a committee of instant experts under Salmond and included Freeman,Tedder and Douglas. On 17th September 1940 they came up with a set of recommendations about which Dowding was only asked the following day. Dowding unwisely rejected them in his blunt style. He was wrong to do so and on at least one point,his refusal to decentralise filtering to Group level,probably wrong.
    After this Dowding's days were numbered.
    Salmond told Sinclair,Beaverbrook and Churchill that Dowding must go. He also wrote to Trenchard that " Dowding has not the qualifications of a commander in the field,as he lacks humanity and imagination."
    He also wrote that Newall,because "his strategic judgement is completely at fault" should go too.

    He then wrote his infamous letter to Churchill

    "I am most anxious to put to you the case for a change in the holder of the important position of C-in-C Fighter Command. Recently,on Lord Beaverbrook's instructions,I have carried out an enquiry intonight air defence,the result of which,together with what has since occurred,makes a change,in my opinion,imperative. This opinion is also very strongly held bymost,if not all,service members of the Air Council."

    Admiral Tom Phillips,who knew precisely nothing about airborne interception stuck his oar in as Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff. In his opinion the interception of night bombers was the most important problem facing Britain's defenders. Unfortunately when he communicated his opinion and trite suggestions to Churchill on 16th October 1940 Britain had neither an effective airborne radar,nor a fighter to carry it. Phillip's solution was to have day fighters flying patrols over London at night.

    Dowding responded

    "You will note that Admiral Phillips suggests no method of employment of fighters but would merely revert to a Micawber like method of ordering them to fly about an wait for something to turn up."

    Salmond and his advisors were wrong and Dowding was right about how to defeat the night bombers. The lack of an effective,radar equipped night fighter from September 1940 onwards sealed his fate. Dowding was not good at politics which didn't help his cause, he finally left on 25th November 1940.

    Sorry for the long post......I did say that Dowding is one of my heroes!

  14. Alan 45

    Alan 45 Scale Model Member

    you are spot on about the Graff Spee , I see you are someone who knows his stuff Laurie :thumsup: its a shame Exeter had to retire from battle because she had the rough end of the stick attacking from the portside alone but still gave the Spee a bloody nose as it were.

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