I can see to this day the old farmer who was alongside ploughing, and this 109 went on, straight through his cottage, and he’s shaking his fist at me.”, Having shot down one of his own pilots, it was a relief for Freeborn to dispatch an enemy for whom he felt no pity. Following the British victory in the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were dispatched to deal with German forces. However, as I have grown older, I have found myself preferring the Hurricane more with each passing year. All of these aircraft were biplanes or triplanes due to their perceived superiority. Diane Sawyer, journalist; anchor of ABC World News. However, I decided to solely ask members of the British public, instead of people from both the UK and US. Your email address will not be published. What hadn’t dulled over the years was his character: Like many Yorkshiremen he was forthright, funny and fearless in what he said. The Spitfire also had better armaments throughout the generations than the Hurricane. In 1939, Hawker Aircraft listed the price of a brand new Hawker Hurricane at £4,000. “We had two great barristers in Sir Patrick Hastings and Roger Bushell [later murdered by the Nazis for his part in organizing the ‘Great Escape’],” said Freeborn. “I used to take the piss out of Stephen and say, ‘Oh, you should have seen him, climbing up his bloody shroud lines,’” remembered Freeborn. For the overwhelming majority of them, they preferred the Spitfire. Hurricane vs Spitfire: Specs. In the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane shot down about twice as many Nazi (german) aircraft, compared to the Spitfire. Naturally, the two pilots who’d only flown one aircraft preferred their own aircraft, generally having very generic, pilot-related reasons (such as “they handle better”) although did comment on the other’s adeptness in battle. He gave us the order to attack and we attacked. E/A fell as T/p broke up, falling in a spiral. The incident has become known as the Battle of Barking Creek, which is curious given that Barking Creek is in east London and Freeborn shot down Hulton-Harrop many miles north over rural Essex. For me, I am torn between both aircraft. The Spitfire would subsequently make its maiden flight on March 5 1936, before being introduced in August 1938. Height: 13 ft. 12 ft. 7 in. Other Spitfire squadrons were placed strategically in the South of England. He promptly shot them up and consigned them to their maker.” Freeborn acknowledged the incident with a laugh. Both aircraft are the same height, with the Hurricane being only mildly longer and wider. That proved too much for John Freeborn. Robin and Maurice Gibb, singers, songwriters; co-founders of the Bee Gees band. I then returned to Hornchurch.”, The first of Freeborn’s two kills gave him particular satisfaction. But it quick enough to target bombers. Before we can compare both the Hurricane and the Spitfire, we must first understand the basics behind both of the aircraft. It also marked the first of Freeborn’s 13½ kills. “I was a very good pilot, there was no one in the squadron as good as me, not even Malan,” claimed Freeborn. Today, many former RAF Hawker Hurricanes are still flying, with several currently up for sale (as of the time of writing). It was 55 %to the Hurricane versus 45% to the Spitfire. Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain (Photo from the Imperial War Museum) The Hurricane, with its wood and fabric construction, was also easier for ground crews to repair and conduct maintenance on. As has been said, the Hurricane and Spitfire were going after the bombers mostly. He was in B Flight, commanded by Treacy, as was another Irishman, Byrne. “He told him he was a downright bloody liar.”, The court-martial lasted half a day and, after considering the evidence, the tribunal acquitted Freeborn and Byrne. Pilots were instructed to sharpen up their visual identification of aircraft, while the training of controllers, plotters and radar operators was improved. If you were interested in owning and operating a Hawker Hurricane (from WWII) you’d be looking at an aircraft that costs around £3,000 ($5,000) to operate per hour, including maintenance. In the dogfight with the Messerschmitts he had lost two pilots, including his friend Don Cobden. Many of these Spitfires would subsequently see service during the German invasion of France. Alongside Hurricanes, some squadrons of Spitfires were placed in France as deterrent. The reason for that notoriety is due to the team's staggering success, which developed over the weekend as they were crowned the European Gauntlet 2020 Champions. For the most part, during the war, fighter aircraft and interceptors were different from one another. Did that include lying to protect his reputation? We recently compared the P-51 Mustang and Spitfire, where we were inundated with requests for a Hurricane-Spitfire comparison. The remaining people spoke about how the Hurricane was the workhorse of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Repositioning to attack from the rear, Byrne dispatched one of the aircraft and Freeborn opened fire on the other with his Spitfire’s eight Browning .303-inch guns, sending it down in flames. The most famous fighter aircraft used in the Battle of Britain were the British Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire Mk I and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E variant (Emil) single-engined fighters. Freeborn and Byrne had a first-class defense team. Frank Kellogg, U.S. Secretary of State who tried to outlaw war with the Kellogg-Briand Pact. No I, the first operational plane I flew was a Battleton (sp) and I flew it down in Trenton and that was in ‘40. Due to the Hurricane’s popularity, with it having served in many important WWII battles, many people are restoring Hurricanes to flying condition. “I would sometimes fly quite close to frighten them, so close the slipstream would hit them and it would blow the parachute all over the place. Hawker was one of the manufacturers to do so. The most famous of these was during the Defense of Malta, where Spitfires destroyed their own bases in order to prevent German occupation. But it wasn’t. I was only a kid and I’d never flown a monoplane.”. In total, I would say that I prefer the Hurricane over the Spitfire, however, not by much. The changing nature of the air war over Europe drove a slew of upgrade programmes for both aircraft. Fortunately out of the confusion emerged greater clarity. Malan, who was appointed 74 Squadron’s CO on August 8, frequently consulted Freeborn on tactics. Many UK-allied militaries were also evaluating the Hurricane, with Yugoslavia already implementing several Hurricane squadrons. Tactics of Japanese "Tony" Type Fighter 1. I was shouting at him to get out of the bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it. He could be provocative, yet his character was underpinned by an acute sense of probity. None of the 20 fighter pilots had ever been in combat, or even seen a German airplane up close, and this inexperience, ignorance and excitement was about to have fatal consequences. At 0645 hours on September 6 there was another scramble and Flight Lt. Adolph Malan, nicknamed “Sailor” because of his stint as a naval cadet, led Red Section through a thick ground mist into a clear blue sky. By 1939, the Spitfire was significantly faster and had a higher rate of climb, according to Dennis Richards and Richard Hough in The Battle of Britain, and they noted, ‘In handling, there was little to choose between the two,’ The authors went on to point out that the Hurricane’s twin batteries of four Brownings closely grouped together in the wings was preferred to the ‘widely scattered’ guns in the Spitfire’s … He was a brilliant pilot, but he was as evasive on the ground as he was in the air, a mix of showman and politician. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane served with the RAF prior, during and after WWII. I watched him go down to 5,000 ft before breaking off due to being short of petrol and ammunition. Freeborn’s methods upset some of his fellow pilots. ABILITY TO UPGRADE . A fighter attacked the enemy, whilst an interceptor was purely defensive. Immediately following the end of the war, fighter aircraft remained in relatively similar roles. When Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, the news was greeted with excitement at the home of No. Spitfire vs. I first met John Freeborn in the summer of 2004, when I was writing a book about the Luftwaffe bombing of London. Hurricanes were the primary aircraft used against the Luftwaffe during the evacuation of Dunkirk. So I had to come down through the cloud and that’s when we ran into the Messerschmitt 110s.”, Most of Freeborn’s combat reports were lost in the war, but his account of this encounter with dozens of Me-110s is one of the few that survived. Hawkshaw Hawkins (Harold Hawkins), country singer; he died along with country stars Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas when the small plane that was carrying them crashed in 1963. Some of these are full size, whilst others are only 2/3 the size. “But I could never get blokes to do it. During the Battle of Britain, British and allied forces used Hurricanes as interceptor aircraft against German bombers, with Spitfires taking on Bf.109s. Handsome and charismatic, Malan was at first friendly with Freeborn, but slowly another side began to emerge. Air Koryo: Inside North Korea’s Most Secretive Airline…, F-16 vs F-35: The Future of The Air Force?…, 8 × .303 in Browning Mk II machine guns (350 rounds per gun). The Hurricane might not have been as fast or as beautiful as the Spitfire, but it had a host of other virtues. Asked for his opinion of Malan’s famous “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” which became an unofficial guide for new pilots, Freeborn snorted with derision: “A lot of rubbish. Hurricane was slower, hence it have problem to take the initiative against 109. This is far cheaper than modern fighter jets like the F-22 and F-35. For most British people, they preferred the Spitfire, with the response being almost instantaneous. Major-General Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, owner of the property company Grosvenor Group. Length: 31 ft. 4 in. They couldn’t find him. A turning radius quoted as 800 feet for the Hurricane and 880 feet for the Spitfire. These aircraft go for anything from $1 to $3 million as of the time of writing. POWs Roger Bushell and Vincent “Paddy” Byrne flank a Luftwaffe guard at Luft Stalag III before the “Great Escape.” (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association), Malan, who reportedly described Freeborn’s actions as “impetuous,” confirmed he had given the order to engage but also claimed that moments later, on realizing his mistake, he had called “friendly aircraft—break away!” Freeborn, Byrne and Flinders all said they never heard the counterorder. This includes maintenance, which often doesn’t come cheap, especially for the authentic item. Unfortunately, the enemy aircraft supposedly sighted by the searchlight battery did not exist. And now for some out-of-schedule aviation geekiness: Yesterday I encoutnered an off-hand comment about whether the Spitfire or the Messerschmitt … Perhaps the fairest assessment of what happened that September morning is to attribute it to the fog of war. In 1931, the RAF wanted a new fighter, soliciting aircraft manufacturers to send in new designs. He’d gone home [he lived with his wife off base] and dropped us right in the s—.”. XIIa (left) and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. They couldn’t have cared less. The Spitfire’s long nose prevented Freeborn from seeing where he was going, and the sheer power of his new mount took him by surprise. A short while later he spotted what he took to be a Luftwaffe bomber and closed in for the kill. We got 14 and 6 pence a day during the Battle of Britain.”, In time Freeborn saw many of his friends killed: Cobden, Douglas Hastings, Peter St. John, Wally Churches and Peter Chesters, the last as he attempted a victory roll over the airfield in April 1941. The Hurricane was the principal fighter in the Battle of Britain, not the Spitfire as most people think. To do this, they solicited designs from Britain’s aircraft manufacturers for such an aircraft. The point about Hurricanes vs Bf109Fs and Gs/Fw190/ is reasonable – however, I never suggested that the Hurricane should supplant the Spitfire after 1940, indeed, like the Spitfire it should have been replaced as quickly as possible after the Battle of Britain. “Two of our A/C [aircraft] went down immediately,” he wrote. Today, most people view both the Hurricane and Spitfire as some of the best WWII-era fighter aircraft ever made. Hurricanes from 151 Squadron had also been scrambled, and Sqd. British propaganda of the era depicted Spitfires as taking on legions of Bf.109s whilst Hurricanes attacked German bombers. Their collaboration bore fruit on August 11 when the squadron flew into combat four times between dawn and 1400, accounting for 23 enemy aircraft, one probable and 14 damaged. “He wasn’t received very nicely,” said Freeborn of the prime minister. Edward Donaldson, who witnessed the attack, had no doubt who was to blame. The next day there was a squadron scramble that proved to be a false alarm. The two men were ferociously strong characters, and the two best pilots in the squadron, as they proved once the Phoney War ended and Germany invaded the Low Countries in May 1940. Whilst this role had been used during WWI, it had largely been forgotten about since then. After all, you could have the best aircraft in the world, but if it costs too much, or you can manufacture ten weaker aircraft for the same amount, numbers will eventually give way. He also added that the Hurricane handled better, although that is rather subjective…. Sailor Malan was 74 Squadron’s ace of aces, finishing the war with 27 victories. These aircraft can go for anything from $1 to $3 million. You could only do what you could do.”. He was neither well-connected nor had he been to the right school, important factors in the class-conscious higher echelons of the wartime RAF. This is what they had to say…. The Merlin powered Hurricane and Spitfire were instrumental in neutralizing the German Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air superiority over Britain, reducing the effectiveness of German bombing and preventing an Axis invasion. Number one attack.
If you were turning in a dogfight with a German fighter over the Channel, you were well off in a Hurricane. Dassault Falcon 50: Dassault’s Most Famous Jet Yet! A damage 109 resulting more often in a POW and a destroyed plane, but a damage hurricane/spitfire resulted more often in a damage plane and a pilot redy to fight next day. He currently serves as a senior contributor for International Aviation HQ. These could serve as protective aircraft for both France and Britain in case of a German incursion or invasion of either country. It created friction between Malan and myself, but not the rest of the squadron. Hurricanes used in the Western Desert were not capable of matching it with the by-then substantially upgraded Me 109s, and subsequently they became more of a fighter-bomber, used in ground support. To subscribe, click here! Two of 56 Squadron’s reserve Hurricanes soon followed, with pilots Montague Hulton-Harrop and Frank Rose unable to resist the urge to join the hunt. “I would sometimes fly quite close to frighten them, so close the slipstream would hit them and it would blow the parachute all over the place. Never saw him. Several others preferred the Hurricane. “I was teaching the doctor to fly, as all medical officers were permitted to fly, and there were two blokes playing golf,” he explained. That was the end of that.”. “He was controlling the squadron at 32,000 feet and 10/10ths cloud and he said there are bandits,” recounted Freeborn. Malan wasn’t liked. He was a bully.”. Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of US President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Had my grandfather been a Spitfire pilot, I could see my views being very different (assuming he still had the same knowledge). However, the RAF wanted to preserve its new fleet of Hurricanes, with their primary objective being to withdraw to England. Supermarine was one of these aircraft manufacturers, sending in the Type 224 monoplane. As well as restorations, several companies also sell replicas of the Hurricane. It was highly manoeuvrable, with a turning circle even tighter than that of a Spitfire. Pilot Peter Chesters; Pilot Officer Don Cobden, a huge man who had played rugby for New Zealand; and South African Malan. During the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were the very public face of the battle. “I had respect for their pilots—they were very good—but they didn’t like to mix it.”. 3—followed. By August 1935, the redesign was complete with one prototype having been built. During WWI, Pemberton-Billing (the forerunner of Supermarine) had produced a series of fighter aircraft and bombers. I also dispute that the Spitfire was one jump ahead of the Bf109 and Fw190. Flight Commander Wilfred “Paddy” Treacy talked him through the controls and then wished the teenager good luck. He soon acquired a reputation for ruthlessness. Number one attack. That’s why it didn’t bother me, or anyone else in the squadron, if you weren’t successful during a sortie. The RAF fighters made good teammates—except during their first wartime encounter. While less heralded than the famed Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane scored the majority of the RAF's kills during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. [Stephen] would say I was a rotten bugger for doing that, but I didn’t shoot any, not at all.”. There were no Luftwaffe bombers approaching the coast, so the nervous Royal Air Force pilots sat in the late summer sunshine and waited for what they believed was an imminent enemy attack. “I never did daft things like that, or if you do, you do them properly, not the way he did it.”, A lineup of No. I did not follow as many E/A were engaged and I had noted another of our A/C damaged. During the war, my grandfather had served as a Hurricane pilot, flying between 1943 and 1945. As a kid, my grandfather would tell me stories and show me intricate things on the Hurricane, many of which I still remember. During the Battle of Britain, there were 32 squadrons of Hurricanes compared with only 19 squadrons of Spitfires, yet the Spitfire is … Hurricane : Spitfire : Specifications: Span: 40 ft. 30 ft. An IFF (identification friend or foe) signal system was also fitted into aircraft to aid ground controllers. © International Aviation HQ.
Many would have claimed to be a Spitfire pilot down the pub to impress a young girl when they really had a Hurricane at home. “A daft way to die,” reflected Freeborn of his best friend. However, with the widespread introduction of jets in the 1950’s, and the onset of the Cold War, both the Hurricane and Spitfire were retired. That month Malan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Freeborn became the de facto commander of B Flight. During WWII, a fighter aircraft was any aircraft, who’s sole purpose was to engage (and hence fight) enemy aircraft. Recommend Video 17 Recommends. The role of WWII fighter aircraft differ greatly from modern fighter aircraft. Go!” Freeborn and Byrne turned in their cockpits and saw two aircraft flying a mile behind and about 1,000 feet below the dozen 56 Squadron Hurricanes, which they took to be fighters escorting the unseen Luftwaffe bombers. The Spitfire is noticeably faster than the Hurricane, although, sacrifices range for speed. Both prior and during WWII, the Hurricane and Spitfire were immensely successful aircraft. On February 13, 1939, 74 Squadron took delivery of its first Spitfire. Personally, I am British, and have grown up hearing stories about both the Spitfire and the Hurricane, both in my history classes at school and from my father’s military friends. One pilot absent from the hard labor was Pilot Officer John Freeborn, a 19-year-old who spoke his mind with a confidence that belied his tender years. As such, hawker privately funded a redesign, looking to make the P.V.3 a monoplane. “And if you had no money to lend him he would take it out of your pockets. However, when the British were on their knees in 1941, the role of fighter aircraft and interceptor were one in the same. All rights reserved. Fortunately, I was able to interview three of them- one who flew the Spitfire, one who flew the Hurricane and one who flew both. Following the war, the company had reformed as Supermarine and produced air racing aircraft. Many of the people I interviewed stated this fact as well. As usual, I asked several different groups about their opinions on both the Spitfire and the Hurricane. When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Air Force fielded its Hurricanes against the Luftwaffe’s Bf.109s. Arthur Wergs Mitchell, first African-American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. One of the aircraft that was submitted was a modernized version of the Type 224, labelled as the the prototype (K5054). “If there were any aircraft anywhere I hadn’t seen them. I was again attacked from astern by a 110…and I took decisive action coming up under him and sending a long burst into his tailplane. Others were more generous in their appraisal of the man, who was a vociferous anti-apartheid protestor in South Africa after the war. During this time, both aircraft served alongside one another in combat, with people often wondering which was better. “Malan was just married, always broke, always borrowing money,” he said. “I think I would have shot down more if it weren’t for Flinders, the sergeant pilot,” said Freeborn. I, dismissed them as “a lot of rubbish.” (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association). On top of this, we also interviewed several Hawker Hurricane owners, who told us that it can cost between $10,000 and $25,000 per year to insure a Hurricane with a reputable third party vendor! Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. “He was a swine. In the UK, we are taught about the Battle of Britain as children, with an emphasis being placed on the Spitfire’s contribution. Ia re-enact the Battle of Britain during a Duxford Airshow. In 1934, the RAF’s WWI-era fighters were ageing too much for the RAF and they sought a replacement. Also scrambled were 12 Hawker Hurricanes from No. In modern pounds, this is worth roughly £790,000 ($1,000,000). After looking at the Hurricane and Spitfire’s specifications, it may be tempting to draw a conclusion as to which is the better aircraft. Freeborn was in his mid-80s when I got to know him, living by himself in northwest England, having outlived two wives. As usual, I asked several members of the public about their opinions on the Spitfire and Hurricane. Although the Type 224 was the superior aircraft, RAF higher ups were skeptical of monoplane designs. The 80th Fighter Squadron has twice encountered "Tony" type fighters in combat, both times in the vicinity of Bogadjin. “They were Germans and they had to go,” he said. The Supermarine Spitfire was a very serious rival to the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, abbreviated Me 109, and it developed during the Battle of Britain in 1940 into a very worthy opponent, although one with different flying qualities. Freeborn joined the RAF in 1937 and was posted in October 1938 to 74 Squadron with the rank of acting pilot officer. You couldn’t stop him—too big and strong.”. However, almost 25% more Spitfires were produced in total. The final time we spoke I asked him what it was that had made him such a good pilot. “I made a sharp turn and got directly onto an E/A [enemy aircraft] which I gave a short burst of 2/3 secs and E/A turned and went down. “I thought, ‘Bloody hell, I’ve got it all wrong,’ and I went between the hangars at 180 mph.”. Freeborn got a crash course in how to fly the Spitfire as he sat in the cockpit on the grass runway at Hornchurch. (Imperial War Museum CH158). “Hastings didn’t half take Malan to pieces,” recalled Freeborn. The Hurricane vs The Spitfire . Throughout the war, many fighter aircraft also became interceptor aircraft. 56 Squadron embark on a mission from North Weald. Depending on the number of kills and history, Hurricanes go for anything from $1.5 to 2.2 million. As a kid, I spent much of my summer going to air shows and air museums, where the Spitfire was always my favorite. The Spitfire, Hurricane, and Fw-190, with their “vertical” landing gear and heavier structures, fared much better. Entering service in late 1937, the Hurricane was the brainchild of designer Sydney Camm and represented an evolution of the earlier Hawker Fury. So instead I half rolled, went through some cloud and of course I came out behind him. I gave him a squirt or two and he hit a telegraph pole with his prop and it knocked him to pieces. Although many of the pilots who flew the aircraft are now no longer with us, a few do remain. Giacomo Puccini, Italian operatic composer best known for Madam Butterfly. rt of Comparative Trials of Hurricane versus essersc I have the honour to infom you that, in accordance verbRL Instructions Headquarters, a section of Of B.A.F.F., Squadron proceeded to ORLEANS on 2nd May , 1940, to carry out certain pre 1 Iminary triEAs to assess the quall ties of a Hurricane … Your email address will not be published. They couldn’t have cared less. On top of this, modern pop culture, through many aviation-themed movies have also distorted the role of modern fighter jets somewhat. “My confidence didn’t really suffer,” reflected Freeborn of the incident. 56 Squadron at North Weald. 2, Acting Flying Officer John Freeborn; and Sgt. (Imperial War Museum CH158) Repositioning to attack from the rear, Byrne dispatched one of the aircraft and Freeborn opened fire on the other with his Spitfire’s eight Browning .303-inch guns, sending it down in flames.