IRumb, 37719 4543
The London Gazette Of Tuesday, the loth of September, 1946
Registered as a newspaper
WEDNESDAY, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
The Air Ministry,
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN.
The following despatch was submitted to the Experiences in Holland and Belgium had
Secretary of State for Air on August 20th, shown what they could do with armoured
1941, by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh C. T. forces operating in conjunction with an Air
Dowding, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., C.M.G., Arm which had substantially achieved the- com-
A.D.Cs, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chiej, mand of the Air.
Fighter Command, Royal Air Force. 5. This air supremacy was doubly necessary
to them in attacking England ibecause the bulk
PREAMBLE. of their troops and war material must neces-
1. I have been instructed by the Air Council sarily 'be conveyed by sea, and, in order to
to write a Despatch on the Air Fighting of achieve success, they must be capable of giving
last Autumn, which has become known as the' air protection to the passage and the landing
" Battle of Britain." JThe conditions are a of troops and material.
little unusual -because, firstly, the Battle ended 6. The destruction or paralysis of the Fighter
many months ago, secondly, a popular account Command was therefore an essential pre-
of the fighting has already been written and requisite to the invasion of these Islands.
published, and, thirdly, recommendations for
Mention in Despatches have already been 7. Their immediate objectives might be Con-
submitted. voys, Radio-Location Stations, Fighter Aero-
dromes, Seaports, Aircraft Factories, or London
2. I have endeavoured, therefore, to write a itself. Always the underlying object was to
report which will, I hope, be of Historical bring the Fighter Command continuously to
interest, and which will, in any case, contain battle, and to weaken its material resources and
the results of more than four years' experience Intelligence facilities.
of the Fighter Command in peace and war.
8. Long after the policy of " crashing
August 20, 1941. through " with heavy bomber formations had
been abandoned owing to the shattering losses
incurred, the battle went on. Large fighter
formations were sent over, a proportion of the
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN. fighters being adapted to carry bombs,, in order
PART I.—PRELIMINARY. that the attacks might not be ignorable.
3. In giving an account of the Ba'ttle of 9. This last phase was perhaps the most diffi-
Britain it is .perhaps advisable to begin jby a cult to deal with tactically. It will be discussed
definition of my conception of the meaning of in greater detail later on.
the phrase. The Battle may be said to have 10. Night attacks by Heavy Bombers were
started when the Germans had disposed of the continuous throughout the operations, and,
French resistance in the Summer of 1940, and although they persisted and increased in in-
turned their attention to this country. tensity as Day Bombing became more and more
4. The essence of their Strategy was so to expensive, they had an essentially different pur-
weaken our Fighter Defences that their Air pose, and the " Battle of Britain " may be said
Arm should be able to give -adequate support to have ended when the Fighter and Fighter-
to an attempted invasion of the British Isles. Bomber raids died down.
4544 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
11. It is difficult to fix the exact date on clear that such an attitude was politically un-
which the " Battle of Britain " can be said tenable, I wrote on the i6th September, 1939,
to have begun. Operations of various kinds a letter to the Air Ministry. In this letter I
merged into one another almost insensibly, and pointed out that the Air Staff Estimate of the
there are grounds for choosing the date of the number of Fighter Squadrons necessary for the
8th August, on which was made the first attack defence of this country was 52, and that on the
in force against laid objectives in this country, outbreak of war I had the equivalent of 34
as the beginning of the Battle. (allowing for the fact that some Auxiliary
12. On the other hand, the heavy attacks Squadrons were only partially trained and
made against our Channel convoys probably equipped).
constituted, in fact, the beginning of the German 17. I wanted 12 new squadrons, 'but asked
offensive; because the weight and scale of the that 8 should be raised immediately, and made
attack indicates that the primary object was proposals for their location and employment.
rather to bring our Fighters to battle than to In a letter dated the 2ist September the Air
destroy the hulls and cargoes of the small ships Ministry regretted that the most they could do
engaged in the coastal trade. While we were towards meeting my requirements was to form
fighting in Belgium and France, we suffered the 2 new squadrons and 2 operational training
disadvantage that even the temporary stoppage units. I was invited to a meeting of the Air
of an engine involved the loss of pilot and air- Council on the 26th September,
craft, whereas, in similar circumstances, the 18. On the 25th September I wrote expressing
German pilot might be fighting again the same my disappointment and asking for a recon-
day, and his aircraft be airborne again in a sideration. As a result of this letter, the Air
matter of hours. Council Meeting, and a further meeting under
13. In fighting over England these considera- the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chief of Air
tions were reversed, and the moral and material Staff, the Air Ministry wrote on the gth October
disadvantages of fighting over enemy country sanctioning the immediate formation of 8 new
may well have determined the Germans to open squadrons, though 6 of these could be formed
the attack with a phase of fighting in which the initially only as half-squadrons owing to short-
advantages were more evenly balanced. I have age of resources. This correspondence is too
therefore, somewhat arbitrarily, chosen the lengthy to reproduce here, but it deals also
events of the loth July as the opening of the with my apprehensions concerning Hurricane
Battle. Although many attacks had previously wastage in France, which were realised in the
been made on convoys, and even on land objec- Spring of 1940. It also dealt with an estimate
tives such as Portland, the loth July saw the worked out by the Air Ministry Organisation
employment by the Germans of the first really Staff that after 3 months of fighting we might
big formation (70 aircraft) intended primarily expect the Fighter strength to have been re-
to bring our Fighter Defence to battle on a duced to 26 squadrons.
large scale. 19. In October, 1939, the Air Ministry further
14. I had 59 squadrons in various stages of reconsidered their policy, and ordered the for-
efficiency. A list of these units, with supple- mation of 10 additional Fighter Squadrons, 4 of
mentary information, is given in Appendix A. which were destined for the Coastal Command.
Many of them were still suffering from the 20. In January, 1940, the Northern flank of
effects of the fighting in Holland and Flanders, our continuous Defence organisation was on the
at Dunkerque, and during the subsequent Forth, and the South-Western flank was at
operations in France. Others were in process Tangmere in Sussex (with the exception of an
of formation and training. But, if the lessons isolated station at Filton for .the local defence
of the Battle are to be correctly appreciated, of Bristol and the mouth of the Severn). On
due consideration must be given to the factors the 2nd and 4th February I wrote two letters
leading up to the situation existing when it pointing out these limitations, and asking for
began. Leaving out of account peace-time an extension of Aerodrome facilities, Intelli-
preparations and training, the Battle of Britain gence cover and communications.
began for me in the Autumn of 1939. 21. On the 9th February I was told that a
15. The first major problem arose during the paper was in preparation, and that I would be
discussion of the question of sending Fighter given an opportunity to remark on the pro-
Squadrons to France. The decisive factor was posals at a later stage.
that of Supply. Our output at the beginning 22. On the i6th March I received the paper
of the war was about 2 Hurricanes and 2 Spit- referred to and forwarded my comments on the
fires per diem; and, although there were hopes 23rd March.
of increasing Hurricane production, there was
then no hope that Spitfire production would be 23. On the 8th May I received a leftter
materially increased for about a year. It is true saying that a reply had been delayed. The
that certain optimistic estimates had been made, proposals were now approved, and decisions
but there were reasons to believe that these would shortly be taken.
could not be implemented. At that time, we 24. This delay was presumably unavoidable,
in England were out of range of German but the result was that the organisation and
Fighters, and I had good hopes that unescorted development of the defences of the South and
bomb raids on this country could be met and West of England were very incomplete when
defeated with a very small loss in Fighters; but they were called upon to withstand the attacks
there could be no illusions concerning the which the German occupation of French aero-
wastage which would occur if we came up dromes made possible.
against the German Fighters in France. 25. The fighting in Norway has only an
16. I therefore regarded with some appre- indirect bearing on this paper. Certain use-
hension the general policy of sending Home ful tactical lessons were gamed, particularly
Defence Fighter Units to France; but, as it was with regard to deflection shooting, and I trust
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 11 SEPTEMBER, 1946 4545
that the story of the epic fight of No. 263 37. Hitherto I had succeeded generally in
Squadron under Squadron-Leader J. W. keeping the Spitfire Squadrons out of the Con-
Donaldson, D.S.O., near Andalsnes, may not tinental fighting. The reason for this, as stated
be lost to History. above, was that the supply situation was so bad
26. The outcome, as it affects this account, that they could not 'have maintained their
was the virtual loss of 2 squadrons in the existence in face of the Aircraft Casualty Rate
sinking of the •Aircraft Carrier Glorious after experienced in France: between the 8th May
the evacuation of Narvik. and the i8th May 250 Hurricanes were lost.
38. When the Dunkerque fighting began,
27. Next came the invasion of Holland, and however, I could no longer maintain this policy,
the call to send Fighters to the assistance of and the Spitfires had to take their share in
the Dutch. The distance to 'Rotterdam was the fighting.
about the extreme range o f . the single-seater
Fighter, which therefore operated under the 39. When the Dunkerque evacuation was
disadvantage of having a very, brief .potential complete I had only 3 Day-Fighting Squadrons
combat-time, followed by the necessity of a which had not been engaged in Continental
long sea crossing on the homeward way. The fighting, and 12 Squadrons were in the line
Blenheims, of course, had the necessary en- for the second time after having been with-
durance, but they had not been designed as drawn to rest and re-form.
fighters, and their use against day fighters 40. All this time, it must be remembered,
proved costly in comparison with the limited the attack on this Country had not begun;
success which they attained. with a few accidental exceptions no bomb had
28. The iDefiants were used here for the first been dropped on our soil. \L was responsible
time, and, although they proved very effective for the Air Defence of Great Britain, and I
against unescorted bombers, they, too, .suffered saw my resources slipping away like sand in
•heavy casualties when they encountered fighters an hour-glass. The pressure for more and
in strength. As the result of this experience I more assistance to France was relentless and).
formed the opinion that the Blenheims should inexorable. In the latter part of May, 1940,
be kept exclusively for night fighting, if pos- I sought and obtained permission to appear
sible, while I retained an open mind about in person before the War Cabinet and to state
the Defiants pending some experience of short- my case. I was accorded a courteous and
range fighting. sympathetic hearing, and to my inexpressible
relief my arguments prevailed and it was de-
29. Then began the fighting in Belgium and cided to send no more Fighter Reinforcements
Northern France, and at once my fears about to France except to cover the final evacuation.
the incidence of wastage in this type of fighting
began to be realised. 41. I know what it must have cost the
Cabinet to reach this decision, but I am pro-
30. At the beginning of April, 1940, there foundly -convinced that this was one of the
were 6 Fighter Squadrons in France. great turning points of the war.
31. Then 4 more complete squadrons were 42. Another decision, of perhaps equal im-
sent when the fighting began. portance, was taken at about this time. I refer
32. Then on the I3th May 32 pilots .and to the appointment of Lord Beaverbrook to
aircraft were sent—say the equivalent of 2 the post of Minister of Aircraft Production.
squadrons. The effect of this appointment can only be
33. Almost immediately afterwards 8 described as magical, and thereafter the Supply
Half-Squadrons were sent. This was done .situation improved to such a degree that the
under the impression that the loss of 8 Half- heavy aircraft wastage which was later incurred
Squadrons would affect me less than that of during the " Battle of Britain " ceased to be
4 entire Squadrons, because it was supposed the primary danger, its place being taken by
that H should be able to rebuild on the nuclei the difficulty of producing trained fighter pilots
left behind. But this assumption was incorrect in adequate numbers.
because I had neither the time nor the per- 43. After the Evacuation from Dunkerque
sonnel available for purposes of reconstruction, the pressure on the Fighter Command became
and the remaining half-squadrons had to be less intense, but it by no means disappeared.
amalgamated into Composite Units with a re- Hard fighting took place along the coast from
sulting disorganisation and loss of efficiency. Calais to Le Havre to cover the successive
At this time, too, I was ordered to withdraw evacuations from that coast. Then the centre
trained pilots from squadrons and to send them of gravity shifted to Cherbourg and its neigh-
overseas as reinforcements. bourhood, and the " Battle of Britain " fol-
34. I had now lost the equivalent of 16 lowed on without any appreciable opportunity
Squadrons, and in addition 4 Squadrons were to rest and re-form the units which had borne
sent to fight in France during the day and to the brunt of the fighting.
return to English bases in the evening.
35. Other pilots were withdrawn from the 44. The above considerations should be kept
Command through the system by which the in mind when Appendix A (Order of Battle on
Air Ministry dealt direct with Groups on ques- the 8th July, 1940) is "being studied.
tions of Personnel. 45. The Guns and Searchlights available for
36. It must be remembered that during this the Air Defence of Great Britain were arranged
period the Home Defence Squadrons were not as shown on the map which constitutes Appen-
idle, 'but that Hurricane Squadrons were par- dix B.
ticipating in the fighting to a considerable ex- 46. The fall of Belgium and France had in-
tent, 4 Squadrons daily left S.E. England creased the danger to the South and West of
with orders, to carry out an offensive patrol, England, and had necessitated a considerable
to land and refuel in France or Belgium, and modification of the original arrangements when
to carry out a second sortie before returning bombing attacks could start only .from German
to England. soil.
4546 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
47. The distribution of Army Units was, Barrage were continuously the objectives of
as a matter of fact, in a condition of perpetual German attack; they manned their guns con-
change to meet new situations as they arose, tinuously night and day, and I must pay a
and I must pay a very sincere tribute to the high tribute to their morale, enthusiasm and"
flexibility of the Army organisation, and to the efficiency.
tact, -patience and loyalty of the Commander- A report from the 6th A.A. Division, which
in-Chief of the Anti-Aircraft Command, was busily and typically employed, is included
Lt.*Gen. Sir Frederick A. Pile, Bart., K.C.B., at Appendices C, C.A, C.B. and C.C.
D.S.O., M.C., which enabled these constant
changes to be 'made without disorganisation. 51. A short Appendix (C.D) is added show-
ing the number of rounds fired per aircraft
48. In theory the Cx>mmander-in-Chief, destroyed, for the whole Anti-Aircraft Com-
Fighter Command, was the authority respon- mand.
sible for settling the dispositions of all guns
allotted to the Air Defence of Great Britain; 52. On the map which constitutes Appen-
but this was little more than a convenient fic- dix A.A. are shown the boundaries of Groups
tion. The number of guns available was so and Sectors, and also the positions of the Bal-
inadequate for the defence of all the vulnerable loon Barrages, together with an indication of
targets in the country, and the interests con- the front covered by Radio Location Stations
cerned were so diverse and powerful, that it and the area covered by the Observer Corps.
was not to be supposed that an individual 53. The Balloon Barrages had, at this stage,
member of any one Service would be left to had little opportunity of justifying their exist-
exercise such a prerogative uninterruptedly. ence, except perhaps at Rosyth and Scapa
A disproportionate amount of my time was Flow, since bombing attacks against land
taken up in discussions on gun distribution, objectives in Britain had not yet begun. It
and each decision was at once greeted with a was thought, however, (and later experience
fresh agitation, until finally I had to ask that confirmed this opinion), that the heavy cost
all proposals should be discussed by a small of their installation and maintenance, and their
Committee on which all interests were repre- drain on man-power, were on the whole justi-
sented, and I normally accepted the recommen- fied. It is true that their material results, in
dations of this Committee during quiet periods. terms of enemy aircraft destroyed, were not
During active operations I consulted General impressive, they suffered staggering casualties
Pile, and we acted according to our judgment. in electric storms, and had brought down a
One rather important lesson emerged from number of our own aircraft; on the other hand,
our experience, viz., that the general fire-con- they exercise a very salutary moral effect upon
trol of all guns in the Air Defence System the Germans and to a great extent protected
should be vested in the Air Defence authori- the vital objectives, which *hey surrounded,
ties. I do not, of course, mean that, if an in- against low-altitude attacks and dive-bombing.
vasion had taken place, the guns co-operat-
ing with the troops in the Field should have 54. This is not the place to give an account
been subordinated to any A.A. Defence Com- of the romantic discovery and development of
mander, bu* the existence of " free-lance " Radio Location. It may be explained, how-
guns*), the positions and even the existence ever, that the backbone of the system consisted
of which were unknown to me, was an appreci- of a series of large " chain " stations at inter-
able handicap, especially at night. It was im- vals averaging about 30 miles. These gave
possible to acquaint them with the approach 1 > warning, by means of reflected electrical
of enemy raiders, or of the fact that our own echoes, of the presence of aircraft within the
aircraft were working in the vicinity. radius of their effective action, which attained
to nearly 200 miles in the most favourable cir-
49. When the night attacks on London began
to be really serious, General Pile, in consulta- cumstances. The average effective radius was
about 80 but they had the limita-
tion with myself, decided to send heavy rein- tion that miles, failed altogether t'jserious indica-
forcements. Within 24 hours the defences to tions of aircraft flying below 1,000 feet.
the South and South-East of London were
approximately doubled, and the great increase 55. To overcome this disability, which was
in the volume of fire was immediately noticed particularly hampering to operations against
and had a very good effect on public morale. low-flying minelayers, smaller units called
The physical effect in the shape of .raiders " C.H.L. Stations" were included in the
destroyed was by no means negligible, but the protective line.
main effect was never generally known. The
track of every raid was, of course, shown on 56. These had a restricted range (about 30
various operations tables, and on some nights miles), and were incapable of giving heights
as many as 60 per cent, of the raiders with any degree of accuracy; they were, how-
approaching London from the South turned ever, extremely accurate in azimuth, and con-
back after dropping their bombs in the open stituted an essential feature of the Defensive
country or on the fringe of the Barrage. and Warning Systems.
50. The A.A. Guns at Dover enjoyed 57. The Radio Location system was growing
unusual opportunities for practice, with the so fast and had to meet so many calls from
result that their crews became acknowledged overseas that the training of the technical per-
experts in the art of Anti-Aircraft Gunnery. sonnel and the maintenance of the elaborate
Their skill, however, was attained through the scientific apparatus presented great difficulties.
circumstance that they and the Dover Balloon In spite of these handicaps, however, the
system operated effectively, and it is not too
* These guns belonged to Field Force Units. As much to say that the warnings which it gave
such units were, of necessity, highly mobile, their
exact location was not always known to Fighter could have been obtained by no other means
Command. Nor, after a recent move, were they and constituted a vital factor in the Air
always included in the telephone system. Defence of Great Britain.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4547
58. The functions of the Observer Corps 66. There were also subsidiary warnings,
(since granted the " Royal " prefix) are too transmitted by a fourth operator, to close down
well known to require description here. Radio Stations which might assist the enemy's
Suffice it to say that this loyal and public- navigation by enabling him to use wireless
spirited body of men had maintained their Direction Finding.
watch with admirable efficiency since the be- 67. The credit for working out this system
ginning of the war and throughout a winter in conjunction with the Home Office is due
of exceptional severity. It is important to note largely to Air Vice-Marshal A. D. Cunningham,
that, at this time, they constituted the sole C.B.E.
means of tracking enemy raids once they had 68. The Fighter Command was divided
crossed the-coast line. Later experience was
to show that " sound plots," ^which were all into Groups and Sectors in accordance with the
that could be given for night raiders, and air- arrangement shown in Appendix A A. Only
craft flying above clouds or at extreme alti- Nos. n, 12 and 13 Groups were fully organised
tudes, were not adequate for purposes of at the beginning of the Battle. Each Group
accurate interception; but their work through- and Sector Headquarters had an Operations
out was quite invaluable. Without it the Air Table generally similar to that already des-
Raid Warning' systems could not have been cribed at Command Headquarters, but
operated, and Inland. Interceptions would covering an appropriately smaller area. The
rarely have been made. British Isles and neighbouring seas were
covered by an imaginary " grid " which was
59. The credit for building up and develop- used by all concerned for plotting purposes.
ing the Observer Corps in recent years is due An expression consisting of one letter and four
' largely to its Commandant, Ah Commodore digits gave the position of a point with an
A. D. Warrington Morris; CM.G., O.B.E. accuracy of i square kilometre.
• 60. The Air Raid Warning System was 69. Plots from which'tracks could be 'built
operated centrally from Fighter Command up were received first from the Radio Location
Headquarters (with a small exception in the Station, and later from the Observer Corps
Orkneys and Shetlands). (and to a small extent from Searchlight Detach-
61. The country was divided into about 130 ments) after a raid had crossed the coast.
" Warning Districts," the boundaries of which 70. All Radio Location plots came to a
were determined by the lay-out of the public " Filter Room " table at Command Head-
telephone system. These districts were shown quarters (next door to the room in which the
on a map in my Operations Room, and the Operations Table was situated), and, after
tracks of all enemy -raids, whether over the surplus information had been eliminated, tracks
land or sea, were plotted by means of counters were passed -by direct telephone line simul-
.deposited and removed as necessary by a taneously to my Operations Table and to those
number of " Plotters." of Group.*, and Sectors concerned.
62. The counters were of three colours, • 71. Observer Corps plots, on the other hand,
according to the 5-minoite period in which went first to Observer Group Centres (where
they were placed on the table: This was plotting tables were also installed) and thence
necessary to facilitate their removal at the end to Sector and Fighter Group Operations tables.
of 15 minutes, and so to obviate the confusion The tracks were then " told " to my Operations
caused by " stale plots." Room from -the Group Tables.
72. In order to avoid waste of flying effort
' 63. Three telephone operators were in con- and false Air Raid Warnings it was obviously
tinuous communication with the Trunk Ex- very necessary to differentiate between friendly
changes in London, Liverpool and Glasgow, and enemy formations, and this was-the most
and when a raid was within 20 minutes' flying difficult as well as the most important task of
distance of a warning district the Air Raid my Filter Room. Liaison Officers from Bomber
Warning officer would send a message, as, for and Coastal Commands were permanently on
instance: " 10. Norwich. Yellow." The duty, and they were in possession of all avail-
London operator would transmit this to the able information concerning the operations of
London Trunk Exchange, and the London our own Bombers and Coastal patrols. During
operator would immediately retransmit it to 1940 an electrical device became generally
Norwich, where other operators would pass it available which modified the echo received by
on to approved recipients in the Warning Dis- the Radio Location System from our own air-
trict. This was a preliminary caution for the craft in a characteristic manner. This was of
information of Police, Fire Stations, &c., and the greatest value.
involved no public warning.
73. The credit for working out the compli-
64. About 5 minutes later, if the said Dis- cated details of the Filter Room 'belongs largely
trict were still threatened, a " Red Warning " to Wing Commander (now Group Captain)
would be given. This was the signal for the R. G. Hart, C.B.E.
Sirens to sound. A " Green " signal indicated 74. It appeared to me quite impossible to
" Raiders Passed," and the Sirens sounded the centralise Tactical control at Command Head-
" All Clear." quarters, and even Group Commanders would
65. At night, when it became essential to be too 'busy during, heavy fighting to concern
maintain exposed lights in Dockyards, Rail- themselves, with details bf Interception.
way Sidings and Factories up to the last 75. The system was that the Command
minute, so as to obviate unnecessary loss of should be responsible for the identification of
working time, a "Purple " warning was intro- approaching formations and for the allotment
duced. . This was a signal for the extinction of enemy raids to Groups where any doubt
of exposed lights, but it did noi connote a existed. Group Commanders decided which
public warning. •' .. Sector should meet 'any specified raid and the
4548 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
strength of the Fighter force which should be 84. " Pancake " was the signal for the latter
employed. Sector Commanders detailed the operation, and I therefore introduced several
Fighter Units to be employed, and operated the synonyms, the significance of which was not
machinery of Interception. obvious to the enemy.
76. Various states of preparedness were laid 85. The code word for height was " Angels,"
down, e.g., Released, Available (20 minutes), followed by the number of thousands of feet;
Readiness (5 minutes), and stand-by (2 when it appeared probable that the enemy were
minutes), and Sectors reported all changes to taking advantage of this information I intro-
Group Headquarters, where an up-to-date duced ~a false quantity into the code signal.
picture of the state of affairs was recorded by Thus " Angels 18 " really meant Fly at 21,000
lights on the walls of the Operations Room. a,nd not 18,000. On more than one occasion
Various liaison officers from the Observer Corps, German Fighter formations arriving to dive on
guns and searchlights were maintained in one of our patrols were themselves attacked
Group and Sector Operations Rooms. from above.
86. The system as a whole had been built
77. It will ibe seen that the Sector Com- up by successive steps.over a period of about
mander had on his table the ibest available four years, and I was not^flissatisfied with the
information as to the position and track of an way in which it stood the test of war.
enemy formation; -but, in order to effect an
accurate interception, it was necessary that he 87. The steps taken to devise a system of
should also know the position and track of his night Interception are described later in this
own Fighters. Despatch.
78. This was recorded by means of 88. I must now give a brief account of the
R/T D/F (Radio Telephony Direction characteristics of the aircraft commonly
Finding). R/T signals were transmitted auto- employed on both sides. As regards the Fighter
matically for 15 seconds out of each minute by types available in the Command, the bulk of
selected Fighter aircraft and were picked up the force consisted of Hurricanes and Spitfires;
by two or three D/F stations installed in the former were beginning to be outmoded iby
Sectors for the purpose. The readings were their German counterparts. They were com-
passed1 by direct telephone lines to Sector paratively slow and their performance and
Headquarters, and a mechanical plotting device manoeuvrability were somewhat inadequate at
gave an almost instantaneous '-plot of the altitudes above 20,000 ft. The Spitfires were
Fighter's position. equal or superior to anything which the Germans
possessed at the beginning of the Battle.
79. In the more recently organised Sectors 89. The Hurricanes and Spitfires had bullet-
these D/F stations had not been installed, and proof windscreens and front armour between
it was necessary to keep track of the Fighters the top of the engine and the windscreen. They
by giving them precise orders as to speed and also had rear armour directly behind the pilot,
direction, and plotting their tracks by Dead which was previously prepared and fitted as
Reckoning. This method was adequate only soon as we began to meet the German Fighters.
if the force and direction of the wind at various The early adoption of armour gave us an initial
altitudes could be correctly estimated. advantage over the Germans, but they were
80. The Sector Commander could thus see on quick to imitate our methods. While German
his operations tables the positions and courses aircraft remained unarmoured, I think it is
of enemy formations and of his own Fighters, now generally agreed that the single-seater
and was enabled so to direct the latter as to multi-gun fighter with fixed guns was the most
make interceptions with the former in a good efficient type which could have been produced
percentage of occasions by day. Interception for day fighting. With the advent of armour
depended, of course, on the Fighters being able some change in armament and/or tactics
to see the enemy, and, although the system became necessary,, and the subject is discussed
worked adequately against enemy formations in in more detail in Appendix F.
•daylight, the degree of accuracy obtainable was- 90. The Defiant, after some striking initial
insufficient to effect interception against night successes, proved to be too expensive in use
raiders not illuminated by Searchlights, or against Fighters and was relegated to night
against individual aircraft using cloud cover work and to the attack of unescorted Bombers.
91. The Blenheim was also unsuitable for
81. Orders were given to pilots in their air- day-time combat with Fighters, owing to its
craft by means of a very simple code which low speed and lack of manoeuvrability. It had
could be easily memorised. For instance been relegated to night duties for these reasons,
" Scramble " meant Take off. " Orbit " and because adequate space was available in
meant Circle. " Vector 230 " meant Fly on a its fuselage for an extra operator and the
course of 230 Degrees. scientific apparatus which was necessary for
the development of a new night-interception
82. I realised that the enemy might pick up technique. The cockpit had not been designed
the signals and interpret them, but any elabo- for night flying and the night view was ex-
rate code was out of the question if it included tremely bad. Its already low performance had
reference to some written list in the air." been further reduced by certain external fittings
83. As a matter of fact the enemy did pick which were essential for the operation of the
up and interpret the signals in some cases, but Radio Detecting apparatus.
not much harm was done, except when they 92. The Beaufighter was looked on as a
were able to discover the height at which a Blenheim replacement in which most of the
formation was ordered to operate, and the time above disadvantages would be overcome. Its
when it was ordered to leave its patrol line speed promised to be adequate and its arma-
and land. ment consisted of 4 20-mm. Cannons instead
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4549
of the 5 .303-inch Brownings of the Blenheim. single-engined types. Its usual armament was
There was thus hope that decisive fire could 2 fixed cannons and 4 machine guns firing for-
be brought to bear in the short period during ward, and one free machine gun firing to the
which visual contact could be expected to be rear. Our pilots regarded it as a less formid-
maintained at night. able opponent than the later types of M.E. 109.
93. Like the Blenheim, it had not been de- 100. The Heinkel 113 Fighter made its
signed as a Night Fighter (it was an adapta- appearance in limited numbers during the
tion of the Beaufort Torpedo Bomber), and Battle. It was a single seater, generally re-
the night view from the cockpit was bad; but sembling the M.E. 109. Its main attributes
Air Vice-Marshal Sir Q. Brand, K.B.E., were high performance and ceiling, so that it
D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., a veteran night fighter was generally used in the highest of the several
of the previous war, had designed a".new cock- layers in which attacking formations were
pit lay-out, which did not, unfortunately, usually built up.
materialise during my tenure of the Fighter 101. The Junkers.87 was a single-engined
Command. The output of Beaufighters was Dive-Bomber. It had a low performance (top
also very low. speed well under 250 m.p.h.). It'had 2 fixed
machine guns firing forward and one free gun
94. Another-tyge.--which was pressed, into ser- firing to the rear. When it was able to operate
vice as a Night Fighter was the Douglas D.B-7 undisturbed by Fighters it was the Germans'
(now the Havoc). It had low fire power and most efficient Bomber against land or sea tar-
comparatively poor performance with its gets owing to the great accuracy with which
original engines. Its chief advantage lay in it dropped its bombs; but when it was caught
its tricycle undercarriage, which proved very by fighters it was nothing short of a death-
popular for landings in bad visibility. Only trap, and formations, of J.U. 87's were prac-
one Squadron of these was in being when I left tically annihilated on several occasions.
102. The Heinkel in and the various types
95. One Squadron of Gladiators was still in of Dornier (17, I7Z and 215) constituted the
use in the Command. As explained above, the main element of the German striking force.
organisation of No. 10 Group was not com- They were twin-engined aircraft and were
plete, and there was no large aerodrome close generally similar, although the former was
enough to Plymouth to allow of direct protec- slightly the larger. Their speed was something
tion being given to that town and to the Dock- over 250 m.p.h., and then* armament con-
yard at Devonport. A squadron of Gladiators sisted normally (-but not always) of 4 free
was therefore located at a small aerodrome machine guns firing backwards and one firing
called Roborough in the immediate vicinity. forwards. Their radius of action varied with
The Gladiators, though slow by modern stan- tankage and bomb load, but, if necessary, all
dards, were very manoeuvrable, and had given objectives in England and Northern Ireland
good results in Norway by deflection shooting could be reached from aerodromes in France.
in the defence of fixed objectives, where the
Bombers could not avoid the Gladiators if they 103. The Junkers 88 was the most modern
were to reach their targets. of the German (Bombers. It also was a twin-
eng^ned type with a performance of about
96. Some American single-seater aircraft 290 m.p.h. Its armament was generally
were La Great Britain, but the types then avail- similar to that of the H.E. in and the Dormers
able were deficient in performance and fire and it had a slightly longer range. It could
power and were not employed to any material be used on occasions as a Dive-Bomber and,
extent. though probably somewhat less .accurate than
97. The Whirlwind raised high hopes in some the J.U. 87, was much less vulnerable owing
quarters. It claimed a very high top speed to its superior performance and armament.
and carried 4 Cannon Guns. It had, however, 1104. Before beginning an account of the
a totally inadequate service ceiling (about Battle, I must refer briefly to the publication
25,000 ft.) and a poor performance at that entitled The Battle of Britain, issued by the
altitude. It also suffered from a continuous Air Ministry. This, if I may say so, is an
series of teething troubles, and the single admirable account of the Battle for public con-
Squadron equipped with this type was never fit sumption, and I am indebted to it, as well as
for operations in my time. to the book Fighter Command, by Wing Com-
98. It is very difficult to give any kind of mander A. B: Austin, for help hi the compila-
concise description, of the types of Enemy Air- tion of this Despatch. There is very little
craft used during the Battle. The Germans, which I should have wished to alter, even if
while adhering to broad standard types, were circumstances had permitted my seeing it be-
continually modifying and improving them by fore publication (I was absent in America at
fitting more powerful engines and altering the the time), but there are two points to which
armament. The original Messerschmitt 109, I should like to draw attention:—
for instance, had a performance comparable 105. In the diagram on page 7 the speed
with that of the Hurricane, but the latest type of the. Hurricane is seriously over-rated at 335
could compete with the Spitfire, and 'had a ni.p.h. I carried out a series of trials to
better ceiling. Some of them had 4 machine obtain the absolute and comparative speeds
guns arid others had 2 machine guns and 2 of Hurricanes and Spitfires at optimum heights.
cannons. Some of them were fitted to. carry Naturally the speeds of individual aircraft
bombs and some were not. varied slightly, but the average speed of six
99. The Messerschmitt no was a twin- Hurricanes came out at about 305 m.p.h.
engined fighter designed primarily for escorting 106. The second' point is of greater import-
Bombers arid used also as a Fighter-Bomber. ance. I quote from page 33: " What the
It was somewhat faster than the Hurricane, but Luftwaffe failed to .do was to destroy the
naturally much lesfe manoeuvrable than the Fighter Squadrons of the Royal Air • Force,
4550 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
which were, indeed, stronger at the ~end of the are put forward as an honest approximation.
battle"than at the beginning." (The italics Judging by results, they are perhaps not far
are mine.) out.
107. This statement, even if intended only 114. The German claims were, of course,
for popular con-sumption, tends to lead to an ludicrous; they may have been deceived about
attitude of complacency which may be very our casualties, but they know they were lying
dangerous in the future. Whatever the study about their own.
of paper returns may have shown, the fact
is that the situation was critical in the extreme. 115. I remember being cross-examined in
Pilots had to be withdrawn from the Bomber August by the Secretary of State for Air about
and Coastal Commands and from the Fleet the discrepancy. He was anxious about the
Air Arm and flung into the Battle after hasty effect on the American people of the wide
preparation. The majority of the squadrons divergence between the claims of the two sides.
had been reduced to the sjatus of training units, I replied that the Americans would soon find
and were fit only for operations against un- out the truth; if the Germans' figures were
escorted bombers. . The remainder were accurate they would be in London in a week,
battling daily against heavy odds. otherwise they would not.
108. The indomitable courage of the Fighter 116. Our estimate of German casualties, then,
Pilots and the skill of their Leaders brought us may be taken as reasonably accurate for prac-
through the crises, and the morale of the tical purposes; but our estimates of the strength
Germans eventually cracked because of the in which attacks were made is based on much
stupendous losses which they sustained. less reliable evidence. The Radio-Location
system could give only a very approximate esti-
109. Any attempt to describe the events of mate of numbers and was sometimes in error
the Battle day by day would make this Des- by three or four hundred per cent. This is no
patch unduly long and wouHd prevent the reflection on the System, which was not de-
reader from obtaining a comprehensive picture signed or intended to be accurate in the estima-
of the events. I have therefore decided to tion of considerable numbers; moreover, several
show the main features of each day's fighting stations were suffering from the effects of severe
in an Appendix on which our own and the bombing attacks. As the average height of
Germans' aircraft casualties will be shown operations increased, the Observer Corps be-
graphically. I shall then be able to deal with came Jess and less able to make accurate esti-
the progress of the Battle by phases, thus mates of numbers, and, in fact, formations were
avoiding the tedious and confusing method of often quite invisible from the ground.
day-to-day description. The information is
given in Appendix D. 117. Even the numerical estimates made by
no. As regards our casualties, we generally pilots who encountered large formations in the
issued statements to the effect that we lost " x" air are likely to be guesswork in many instances.
aircraft from Which " y " pilots were saved. Opportunities for deliberate counting of enemy
This did not of course mean that " y " pilots aircraft were the exception rather than the rule.
were ready immediately to continue the Battle. 118. Although Secret Intelligence sources
Many of them were suffering from wounds, supplemented the information available, it is
burns or other injuries which precluded their possible that on days of heavy fighting com-
return to active flying temporarily or per- plete formations may have escaped recorded
manently. observation altogether.
in. It might also be assumed that all Ger- 119. This is unfortunate, because it is
man crews who were in aircraft brought down obviously of the greatest importance to deter-
during the Battle, were permanently lost to the mine the relative strengths of the Attack and
Luftwaffe. because the fighting took place on the Defence, and to know the ratio of losses to
our side of the Channel. Such an assumption aircraft employed which may be expected to
would not be literally true, because the Ger- bring an attack to a standstill in a given time.
mans succeeded in rescuing a proportion of their History will doubtless elucidate the uncer-
crews from the sea by means of rescue boats, tainty, but perhaps not in tune for the informa- •
floats and aircraft which will be later described. tion to be of use in the present war.
112. The decisive features of the Battle were 120. My personal opinion is that, on days of
the Ratio of Casualties incurred by ourselves slight activity, our estimates are reasonably
and the Germans, and the Ratio of Casualties accurate, but that they probably err on the low
to the numbers actively employed on both sides. side on days of heavy fighting when many and
Appendix D has been drawn up with these large formations were employed.
points in mind. 121. As has been explained above, few
113. I must disclaim any exact accuracy in squadrons were fresh and intact when the Battle
the estimates of Enemy losses. All that I can began. No sufficient respite has been granted
say is that the utmost care was taken to arrive since the conclusion of the Dunkerque fighting
at the closest possible approximation. Special- to rest the Squadrons which had not left the
intelligence officers examined pilots individually Fighter Command, and to rebuild those which
after their combats, and the figures claimed are had undergone the ordeal of fighting from aero-
only those recorded as " Certain." If we allow dromes in Northern France. These last had
for a percentage of over-statement, and the fact been driven from aerodrome to aerodrome, able
that two or more Fighters were sometimes firing only to aim at self-preservation from almost
at the same enemy aircraft without being aware continuous attack by Bombers and Fighters;
of the fact, this can fairly be balanced by the they were desperately weary and had lost the
certainty that a proportion of aircraft reported greater part of their equipment, since aircraft
as " Probably Destroyed " or " Damaged " which were unserviceable only from slight
failed to return to their bases. The figures, then, defects had to be abandoned.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4551
PART II.—THE BATTLE. 131. A close liaison was kept between Nos.
122. The Battle may be said to have divided 10 and ii and 12 Groups. It sometimes hap-
itself broadly into 4 Phases: First, the attack pened that, in the heaviest attacks, practically
on convoys and Coastal objectives, such as .all ii Group Fighters would be in the air.
Ports, Coastal Aerodromes and Radio Location 11 Group would then ask 12 'Group to send a
Stations. Second, the attack of Inland Fighter formation from Duxford to patrol over the
Aerodromes. Third, the attack on London. aerodromes immediately East of London so that
And fourth, the Fighter-Bomber stage, where these might not be attacked when defenceless.
the target was of importance quite subsidiary 132. Mutual -help was also arranged between
to the main object of drawing our Fighters into Nos. 10 and H Groups. When Portsmouth
the air and engaging them in circumstances as was attacked, for instance, No. 10 would help
disadvantageous to us as possible. These No. ii Group, and vice versa when the attack
phases indicated only general tendencies; they was on Portland or some Convoy to the West
overlapped and were not mutually exclusive. of the Isle of Wight.
123. It has been estimated that the Germans 133. The amount of physical damage done
sent over, on an average throughout the Battle, to Convoys during the first phase was not ex-
four Fighters to_each Bomber or Fighter- cessive. About five ships (I think) were
Bomber, but any such estimate must be very actually 'sunk by bombing, others were
rough. damaged, and Convoys were scattered on
124. I must emphasise, throughout, the occasion. It was, of course, much easier to
protect the Convoys if-they kept as close as
extreme versatility of the German methods both possible to-the English Coast, but one Convoy
in the timing and direction of their attacks, and at least was routed so as to pass close to
in the tactical formations and methods Cherbourg, and suffered accordingly. Later,
employed. it was arranged that Convoys should traverse
125. They enjoyed the great advantage of the most dangerous and exposed stretches by
having a wide front from which attacks could night, and Convoys steaming in daylight either-
be delivered. First a blow would be delivered had direct protection by Fighter escorts, or else
from Calais, perhaps against London; then after had escorts at " Readiness " prepared to leave
a carefully-timed interval, when n Group the ground directly danger threatened.
Fighters might be expected to, be at the end of ,134. Three of ,the Radio Location Stations
their petrol endurance, a heavy attack would in the South of England suffered rather severe
be made on Southampton and Portland. Other damage and casualties. No Station was per-
attacks, after being built up to formidable manently put out of action, , and the worst
dimensions, would prove to be only feints, and damage was repaired in about a month, though
the Bombers would turn away before reaching the Station was working at reduced efficiency
coast of England, only to return again in half in about half that time. The operating per-
an hour, when the Fighters, sent up to intercept sonnel, and particularly the women, behaved
them, were landing. with great courage under threat of attack and
126. Time-honoured methods of escort were actual bombardment.
at first employed. A strong Fighter formation 135. As regards aerodromes, Manston was
would fly a mile or so behind and above the the worst sufferer at this stage. It, Hawkinge
Bombers. When the Germans found that our and Lympne were the three advanced grounds
Fighters could deliver a well-timed attack on the on which we relied for filling up tanks when
Bombers before the Fighters could intervene, a maximum range was required for operations
or when our Fighters attacked from ahead or over France. They were so heavily attacked
below, each move was met by a counter-move with bombs and machine guns that they were
on the part of the Germans, so that, in Septem- temporarily abandoned. This is not to say
ber, Fighter escorts were flying inside the that they could not have been used if the
Bomber formation, others were below, and a need had been urgent, but, for interception
series of Fighters stretched upwards to 30,000 at or about our own coastline, aerodromes and
feet or more. satellites farther inland were quite effective.
127. One Squadron Leader described his im- 136. Heavy damage was done to buildings,
pressions of the appearance of one of these but these were mostly non-essential, 'because
raids; he said it was like looking up the escala- aircraft were kept dispersed in the open, and
tor at Piccadilly Circus. the number of men and women employed was
128. I must pay a very sincere tribute to the not large in comparison with the number at
Air Officer Commanding No. n Group, Air a Station which was the Headquarters of a
Vice-Marshal K. R. Park, C.B., M.C., D.F.C., Sector.
for the way in which he adjusted his tactics and 137. Works personnel, permanent and tem-
interception methods to meet each new develop- porary, and detachments of Royal Engineers
ment as it occurred. were employed in filling up the craterg on the
129. Tactical control was, as has already aero'dromes. Experience at this stage showed
been stated, devolved to the Groups; but that neither the personnel nor the material pro-
tactical methods were normally laid down by vided were adequate to effect repairs with the
Command Headquarters. During periods of necessary speed, and the strength and mobility
intense fighting, however, there was no time for of the repair parties was increased. Stocks
consultation, and Air Vice-Marshal Park acted of " hard-core " rubble had been collected at
from day to day on his own initiative. We Fighter aerodromes before the war.
discussed matters as opportunity offered. 138. It may be convenient here to continue
130. He has reported on the tactical aspects the subject of damage to Fighter Stations other
of the Battle in two very interesting documents, than those attacked in the first Phase.
which are, however, too long to reproduce 139. Casualties to personnel were slight, ex-
here. cept in cases where a direct hit was made on
4552 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
a shelter trench. The trenches commonly in outside the radius of anything aimed at the
use were lined with concrete and were roofed Sector Aerodrome, and owed then* immunity to
and covered with earth; but they gave no pro- inconspiouousness. Most of these were finished
tection against a direct hit, and, in the nature by October 1940.
of things, they had to-be within a short distance 148. Aerodrome Defence against parachute
of the hangars and offices. troops, or threat of more serious ground attack,
140. Only non-essential personnel took coyer; was an important and a difficult problem, be-
aircraft crews and the staff of the Operations cause Home Defence troops w'ere few and were
Room remained at their posts. The morale needed on the Beaches, and the majority of
of the men and women of ground crews and troops rescued from Dunkerque were dis-
staffs was high and remained so throughout. organised and unarmed. The Commander-in-
141. At Kenley and at Biggin Hill direct Chief, Home Forces, did, however, make troops
hits were sustained on shelter trenches, at the available in small numbers for the more im-
latter place by a bomb of 500 kilog. or more. portant aerodromes and armoured vehicles were
The trench and its 40 occupants were extemporised. The difficulty was enhanced by
annihilated. a comparatively recent decision of the Air
Ministry to disarm the rank ajjd file of the Royal
•142. Wooden hangars were generally set on Air Force. The decision was reversed, 'but it
fire by a bombing attack, and everything in was some time before rifles could be provided
them destroyed. and men trained in their use.
143. Steel, briok and concrete hangars, on 149. The slender resources of the Anti-Air-
the other hand, stood up well against attack, craft Command were strained to provide guns
though, of course, acres of glass were broken. for the defence of the most important Fighter
Hangars were generally empty or nearly so, and Bomber Aerodromes. High Altitude and
and those aircraft which were destroyed in Bofors guns were provided up to the limit con-
hangars were generally under repair or major sidered practicable, and the effort was rein-
inspection which made it necessary to work forced by the use of Royal Air Force detach-
under cover. ments with 'Lewis guns and some hundreds of
144. It must, nevertheless, be definitely re- 2O-mm. Cannon which were not immediately
corded that the damage done to Fighter aero- required for use in Aircraft
dromes, and to their communications and 150. A type of small Rocket was also in-
ground organisation, was serious, and has been stalled at many aerodromes. These were
generally under-estimated. Luckily, the arranged in lines along the perimeter, and
Germans did not realise the success of their could be fired up to a height of something under
efforts, and shifted their objectives before the 1,000 feet in the face of low-flying attack. They
cumulative effect of the damage had become carried a small bomb on the end of a wire.
apparent to them. Some limited success was claimed during a low-
flying attack at Kenley, and they probably had
145. Damage to aerodrome surface was not some moral effect when their existence became
a major difficulty. It was possible for the known to the Enemy. They were, of course,
Germans to put one or two aerodromes like capable of physical effect only against very low
Mansion and Hawkinge out of action for a horizontal attacks.
time, but we had so many satellite aerodromes
and landing grounds available that it was quite 151. The main safeguard for Aircraft against
impossible for the Germans to damage seriously air attack was Dispersal. Some experiments
a number of aerodromes sufficient to cause on Salisbury Plain in the Summer of 1938 had
more than temporary inconvenience. shown that dispersal alone, without any form
of splinter-proof protection, afforded a reason-
146. This is an important point, because, in able safeguard against the forms of attack prac-
mobile warfare, Fighter aerodromes cannot be tised by our own Bomber Command at the
hastily improvised in broken country, and the time. Thirty unserviceable 'Fighters were dis-
number of aerodromes actually or potentially posed in a rough ring of about 1,000 yards
available is a primary factor in the " Appre- diameter, and the Bomber Command attacked
ciation of a Situation." them for the inside of a week with every missile
147. Sector Operations Rooms were protected between a 500-pound bomlb and an incendiary
by high earth embankments, so that they were bullet, and without any kind of opposition. The
immune from everything except a direct hit, result was substantially:—3 destroyed, i
and, as a matter of fact, no direct hit by a damaged beyond repair, n seriously damaged
heavy bomb was obtained on any Operations but repairable, and the rest slightly damaged or
Room. Communications were, however, con- untouched.
siderably interrupted, and I must here pay a 152. I therefore asked that small splinter-
tribute to the foresight of Air Vice-Marshal proof pens for single aircraft should be provided
E. L. Gossage, C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., M.C., at all Fighter Aerodromes. This was not
who commanded No. n Group during the first approved, but I was offered pens for groups of
eight months of the war. At his suggestion three. I had to agree to this, because it was
" Stand-by" Operations Rooms were con- linked up with the provision of, all-weather
structed at a distance of two or three miles from runways which I had been insistently de-
Sector Headquarters, and a move was made manding for two years, and it was impera-
to these when serious attacks on Fighter Aero- tively necessary that .work on the runways
dromes began. They were somewhat incon- should not be held up by further discussion
venient make-shifts, and some loss of efficiency about pens. I think that the 3-aircraft pens
in Interception resulted from their -use. Work were too big. They had a large open face to
was put in hand immediately on more perman- the front and a concrete area, of the size of two
ent and fully-equipped Operations Rooms con- tennis courts, which made an ideal surface for
veniently remote from Sector Headquarters; the bursting of direct-action bombs. Eventually,
these though in no way bomb-proof, were splinter-proof partitions were made inside., the
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, u SEPTEMBER, 1946 4553
pens, and till then some aircraft were parked Boats " and rescue launches were extensively
in the open. Losses at dispersal points were employed, and white-painted float-planes,
not serious; the worst in my recollection was 5 marked with the Red Cross, were used even in
aircraft destroyed or seriously damaged in one the midst of battle. We had to make it
attack. Small portable tents were provided known to the Germans that we could not
which could be erected over the centre portion countenance the use of the Red Cross in this
of an aeroplane, leaving the tail and wing-tips manner. They were engaged in rescuing com-
exposed. These protected the most important batants and taking them back to fight again, and
parts and enabled ground crews to work in bad they were also in a position, if granted
weather. immunity, to make valuable reconnaisance re-
153. About this time an improvised Repair ports. In spite of this, surviving crews of these
System was organised and worked*well. With aircraft appeared to be surprised and aggrieved
the hearty co-operation of the Ministry of at being shot down.
Aircraft Production it was decided that Units 157. Our own arrangements were less
should be relieved of all extensive repairs and elaborate. Life-saving jackets were painted a
overhauls, both because of their preoccupation conspicuous yellow, and later the fluorescine
in the Battle s(iid because of the danger of device was copied. Patrol aircraft (not under
further damage b'eing done by enemy action the Red Cross) looked out for immersed crews,
to aircraft under repair. Broadly speaking, and a chain of rescue launches with special
any aircraft capable of returning to its base communications was installed round the coast.
was capable of another 15 minutes' straight Our own shipping, too, was often on the spot,
flight to a Repair Depot: aircraft incapable of and many pilots were rescued by Naval or
flight were sent by road. Small repairs, such Merchant vessels.
as the patching of bullet holes, were done by
the Unit. Two such Repair Depots were im- 158. This is perhaps a convenient oppor-
provised about 30 miles to the west of London, tunity to say a word about the ethics of shoot-
and this undoubtedly prevented an accumula- ing at aircraft crews who have " baled out "
tion of unserviceable aircraft at Fighter Stations. in parachutes.
154. It was also about this time that the 159. Germans descending .over 'England are
final decision was made to relegate the Defiant prospective Prisoners of War, and, as such,
to night operations. It had two serious dis- should be immune. On the other hand, British
abilities; firstly, the brain flying the aeroplane pilots descending over England are still poten-
was not the brain firing the guns: the guns tial Combatants.
could not fire within 16 Degrees of the line of 160. Much indignation was caused by the
flight of the aeroplane and the gunner was dis- fact that German pilots sometimes fired on our
tracted from his task by having to direct the descending airmen (although, in my opinion,
pilot through the Communication Set. Secondly, they were perfectly entitled to do so), but
the guns could not be fired below the horizontal, I am glad to say that in many cases they re-
and it was therefore necessary to keep below frained and sometimes' greeted a helpless
the enemy. When beset by superior numbers adversary with a cheerful wave of the hand.
of Fighters the best course to pursue was to 161. Many of the targets attacked during the
form a descending spiral, so that one or more
Defiants should always be in a position to bring first two phases of the iBattle were of little
effective fire to bear. Such tactics were, how- military importance, and had but slight effect
ever, essentially defensive, and the formation on our War Effort. Exceptions to this were
sometimes got broken up before they could be day-attacks carried out on the Spitfire works^at
adopted. In practice, the Defiants suffered such Southampton and the sheds at Brooklarids
heavy losses that it was necessary to relegate where some of our Hurricanes were assembled
them to night fighting, or to the attack of un- and tested. Both these attacks had some effect
escorted Bombers. on output, which would have been serious but
for the anticipatory measures taken by Ldird
155. The above remarks have carried me be- Beaverbrook.
yond the first phase of the Battle and into the
second; but I find it impossible to adhere to •162. About this time one Canadian, two
a description of the fighting phase by phase. Polish and one Czech squadrons became fit for
The Enemy's Strategical, as well as his Operations.
Tactical moves had to be met from day to day 163. A squadron of Canadian pilots of the
as they occurred, and I give an account of my Royal Air Force (No. 242) had been in exist-
problems and the lessons to be derived from ence for some months, and was one of the
them roughly in the order of their incidence. squadrons which went to France in June to
The detailed sequence of events is sufficiently cover the evacuation from the West Coast. On
indicated in the Diagram at Appendix " D." its return it became one of the foremost fighting
156. Throughout the Battle, of course, fight- Squadrons in the Command, under the leader-
ing continually occurred over the sea, and Ger- ship of the very gallant Squadron Leader (now
man aircraft, damaged over England, had to Wing Commander) D. R. S. Bader, D.S.O.,
return across the Straits of Dover or the English D.F.C., No. i (Canadian) Squadron, now
Channel. Far more German than British crews also came into the line and acquitted itself with
fell into the sea. The Germans therefore de- great distinction.
veloped an elaborate system of sea-rescue. 164. I must confess that I had been a liffle
Their Bombers had inflatable rubber dinghies, doubtful of the effect which their experience in
and various other rescue devices were adopted. their -own countries and in France might have
Crews were provided with bags of a chemical had upon the Polish and Czech pilots, but my
known as fluorescine, a small quantity of which doubts were soon laid to rest, because all three
stained a large area of water a vivid green. Squadrons swung in the fight with a dash and
Floating refuges with provisions and wireless enthusiasm which is beyond praise. They
sets were anchored off the French coast. " E were inspired by a burning hatred for the
4554 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
Germans which made them very deadly oppon- Some of the distances involved were consider-
ents. The first Polish Squadron. (No. 303) able, as for instance when a Squadron from
in No. ii Group, during the course of a month, Wick had to be brought down in the London
shot down more Germans than any British unit Area.
in the same period. Other 'Poles and Czechs 170. The First-line strength of a Squadron
were used in small numbers in British was 16 aircraft, of which not more than 12
Squadrons, and fought very gallantly, but the were intended to be operationally available
language was a difficulty, and they were prob- at any one time. The other 4 would normally
ably most efficiently employed in their own be undergoing Inspection or Overhaul. In
National units. Other foreign pilots were em- addition to this there was a small reserve-of
ployed in British Squadrons, but not in appre- three to five -aircraft per Squadron available
ciable numbers. The American " Eagle " on the station.
Squadron was in process of formation during
the Battle. 171. There was a limit to the number of
165. The Auxiliary Squadrons were by this trained pilots which could be kept on the
time practically indistinguishable from strength of a Squadron even in times of opera-
Regulars. It will be remembered that the tional passivity, because not more than about
Scottish Auxiliaries were responsible for the 25 could be kept in full practice in Flying
first Air success of the War in the Firth of Duties.
Forth. To set off against the discontinuity of 172. A fresh squadron coming into an active
their training in peace time they had the great Sector would generally bring with them 16
advantage of permanency of personnel, and aircraft and about 20 trained pilots. They
the Flight Commanders at the outbreak of the would normally fight until they were no longer
War were senior and experienced. At the same capable of putting more than 9 aircraft into
time, this very permanence led to the average the air, and then they had to be relieved. This
age of the pilots being rather high for intensive process occupied different periods according to
fighting, which exercises a strain which the the luck and skill of the unit. The normal
average man of 30 cannot support indefinitely. period was a month to six weeks, but some
This point has now ceased to be of importance units had to be replaced after a week or 10
because of fresh postings. It is mentioned days.
only because it is a factor to be kept in mind 173. Air Vice Marshal Park found that the
in peace time. -No praise can be too high for heaviest casualties were often incurred by
the Auxiliaries, both as regards their keenness newly-arrived Squadrons owing to their non-
and efficiency in peace time and their fighting famih'arity with the latest developments of air
record in war. fighting.
166. I may perhaps mention the question of 174. It soon became impossible to main-
the Long Range Guns which were mounted tain the to-and-fro progress of complete unit
along the coast of France near Cap Grisnez. personnel from end to end of the country, and
They were within range of our coastal aero- the first limitation to efficiency which had to be
dromes, which they occasionally i subjected to accepted was the retention of the majority of
a desultory shelling. Their main targets, how- personnel at' Sector Stations and the transfer
ever, were Dover and the Convoys passing only of flying personnel and aircraft crews.
through the Straits. So far as I am aware, This limitation was regrettable because it
neither they nor the guns which we installed meant that officers and men were strange to
as, counter measures, had any great influence one another, but worse was to come.
on the air fighting, but they did of course
make it impossible for any of our warships 175. By the beginning of September the
to approach the French coast in clear weather, incidence of casualties became so serious that a
and might have had an important effect if it fresh squadron would become depleted and ex-
had been possible for the Germans to launch hausted before any of the resting and reform-
an invading army. ing squadrons was ready to take its place.
Fighter pilots were no longer being produced
167. About the end of the second phase, the in numbers sufficient to fill the gaps in the
problems of keeping units up to strength and of fighting ranks. Transfers were made from the
relieving them when exhausted began to assume Fleet Air Arm and from the Bomber and
formidable proportions. It was no new experi- Coastal Commands, but these pilots naturally
ence, because the drain of units and pilots to required a short flying course on Hurricanes
France, coupled with the Dunkerque fighting, or Spitfires and some instruction in Formation
had created similar problems in the Spring. Flying, Fighter Tactics and Interception
168. The comparative relaxation in the inten- procedure.
sity of the fighting in June and July had 176. I considered, but discarded, the
afforded a little respite, but units had only par- advisability of combining pairs of weak units
tially recovered and were neither fresh nor up to into single Squadrons at full strength, for
strength when the fighting again became several reasons, one of which was the difficulty
intense. of recovery when a lull should come. Another
169. When Squadrons became exhausted, was that ground personnel would be wasted,
obviously the most satisfactory way of rein- and a third was that the rate at which the
foftement was by means of moving complete strength of the Command was decreasing
units, and this was done when time allowed. would be obvious.
Serviceable aircraft were transferred by air,
and Operational Aircraft Crews (about 35 men 177. 1 decided to form 3 Categories of
per Squadron) were transferred by Civil Air- Squadron: —
craft put at my disposal for the moves. The (a) The units of n Group and on its
remainder of the personnel travelled by train immediate flanks, which were bearing the
or motor transport according to circumstances. brunt of the fighting.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4555
(6) A few outside units to be maintained 185. The lack of flexibility of the Training
at operational strength and to be available system, therefore, proved to be the " bottle-
as Unit Reliefs in cases where this was un- neck " and was the cause of the progressively
avoidable. deteriorating situation of the Fighter Com-
(c) The remaining Squadron? of the Com- mand up till the end of September. This state-
mand, which would be stripped of their ment is in no sense a criticism of the Flying
operational pilots, for; the benefit of the A Training Command; The problem, as I state
Squadrons, down to a level of 5 or 6. These it here, can have no ideal solution and some
C Squadrons could devote their main ener- compromise must be adopted.
gies to the training of new pilots, and, ' 186. Assuming that in periods of maximum
although they would not be fit to meet Ger- quiescence the Fighter Squadrons of the Royal
man Fighters, they would be quite capable Air Force require an intake of x pilots per
of defending their Sectors against unescorted week, in periods of intense activity they require
Bombers, which would be all that they would about ten times the number.
be likely to encounter.
187. It is necessary to start the flying train-
178. The necessity for resorting to such ing of a pilot about a year before he is ready
measures as this indicates the strain which had to engage Enemy Fighters, and therefore the
been put on the Fighter Command and the training authorities should be warned, a year
Pilot Training organisations by the casualties ahead, of the incidence of active periods. This
which the Command had suffered in this is obviously impossible. If they try to be ready
decisive o Battle. for all eventualities by catering for a con-
179. In the early stages of the fight Mr. tinuous output to meet a high casualty rate/
Winston Churchill spoke with affectionate rail- the result is that, during quiet periods, pilots
lery of me and my " Chicks. " He could are turned out at such a rate that they cannot
have said nothing to make me more proud; be absorbed, or even given enough flying to
every Chick was needed before the end. prevent their forgetting what they have been
180. I trust that I may be permitted to taught. If, on the other hand, they cater for
record my appreciation of the help given me by the normal wastage rate, Fighter Squadrons are
the support and confidence of the Prime Minis- starved of reinforcements when they are most
ter at a difficult and critical time. vitally needed.
181. In the early days of the War the ques- 188. The fundamental principle which must
tion of the provision .of Operational Training be realised is that Fighter needs, -when they,
Units (or Group Pools, as they were called at arise, are not comparative with those of other
that time) was under discussion. It was re- Commands, btit absolute. An adequate and
ferred to in the correspondence which I have efficient Fighter force ensures the Security of
mentioned in paragraph 17 of this Despatch. the Base, without which continuous operations
At that time I was so gravely in need of addi- are impossible.
tional Fighter Squadrons that I was willing to 189. -If the Fighter defence had failed in the
do without Group Pools altogether while we Autumn of 1940, England would have -been in-
were still at long range from the German vaded. The paralysis of their fighters in the
Fighters. Spring was an important factor in the collapse
182. The functions of these Group Pools, or of the French resistance. Later, the unavoid-
O.T.Us., was to accept pilots direct from Fly- able withdrawal of the Fighters from Crete
ing Training Schools or non-fighter units of rendered continued resistance impossible.
the Royal Air Force and train them in the 190. Day Bomber and Army Co-operation
handling of Fighter types, formation flying, aircraft can operate when their. own Fighters
fighting tactics, and R/T control and intercep- are predominant, but are driven out of the skj£
tion methods. I realised that the Fighters when the Enemy Fighters have a free hand.
in Francs could not undertake this work and 191. I submit some suggestions by which
must have a Group Pool allotted primarily to the apparently insuperable difficulties of the
meet their requirements, but I felt that, so long problem may be reduced.
as we at Home were out of touch with Ger- (a) Start by aiming at a Fighter output
man Fighters, I would prefer to put all avail- well above that needed in quiescent periods.
able resources into new Squadrons and to (&) Ensure that at Flying Training
undertake in Service Squadrons the final Schools, pupils earmarked for other duties
training of pilots coming from Flying Training may be rapidly switched over \ to Fighter
Schools, provided that they had done some for- training.
mation flying and night flying, and had fired
-their guns in the air. (c) Organise the O.T.Us. with a
" Normal " and an " Emergency "
183. Of course, when intensive fighting Syllabus, the latter lasting for three weeks
began, final training of pilots in Squadrons and the former twice as long.
could no longer be given efficiently, and at the (d) Fill up the Service Fighter Squadrons
time of the Battle three O.T.Us, were in exist- to a strength of 25 pilots, or whatever the
tence. It was found that three weeks was C.-in-C. considers to be the maximum which
about the mimimum period which was of prac- can be kept in flying and operational' prac-
iical value, but that a longer course, up to six tice.
weeks, was desirable when circumstances (e) Form Reservoirs, either at O.T.Us, or
permitted. in special units where surplus pilots may
184. During the Battle the output from the maintain the flying and operational standard
O.T.Us. was quite inadequate to meet the which they have reached.
casualty rate, and it was not even possible (/) When the initiative lies in our hands
io supply from the Flying Training Schools the (as, for instance, when we are planning to
necessary intake to the O.T.Us. deliver an offensive some time ahead), the
4556 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
intake of Flying Training Schools should be obeyed, but I fear that the instinct of duty
adjusted to cater for the additional stress sometimes over-rode the sense of discipline.
which can be foreseen. Other measures were also taken to provide
(g) (And this applies principally to over- rest and relaxation at Stations, and sometimes
seas theatres of war where rapid reinforce- to find billets for pilots where they could sleep
ment is impossible.) 'Let the Day Bomber away from their Aerodromes.
and Army Co-operation Squadrons have a 198. During this third phase the problem
number of Fighters on which they can fly arose, in an acute (form, of the strength of
and train as opportunity offers. This is a Fighter formations which we should employ.
revolutionary suggestion, but it is made in When time was the essence of the problem, two
all seriousness. If then- Fighters are over- squadrons were generally used by A.V.-M. Park
whelmed the Day Bomber and Army Co- in No. ii Group. He had the responsibility
operation units will not be able to operate of meeting attacks as far to the Eastward as
at all. No very high standard of training possible, and the building <up of a four-squadron
should (be attempted, especially in Radio- formation involved the use of a rendezvous
controlled Interception methods: but the in- for aircraft from two or more aerodromes. This
tervention of these units as Fighters, working led to delay and lack of flexibility in leader-
in pairs or small formations, might well prove ship.
to be the decisive factor in a critical situa- 199. On the other hand, when No. 12 Group
tion. was asked to send down protective formations
192. It will be observed that, at the end of to guard the aerodromes on the Eastern fringe
the second Phase of the iBattle, the power of of London, it was often possible to build up big
reinforcing by complete units had substantially formations, and these had great success on
disappeared. We still possessed an effective some occasions, though by no means always.
reserve of trained pilots, but they could be made 200. Because a similar situation may well
available only by stripping the Squadrons arise in future, I think that it is desirable to
which were not engaged in the South and South- enter into some detail in this connection.
East of England.
201. I may preface my remarks by stating
193. The effective strength of the Command that I am personally in favour of using Fighter
was running down, -though the fact was not formations in the greatest strength of which
known to the public, nor, I hoped, to the circumstances will permit, and, in the
Germans. They for then: part must certainly Dunkerque fighting, where we could choose
be feeling the effect of their heavy losses, but our time and build up our formations on the
there was very little indication of any loss of outward journey, I habitually employed four-
morale, so far as could be seen from a daily Squadron formations as a preferable alternative
scrutiny of the examinations of Prisoners of to using two-Squadron formations at more fre-
War. Our own pilots were fighting with un- •quent intervals; but, during the attacks on
abated gallantry and determination. London, the available strength of Fighters did
194. The confidence of the German High not admit of this policy, nor was time avail-
Command probably received something of a able.
shock about this time. The sustained resist- 202. 'I
ance which they were meeting in South-East report:— quote from Air Vice-Marshal Park's
England probably led them to believe that
Fighter Squadrons bad been withdrawn, wholly " The general plan adopted was to engage
cff in part, from the North in order to meet the enemy high-fighter screen with pairs of
the attack. On the I5th August, therefore, Spitfire Squadrons from Hornchurch and
two large raids were sent, one to Yorkshire Biggin Hill half-way between London and
and one to Newcastle. They were escorted the coast, and so enable Hurricane Squadrons
by Fighters. The distance was too great for from London Sectors to attack bomber
Me. '1093, but not for Me. nos. formations and their close escort before they
reached the line of fighter aerodromes East
195. H the assumption was that our Fighters and South of London. The remaining
had been withdrawn from the North, the con- Squadrons from London Sectors that could
trary was soon apparent, and the bombers re- not be despatched in time to intercept the
ceived such a drubbing that the experiment was first wave of the attack by climbing in pairs
not repeated. I think that this incident prob- formed a third and inner screen by patrolling
ably had a very depressing influence on the along the lines of aerodromes East and
outlook of the German High Command. South of London. The fighter Squa'drons
196. As I have said, our own pilots were from Debden, Tangmere, and sometimes
fighting with the utmost -gallantry and deter- Northolt, were employed in wings of three
mination, but the mass raids on London, which or in pairs to form a screen South-East of
were the main feature of the third phase of London to intercept the third wave of the
the Battle, involved a tremendous strain on attack coming inland, also to mop up retreat-
units which could no longer be relieved as such. ing formations of the earlier waves. The
Some Squadrons were flying 50 and 60 hours Spitfire Squadrons were redisposed so as to
per diem. concentrate three Squadrons at each of Horn-
•197. Many of the pilots were getting very church and Biggin Hill. The primary r61e
tired. An order was in existence that all pilots of these Squadrons was to engage and drive
should have 24 hours' leave every week, during back the enemy high-fighter screen, and so
which they should be encouraged to leave their protect the Hurricane Squadrons, whose task
station and get some exercise and change of was to attack close escorts and then the
atmosphere: this was issued as an order so that bomber formations, all of which flew at much
the pilots should be compelled to avail them- lower altitude."
selves of the opportunity to get the necessary 203. I think that, if the policy of big forma-
rest and relaxation. I think it was generally tions had been attempted at this time in No. 11
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4557
Group, many more Bombers would have Fighter ishall have its best performance at
reached their objectives without opposition. stratospheric heights; any such policy would
204. Air Vice-Marshal Park also quotes the result in a loss of performance at lower altitude,
results of the ten large formations ordered from and we must never lose sight of the basic
Duxford into No. u Group in the last half of principle that the Fighter exists for the purpose
October, when the Germans were employing of shooting down Bombers, and that its en-
Fighter-types only. Nine of these sorties made counters with other Fighters are incidental to
no interception, and the tenth destroyed one this process.
Me. 109. 213. There are, nevertheless, arguments for
205. The most critical stage ^of,1;the Battle giving to a percentage of Fighters a ceiling
occurred in the thud phase. On the I5th (determinable by specific physiological tests)
September the Germans delivered their maxi- above which no enemy can climb without the
mum effort, when our Guns and Fighters to- use of Pressure Cabins. Just as the " Weather
gether accounted for 185 aircraft. • Heavy Gauge " was often the determining factor in
pressure was kept up till the 27th September, the tactics of sailing ships, so the " Height
•but, by the 'endatof the month, it became Gauge" was often crucial in air combat.
apparent that the Germans could no longer face Exhaust-driver turbo-superchargers 'have cer-
the Bomber wastage which they had sustained, tain advantages over gear-driven blowers at
and the operations entered upon their fourth great height, and should be considered for
phase, in which a proportion of enemy Fighters adoption in spite of their disadvantages.
themselves acted as Bombers. 214. It must be remembered also that the
206. This plan, although the actual damage initiative always rests with the Bomber, who
caused by bombs was comparatively trivial, was can select at will the height at which he will
aimed primarily at a further whittling down make his attack. We must be prepared, there-
of our Fighter strength, and, of all the methods fore, for the appearance of the pressure-cabin
adopted by the Germans, it was the most Bomber, flying at a height unattainable by any
difficult to counter. Apart from the previous non-pressurised Fighter. (I should perhaps
difficulty of determining which formations explain that there is a height, about 43,000 feet,
meant business, and which were feints, we had above which the administration of any quantity
to discover which formations carried bombs and of oxygen at atmospheric pressure becomes in-
which did not. effective because it cannot 'be inhaled arid a
207. To meet this difficulty, Air Vice-Marshal pressure cabin or a pressure suit becomes
Park devised the plan of using single Spitfires, essential.) Of course, a pressure-cabin Bomber
flying at maximum height, to act as Recon- is inefficient and vulnerable, because it is diffi-
naissance aircraft and to report their observa- cult to operate free guns from a pressure cabin,
tions immediately by R/T. and pressure leakage from -holes made in the
walls of the cabin will prostrate the crew. The
208. A special Flight was organised for this threat from pressurised Bombers is therefore
purpose, and. it was later recommended that .the serious only if we have no Fighters to meet
Spitfires should be employed in pairs, for them, and for this reason we should always
reasons of security, and that the Flight should possess a limited number of pressurised
become a Squadron. A special R/T receiving Fighters.
set was erected at Group Headquarters so that
reports might be obtained without any delay in 215. Various other If ssons were learned from
transmission from the Sector receiving station. the experience of fighting at extreme altitudes.
There is reason to believe that the Germans also One very tiresome feature was that a consider-
adopted a system of using high-flying H.E. 1135 able proportion of ultra-high-flying raids was
as Scouts. Their information concerning our missed by the' Intelligence systems, or reported
movements was transmitted to the ground and so late that time was not available to clim^
relayed to their -Bombers in the air. and" intercept. This made it necessary to
employ standing patrols just below oxygen
209. In the fourth phase, the apparent ratio height (about 16,000 feet). These patrols
of losses in our favour dropped appreciably. climbed to intercept at extreme height when
I say " apparent" because, in fighting at ordered to do so. This cut at the roots of
extreme altitudes, fighters often could not see the Fighter Command system, which was de-
their victims crash, and.the percentage re- signed to ensure economy of effort by keeping
ported as Certainly Destroyed was unfairly aircraft on the ground except when required to
depressed. Our own casualties, nevertheless, make an interception.
were such that the C. Category squadrons,
which I was hoping to build up to operational 216. Another lesson was that the system of
strength again, remained in their condition of using an " Above Guard " should be retained
semi-effectiveness. even when an attack was initiated from extreme
210. Serious as were our difficulties, however, altitude.
those of the enemy were worse, and by the 217. Flying and fighting-fatigue increases
end of October the Germans abandoned their with altitude, and the comfort of the pilot re-
attempts to wear down the Fighter Command, quires unremitting attention. Cockpit heating
and the country was delivered from the threat and the meticulous pursuit and elimination of
of immediate invasion. air leaks are of great importance. Attention
211. The Order of Battle at the beginning of should also be paid to the elimination of icing
November is shown at Appendix E. Cate- on cockpit hoods (which are apt to freeze im-
gories of Squadrons (A, B. or C, vide para- movably) and on the inside and outside of
graph 177) are indicated. windscreens.
212. Increasingly throughout the Battle had 218. A serious handicap, which I have not
the importance of a high " ceiling " been mani- hitherto mentioned, was the fact that the change
fested. It is by no means necessary that every over from " High Frequency " to " Very High
4558 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
Frequency " Radio Telephony was still in pro- distant: fire was therefore effective up to about
gress. The V.H.F. was an immense improve- 500 yards, where the lines of fire had opened
ment on the H.F., both in range and clarity of out again to their original intervals after cross-
speech; -but the change over, which had started ing at the point of concentration.
nearly a year before, was held up by the slow 225. It was very desirable to get data as to
output of equipment. This meant that much the actual ranges at which fire effect had been
work had to be done on aircraft Radio equip- obtained. The Reflector Sight contained a
ment during the Battle, and Squadrons rough range-finder which the range of an air-
equipped with V.H.F. could not communicate craft of known span could be determined if it
with H.F. Ground Stations, and vice versa. was approached from astern, but, in spite of
219. Some of our worst losses occurred through this, pilots, in the heat of action, generally
defective leadership on the part of a unit com- underestimated the ranges at which they fired.
mander, who might lead his pilots into a trap 226. Cinema guns, invaluable for training
or be caugjht while jclimbing by: an enemy purposes, were used in combat also; and many
formation approaching " out of the sun." Dur- striking pictures were obtained, from which
ing periods of intense activity promotions to the valuable lessons were learned.
command of Fighter squadrons should be made 227. The types of ammunition used in the
on the recommendation of Group Commanders guns varied during the course of the Battle.
from amongst Flight Commanders experienced It was necessary to include some incendiary am-
in the methods of the moment. If and when munition, but the type originally available gave
it is necessary to post a Squadron Leader (how- a distinct smoke-tracer effect. Now tracer am-
ever gallant and experienced) from outside the munition in fixed guns at any but very short
Command, he should humbly start as an range gives very misleading indications, and I
ordinary member of the formation until he has wished pilots to use their sights properly and
gained experience. Only exceptionally should not to rely on tracer indications. (The above
officers over 26 years of age be posted to com- remarks do not apply at night, nor to free guns,
mand Fighter Squadrons. where tracer is essential for one of the methods
220. The experience of the Battle made me a taught for aiming.)
little doubtful if the organisation of a squadron 228. During the Battle " de Wilde " am-
into. 2 Flights, each of 2 Sections of 3 aircraft, munition became available in increasing quan-
was ideal. It was, of course, undesirable to tities. This was an incendiary ammunition with-
make any sweeping change during the Battle, out any flame or smoke trace, and it was ex-
and I relinquished my Command shortly after tremely popular with pilots, who attributed to
its termination; but the weakness lay in the it almost magical properties. 8-gun Fighters,
Section of 3 when it became necessary to break of course, were always liable to be sent up at
up a formation in a " Dog Fight." The night, and it was therefore desirable to retain
organisation should allow for a break up into some-of the older types of incendiary bullets.
pairs, in which one pilot looks after the tail These were preferred to the " tracer " proper,
of his companion. A Squadron might be which gave too bright a flame at night.
divided into 3 Flights of 4 (which would limit
the employment of half-Squadrons), or it might 229. A typical arrangement, therefore,
consist of 2 Flights of 8, each comprising 2 Sec- was: —
tions of 4. This latter suggestion would upset Old-type incendiary in the 2 outer guns,
standard arrangements for accommodation. de Wilde in one gun while supplies were
221. The matter is not one which can be limited,
settled without consultation with various autho- Armour piercing in 2 guns, and ball in the
rities and Branches of the Air Ministry. I there- other 3.
fore merely raise the point without making any 230. A discussion on the offensive and de-
definite recommendation. fensive equipment of aircraft will be found in
222. A great deal of discussion took place be- Appendix F. It will be of interest to all con-
fore and in the early stages of the war as to cerned with the Design of Technical Equipment
the best method of " harmonisation " of the of Aircraft.
guns of an 8-gun Fighter: that is to say the
direction, in relation to the longitudinal axis of PART III.—NIGHT INTERCEPTION.
the aircraft, in which each gun should be 231. No. story of the Battle would be com-
pointed in order to get the best results. plete without some account of the Night opera-
223. There were three schools of thought: — tions. It is true that they constituted only a
One maintained that the lines of fire should subsidiary activity in comparison with the main
be dispersed so that the largest possible German objective of fighting us to a standstill
" beaten zone " might be formed and one by day so that Air Superiority might be attained
gun (but not more than one) would always as a preliminary to Invasion. The night attacks
be on the target. did little directly to affect the efficiency of the
The second held that the guns should be left Day Fighting Squadrons, though they had cer-
parallel and so would always cover an elon- tain indirect effects. Although actual casualties
gated zone corresponding with the vulnerable were insignificant, disturbance and loss of sleep
parts of a Bomber (Engines, Tanks and Fuse- were caused; damage was done to factories
lage). where aircraft engines and accessories were pro-
The third demanded concentration of the duced; and the stress of continuous operations,
fire of all guns at a point. day and night, imposed a very heavy strain on
224. Arguments were produced in favour of Formation Commanders and Staff officers, and
all three methods of harmonisation, but in prac- upon the personnel of all Operations Rooms.
tice it was found that concentration of fire gave 232. I had long been apprehensive of the
the best results. Guns were harmonised so that effect of Night attacks, when they should begin,
their lines of fire converged on a point 250 yards and of the efficacy of our defensive measures.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4559
23*3- We relied on daytime interception 240. No Radio Location apparatus was avail-
methods, and on the Searchlights to illuminate able at this time for inland tracking, and I
and hold the Bombers. If they were capable turned for help to the Army, which had
of doing this, all would be well, since the dis- developed for use with guns a Radio Location
tance at which an illuminated Bomber can be apparatus known as the G.L. Set. Within a
seen by night is comparable with the range of limited range (about 40,000 feet) this set could
visibility by daylight. give very accurate position plots, and, more-
over, could read height to within plus or minus
234. The first night attack worthy of the 1,000 feet at average ranges.
name was made early in June and the results
were encouraging. Aircraft were well picked 241. Although these sets were few in number
up and held by the Searchlights and 6 were and were urgently required for their original
shot down. The attack was, however, made at purpose of gun control, General -Pile realised
comparatively low altitudes (8,000-12,000 ft.) the urgency of our need and made available
and the Germans, profiting by this lesson, re- about 10 sets for an experiment in the Kenley
sorted thereafter to greater heights at which the Sector on the usual line of approach of London
Searchlights were practically ineffective. In Raiders, which commonly made their landfall
close consultation with myself, General Pile tried near Beachy Head.
every conceivable method of operation, but 242. The G.L. sets were installed at Search-
without material success. light Posts, and direct telephone communica-
tion was arranged with the Kenley Sector
235. About this time Radio Location instru- Operations Room. Here a large blackboard
ments were fitted in Blenheims and it became was installed, and the G.L. plots were shown at
necessary to develop at high pressure a system intervals of about 30 seconds and with a greater
of operation which should enable Night Fighters accuracy in height than had before been possi-
to make interceptions even against umlluminated ble iby any means.
243. The track of the pursuing fighter was
236. The difficulty of this task will be realised determined by means of the R/T Direction
when it is considered that it became necessary Finding Stations. \
to put the Fighter within one or two hundred 244. Major A. B. Russell, O.B.E., T.A.R.O.,
yards of the Enemy, and on the same course,, co-operated in the development of this system
instead of the four or five miles which were in the Kenley Sector. His practical knowledge
adequate against an illuminated target. and tireless enthusiasm were of the greatest
237. It may be asked why the Searchlights value.
were so comparatively impotent when they had 245. Promising results were obtained almost
afforded an accessory to successful defence at from the first and numerous instances occurred
.the end of the last war. The answer lies partly where echoes were obtained on the A.I. sets in
in the height factor already discussed, and partly the aircraft. Practical results were, however,.
in the greatly increased speed of the Bomber, disappointing, partly because the A.I.
which was about three times that obtaining in apparatus proved to be unexpectedly capricious
1914. The sound locator, on which Search- in azimuth, and partly because the Blenheim
lights mainly relied at this time, naturally regis- was slower 'than many of the German Bombers
tered the apparent position of the source of and was deficient in fire-power. Many
sound and lagged behind the target to the ex- Germans escaped after an initial A.I. " pick-
tent of the time taken by sound to travel from up " and even after visual contact had been
the target to the Sound Locator. When the effected.
speed of the target is low it is comparatively 246. The A.I. apparatus was then fitted into
easy to allow for this lag, but at the speeds the Beaufighters, which were just beginning to
of modern bombers the angular distance which appear in Service. The machines and their
must be allowed for in searching is so great that engines suffered from " teething trouble " to
the Searchlights were generally defeated. an unusual degree, and the adaption of A.I.
238. The first thing which appeared obvious to a new type was accompanied by certain
to me was that a " sound Plot " track trans- difficulties. In addition,, they were operating
mitted from the Observer Corps with a variable from a wet aerodrome at Red-hill, and the
and unpredictable " lag " was good enough development of delicate electrical apparatus,
only for Air Raid Warning purposes and was combined with a new type of aircraft and
much too inaccurate to be of use for controlled engine, with rudimentary maintenance facilities,
interception at night: height indications also was a matter of the greatest difficulty. In nine
were little better than guesswork. The Radio cases out of ten something would go wrong with
Location apparatus (known as A.I.) fitted in the aeroplane or with the A.I. set or with the
twin-engined fighters had a maximum range of R/T Direction Finding apparatus or with the
2 or 3 miles, but it was limited by the height at Communication system before an interception
which the Fighter was flying. If, for instance, could be made. No. 219 Squadron, under
the Fighter was flying at 10,000 feet, ground Squadron Leader J. H. Little, were engaged in
echoes were reflected from all ranges greater this work and operated with great energy and
than this, and an aircraft echo from 10,500 feet enthusiasm under extremely adverse and diffi-
would be indistinguishable among the ground cult conditions.
echoes. 247. It would, of course, have been desirable
to carry out all this development work by day
239. The minimum range of the A.I. was also when faults would have been much more easily
restricted at this time to about 1,000 feet. Below detected and remedied, but the low rate of
this distance the aircraft echo was swamped by Aircraft Serviceability precluded Day-and-
instrumental disturbance. Continuous and in- Night work, and London was being bombed
tensive development work was in progress to almost every night, so that I could not afford to
minimise these limitations. neglect the chance of getting practical results.
4560 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
These, though disappointing, were not entirely Locators. It is probable that if Searchlights
negligible; several Bombers were shot down in can substitute the speed of light for that of
this area during the experimental period, and sound they may take on a new lease of useful
many discovered that tney were pursued and life.
turned back before reaching their objectives. 255. The disadvantage of relying entirely on
Night Fighting Development work was also Radio-controlled methods of Night Interception
gomg on at the same time at the Fighter Inter- is that " saturation point " is quickly reached,
ception Unit at Tangmere in Sussex. and when mass raids are in progress only a
248. A supplementary use was found for the limited number of fighters can be operated.
A.I. by the installation of A.I. " Beacons " Results obtained in the Spring of 1941 show
in the vicinity of Night Flying Aerodromes. that Day Fighters can obtain important results
These afforded a valuable Navigational aid for in conditions of good visibility, especially if
" Homing " in cases where any defect occurred attention is paid to all methods of improving
in the R/T D/F system. the night vision of pilots.
249. Shortly before I left the Command a 256. During the Battle the " Intruder"
new piece of Radio-Location apparatus became system was initiated on a small scale. Night
available in the shape of the " G.C.I." set with fighters without A.I. were sent across to France
the Plan Position Indicator. ' This was an in an attempt to catch Bombers .while taking
Inland-Reading Set which showed the position off from, or landing at, their aerodromes; or
of all aircraft within its range on a fluorescent to intercept them at points where they habitually
screen as the aerial was rotated. crossed the French Coast.
250. The main advantages of this set were 257. I had to leave the Development of Night
that it had a longer range than the G.L. set Interception at a very interesting stage; but it
and it was possible to track the Bomber and the is perhaps not too much to say that, although
Fighter by the same apparatus instead of much remained to be done, the back of toe
following one with the G.L. and the other by problem had been broken. The experiments
R/T D/F. Moreover it was found that in had, of course, been carried out in a small area,
some circumstances the accuracy of the and raiders which avoided the area could ibe
R/T D/F method was inadequate for night intercepted only by previously existing methods;
interceptions. but the possibilities had been demonstrated and'
251. On the other hand, the accuracy of could be applied on a larger scale as soon as
height readings by the G.C.I, apparatus was the necessary apparatus was provided.
less than that obtainable with the G.L. I under- 258. The method is, of course, also applic-
stand that this has now been improved. able to the day interception of raiders making
252. Whatever the exact technical method use of cloud cover, which have hitherto proved
of plotting positions and tracks of aircraft, the extremely elusive; and it is not too much to
object was to place the Fighter behind the hope, that the eventual development of very
Bomber, and in such a position that the echo high-frequency A.I. may enable accurate fire
of the latter would show in the Fighter's A.I. to be opened against unseen targets, so that not
set. The Fighter then tried to overtake the even the darkest night nor the densest cloud
Bomber until it became visible to the naked will serve as a protection to the Raider.
eye. 259. The day may come when every Single-
253. At that time only multi-seaters could Seater Fighter is fitted with A.I., but this is
be fitted with A.I., and therefore, concurrently not yet feasible. What can be done is to fit all
with the Night Interception experiments, Searchlights with Radio-Location apparatus so
methods were tried of using the Searchlights'as that every Searchlight Beam' is a reliable pointer
pointers for Night Fighters, even if the target towards an enemy, even if the range is too great
were out of range of the Searchlight Beam. for direct illumination.* If then the Fighter
Experiments were made with the Searchlights in can be informed in addition of the height of
" clumps" to increase their illuminating the Raider, Day Fighters will be able to join
power and the visibility of their beams to usefully and economically in night operations
Fighters at a distance. on dark nights.
254. A small Radio-Location set was * As a result of the experience gained during this
designed to fit to the Searchlight itself, so as period, all searchlight equipments have since been
fitted with Radar control. This, combined with
to get over the time-lag which was such an intensified training, has made them, since 1941,
insuperable obstacle to the use of Sound extremely accurate.
Order of Battle, 8th July, 1940.
No. 10 GROUP.
Squadron. War Station. Type of Aircraft.
87 Exeter Hurricane.
213 Exeter Hurricane.
92 Pembrey Spitfire.
234 St. Eval Spitfire.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
No. ii GROUP.
43 Tangmere Hurricane.
145 Tangmere Hurricane.
601 Tangmere Hurricane.
FIU Unit Tangmere Blenheim.
64 Kenley Spitfire.
6i5 Kenley Hurricane.
245 Hawkinge Hurricane.
in Croydon Hurricane.
5oi Croydon Hurricane.
600 Manston Blenheim.
79 Biggin Hill Hurricane.
610 Gravesend Spitfire.
32 Biggin Hill Hurricane.
54 Rochford Spitfire.
65 Hornchurch Spitfire.
74 Hornchurch Spitfire.
56 North Weald Hurricane.
25 Martlesham Blenheim.
North Weald Hurricane.
604 Northolt Blenheim.
609 Northolt Spitfire.
236 Middle Wallop Blenheim.
No. 12 GROUP.
Duxf ord Spitfire.
264 Duxford Defiant.
85 Debden Hurricane.
17 Debden Hurricane.
46 Digby Hurricane.
23 Wittering Blenheim.
266 Wittering Spitfire.
229 Wittering Hurricane.
66 Coltishall Spitfire.
253 Kirton-in-Lindsey Hurricane.
222 Kirton-m-Lindsey Spitfire.
No. 13 GROUP.
Squadron. War Station. Type of Aircraft.
219 Catterick Blenheim.
152 Acklington Spitfire.
72 Acklington Spitfire.
249 Leconfield Hurricane.
616 Leconfield Spitfire.
603 Turnhouse Spitfire.
141 Turnhouse Defiant.
602 Drem Spitfire.
603 B Montrose Spitfire.
3 Wick Hurricane.
504 Wick Hurricane.
(Forming or reforming.)
Group. Squadron. Aerodrome. Type of Aircraft.
10 Group 238 Middle Wallop Hurricane.
i (Canadian) Middle Wallop Hurricane.
11 Group 257 Hendon Hurricane.
12 Group 242 Coltishall Hurricane.
13 Group 73 Church Fenton Hurricane.
605 Drem Hurricane.
607 Usworth Hurricane.
263 Grangemouth Hurricane.
4563 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
APPENDIX " C." (iii) Searchlights.
Searchlights were deployed in single light
6TH A.A. DIVISION, JULY-OCTOBER 1940. stations at approximately 6,000 yards spacing
(Note.—This report relates only to 6th A.A. throughout the area, but with a closer spacing
Division. It does not cover the operations of in certain instances along the coast and in
A.A. Command as a whole.) " gun defended areas" where the distance
between lights was approximately 3,500 yards.
Glossary of Abbreviations. These lights were deployed on a brigade
H.A.A Heavy Anti-Aircraft. basis following R.A.F. sectors, and each light
L.A.A Light Anti-Aircraft. was connected by direct telephone line and/or
G.O.R Gun Operations R.T. set No. 17 to Battery Headquarters via
Room. troop H.Q. and thence to an army telephone
A.A.L.M.G. ... Anti-Aircraft Light board at the R.A.F. Sector Operations Room.
Machine-Gun. • The equipment of a Searchlight site con-
V.I.E Visual Indicator sisted of the following:—
Equipment. go-cm. Projector with, in most cases,
G.P.O. Gun Position Officer. Sound Locator Mk. III. In some instances
G.L Radio Location Set sites were equipped with Sound Locators
for Gun Laying. Mk. VIII or Mk. IX. During the late
V.P Vulnerable Point. Summer and Autumn the number of Mk.
F.A.S Forward Area Sight. VIII and Mk. IX Sound Locators gradually
S.O.R Sector Operator's increased, and V.I.E. equipment and 150-011.
Room. Projectors were introduced. Each Search-
G.D.A Gun Defended Area. light site was equipped with one A.A.L.M.G.
for use against low-flying aircraft and for
i. Layout of A.A. Defences. ground defence.
(a) The area covered by 6th A.A. Division
coincided: with the R.A.F. sectors Debden, 2. Enemy Tactics.
North Weald, Hornchurch, Biggin Hill and (a) High Level Bombing Attacks.
Kenley (i.e., the major part of No. n Fighter These took place generally between heights
Group, R.A.F.). Thus the coastal boundary of 16,000/20,000 feet. Bombers approached
extended from Lowestoft (exclusive) in the their targets in close protective formations until
North to Worthing (exclusive) in the South; running up to the line of bomb release, when
the internal boundary marching with that of formation was changed to Line Astern (if there
the Metropolitan area. was a definite objective to the attack). Attacks
(b) Distribution of A.A. defences was briefly frequently occurred in waves, each wave flying
as follows:— at approximately the same height and on the
same course. On engagement by H.A \. guns,
(i) H.A.A. Guns. avoiding action was taken in three stages:—
The Divisional area contained four main Stage i.—The bombers .gained height
" gun defended areas " at Harwich, Thames steadily and maintained course and forma-
and Medway North (guns emplaced along the tion.
North bank of the Thames Fjstuary), Thames Stage 2.—Formations opened out widely
and Medway South (guns emplaced along the and maintained course.
South bank of the Thames Estuary and de- Stage 3.—Under heavy fire, formations
fending Chatham and Rochester) and Dover split and bombers scattered widely on dif-
(including Folkestone). In addition, H.A.A.
guns were deployed for the defence of certain ferent courses. It was after this stage had
aerodromes. been reached that the best opportunity was
provided for fighters to engage.
Each " gun defended area " was based on
a Gun Operations Room: at Felixstowe, Vange, (b) Low Level and Dive Bombing Attacks.
Chatham and Dover respectively. This In the latter stages of the enemy air offensive
G.O.R. was connected directly to n Fighter numerous instances of low level and dive bomb-
Group Operations Room at Uxbridge, from ing attacks occurred, in particular against
which it received plots of enemy raids, which fighter aerodromes (Manston, Hawkinge,
were in turn passed down to all gun sites. Lympne, Kenley).
The armament of each H.A.A. site consisted L.A.A. and H.A.A. employed in dealing with
of the following: 4 (sometimes 2) 4.5, 3.7 or these forms of attack met with varying success,
3-inch guns with predictor. Appendix " A " but in cases where no planes were brought
shows the H.A.A. defences as at the beginning down the effect of fire from the A.A. defence
of August 1940 and the end of October 1940. almost invariably disconcerted the dive bomber
so that few bombs were dropped with accuracy.
(ii) L.A.A. Guns. Considerable efforts were made by Me. log's
45 Vulnerable Points in the Divisional area and Ju. 87*5 to destroy the balloon barrage
were defended by L.A.A. guns. These V.Ps. at Dover, and, though at times they partially
consisted of Air Ministry Experimental Stations, succeeded, excellent targets were provided for
Fighter Aerodromes, Dockyards, Oil Depots, the Dover H.A.A. and L.A.A. guns.
Magazines, Industrial Undertakings and
Factories. 3. Part played by H.A.A. Guns.
Armament consisted of the following guns: Targets of all types presented themselves to
40-mm. Bofors (with Predictor No. 3 and H.A.A. sites, ranging from solid bomber for-
Forward Area Sights), 3-inch, 20 cwt. (Case mation to single cloud hopping or dive
I), A.A.L.M.G. and 20-mm. Hispano. Appen- bombers, balloon strafers or hedge hoppers, all
dix " B " shows the V.Ps. with their arma- of which were successfully engaged by appro-
ment as in August and October 1940. priate method of fire.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4563
The action of the defence achieved success Tilbury Docks, Chatham Dockyard, Sheerness
in the following ways:— Dockyaid, Dover Harbour, Purfleet Oil and
(a) The actual destruction or disablement Ammunition Depots.
of enemy aircraft (see Appendix "C"). This barrage could be employed at any time
(b) The breaking up of formations, thus at the discretion of the G.P.O. when he con-
•enabling the R.A.F. to press home attacks sidered that other and more accurate methods
on smaller groups of bombers. were unlikely to be effective. The barrage
(c) Destroying the accuracy of their was designed for a height of 3,000 feet and
bombing by forcing the enemy aircraft to assumed a dive angle of 60°. 'It was based
take avoiding action. on a barrage circle round each gun site which
(d) By pointing out to patrolling fighters was divided into 4 quadrants in which the
the whereabouts of enemy formations by barrages were placed.
means of shell bursts. The maximum effort from H.A.A. guns was
The following methods of fire were in opera- required from the igth August to the 5th
tion at this period:— October, during which time the crews had
little rest, continuous 24 'horn's manning being
(a) Seen Targets. required at Dover, a " duty gun station"
(i) Each gun site was allotted a zone of system being worked in all areas.
priority and responsibility for opening fire on Evidence is available to show how time and
a target rested with the G.P.O. time again enemy bombers would not, face
(ii) Targets could be engaged by day if orp to the heavy and accurate fire put up by
identified as hostile beyond reasonable doubt gun stations. r Particularly worthy of mention
or if a hostile act was committed. By night, are two attacks on Hornchurch aerodrome when
failure to give recognition signals was an addi- on both occasions fighters were on the ground
tional proviso. for refuelling. A.A. fire broke up the forma-
(iii) It was the responsibility of the G.P.O. tion and prevented any damage to the station
to cease fire when fighters closed to the attack. buildings and aircraft on the ground.
(b) Unseen Targets.
4. Part played by L.A.A. Guns.
Unseen firing at this time was in its infancy
and considerable initiative was displayed in The targets which offered themselves to L.A.A.
evolving methods for engaging targets unseen guns were in the main small numbers engaged
by day or by night. in dive bombing or low level attacks on V.Ps.
•Opportunity usually only offered fleeting tar-
The following methods were employed: — gets, and quickness of thought and action was
(i) Geographic Barrages. essential to make fullest use of the targets
Many forms of barrage were used by different which presented themselves.
G.D.As. but all were based on obtaining con- Success against targets by L.A.A. guns was
centrations at a point, on a line, or over an achieved in the following ways: —
area, through which the enemy aircraft must (a) The destruction or disablement of
fly. 'enemy aircraft (See Appendix " C ").
Suitable barrages for lines of approach and (6) The prevention of accurate bombing
heights were worked out beforehand. Approach causing the bombers to pull out of their
of enemy aircraft was observed by G.L. and, dive earlier than they intended.
by co-ordination at G.O.Rs., the fire from each Methods of firing employed by L.A.A. guns
site could be controlled to bring a maximum as follows: —
concentration of shell bursts at the required
point. (i) Bofors.
Fire was directed either by No. 3 Predictor
(ii) Precision Engagements. or by Forward area Sights; some Bofors were
Method jl.y-Due to poor visibility or wrong not equipped with the Predictor when the latter
speed settings searchlight intersections were method only could .be used.
often made without actual illumination of the The Predictor equipped guns require a 130
aircraft. By obtaining slant range from G.L. Volt A.C. electric supply which was provided
and following the intersection on the Predictor, either from engine-driven generators or from
sufficient data were available to enable shells the mains. Shooting with the Predictor
to burst at or near the intersection. achieved very great accuracy and the results
Method B—This provided for engagement and destruction of aircraft and the average
without searchlight intersections. Continuous ammunition expenditure .proved the efficiency
bearings and slant ranges from the G.L. were of this equipment (see Appendix " C "). The
fed into the Predictor and engagement of target F.A.S. method permitted quick engagements of
undertaken on the data thus provided. For targets although without the accuracy afforded
sites which were not equipped with°G.L. the by the Predictor.
appropriate information was passed down from
G.O.R. (ii) 3-inch 2O-cwt. Guns (Case I).
It w'll be appreciated that procedure varied Some V.Ps. were equipped with the 3-inch
with different Gun Zones, according to circum- 20-cwt. gun without Predictor which was fired
stances and the equipment available. It should from deflection sights; shrapnel was normally
be remembered that all engagements of unseen used. H.E., however, was used for targets at
targets were subject to the express permission greater height.
of the Group Controller at Uxbridge, so that (iii) A.A.L.M.G.
danger of engaging friendly aircraft was
obviated. Lewis Guns on A.A. mountings proved ex-
tremely effective in attacking low-flying enemy'
(c) Anti-Dive-Bombing Barrage. aircraft. These guns were mounted in single,
Special barrages against dive bombers were double or quadruple mountings and were fired
organised round the following V.Ps.: Harwich by the Hosepipe method using tracer ammuni-
Harbour, Thameshaven Oil Installations, tion.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
(iv) Hispano ZQ-mm. Equipment. (6) That G.L. sets sited in an anti-ship role,
A few of these weapons only were deployed i.e., on the top of a cliff, were of consider-
and, owing to shortage of ammunition and able value in detecting low-flying aircraft.
lack of tracer, were not found very effective. (c) It showed the value of small R.D.F.
detectors within the main R.A.F. chain, in
plotting enemy aircraft direct to sectors.
5. Part Played by Searchlights. At the beginning of the Battle of Britain,
(a) Day. 21 G.L. sets were in use by 6th A.A. Division,
•Owing to the close spacing of Searchlight and by October this number had been increased
sites they formed a valuable source of intelli- by another 14.
gence and rapid reports were able to be made (i) G.L. at Gun Stations.
upwards of casualties to friendly and enemy
aircraft, pilots descending by parachute and The main function of these equipments was
other incidents of importance. In addition, to provide data for Unseen target engagements
they have 'been able to provide valuable reports as described above. One other function of these
of isolated enemy aircraft, trace of which had sets is worth special mention.
been lost by the Observer Corps. Two sets were specially sited on the cliffs
at Dover to pick up targets at low level. These
The value of the A.A.L.M.G. with which sets were able to register aircraft taking off
each site was equipped cannot be too highly from the aerodromes immediately behind
stressed, and during the 4 months under re- Calais, thereby obtaining information consider-
view no less than 23 enemy aircraft were ably earlier than could be provided by the
destroyed, confirmed, by AlA.L.M.G. at main R'.D.F. station on the coast. This in-
Searchlight sites -(this includes a few in which formation was reported back to Oxbridge
A.A.L.M.G. at H.A.A. sites also shared). Operations Room by a priority code message
Prisoner of War reports showed that it was not which indicated the approximate number of
generally known by the German Air Force aircraft which had taken off and their position.
pilots that Searchlight sites were equipped with This report was received some 5/6 minutes be-
A.A. defence. fore it could be received through the usual
(b) Night. R.D.F. channels, and therefore enabled the
Controller to order his Fighters off the ground
Tactical employment of Searchlights at night correspondingly earlier than would otherwise
was by either— have been the case.
(i) 3-beam rule, in which 3 sites only This system, which was also adopted some-
engaged the target; or what further along the coast in the neighbour-
(ii) by the Master-beam system, in which hood of Beaclry Head, was of all the more
one Master beam per three sites exposed value as the enemy were heavily bombing the
and was followed by the remaining two R.D.F. stations, which were consequently
beams acting under the orders of the Master sometimes out of action.
The decision to engage was the responsibility (ii) G.L. Stations with Searchlights.
of the Detachment Commander, and no direct During the latter stages of the offensive,
tactical control was exercised from Battery when the night raids on London commenced,
Headquarters. it was realised that the G.L. would be of con-
In the early stages of the Battle of Britain siderable assistance to Night Fighters. was
" elevation " attachment to the equipment
night activity was on a small scale and Search- produced and this enabled height to be ob-
lights had few raids to engage. Some illumina- tained, which in conjunction with a plotting
tions were effected, but throughout it was diffi- scheme at S.O.R., enabled Searchlight beams
cult, by ground observations, to assess the to be directed more accurately on a target to
actual numbers. Frequently illuminations were assist night fighters. The results obtained from
reported by sites not engaging the targets. The this were not completely satisfactory, but they
difficulty of illumination was increased as the •showed the way to the development of the
number of night raids increased, owing to the present system.
difficulty of sites selecting the same target.
There is evidence to show that Searchlight (iii) Mine-Laying Aircraft.
activity, whilst being difficult to measure, forced It was found that the experiments conducted
enemy aircraft to fly at a greater height than in the iship-detector role could be very satis-
they would otherwise have done. Bombs were factorily applied to detecting mine-laying air-
frequently dropped when enemy aircraft were craft which flew in at a height too low to be
illuminated, which were possibly intended to picked up., by the C.H. Stations. It enabled
discourage Searchlights from exposing. accurate tracks of these aircraft to be kept
Evasive tactics by fthe enemy consisted of which were .afterwards passed to the Naval
changing height and speed continuously to Authorities, -who were then able to sweep up
avoid being illuminated rather than a violent the mines which had been laid by these air-
evasive action upon illumination. craft.
6. G.L. Equipment. 7. Statistics.
At the beginning of August experiments had Careful records have been kept of ammuni-
just been completed to determine whether G.L. tion expenditure and enemy aircraft shot down,
equipment could satisfactorily be used as a and details are shown in Appendix " C."
Ships detector. Apart from the results of this
experiment three other facts emerged:— The following points are worthy of note:—
(a) The G.L. principle was of considerable (a] The total enemy aircraft Destroyed, Con-
value when used in conjunction with Search- firmed Category I by 6th A.A. Division during
lights. the months July-October 1940, inclusive, was
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4565
221; of this total 104 were destroyed on seven (b) Other lessons learnt are by comparison
days, thus:— of minor import. Chief among them was the
15 August, 1940 15 great vulnerability of aircraft if caught by
18 ,, ,, 22 accurate H.A.A. fire when in close formation.
24 ,, ,, 10 A good instance of this occurred in an action
3i ., ,, 20 on the 8th September, when a geschwader of
2 September, 1940 ... 13 15 Do. 173, flying in formation at 15,000 feet,
7 M ,, ... 14 approached a gun site South of River Thames.
15 » ,, ... 10 The opening salvo from the four 3.7-inch guns
brought down the three leading aircraft, the
104 remaining machines turning back in disorder,
scattering their bombs on the countryside in
(6) A considerable number of enemy aircraft their night to the coast. •
were claimed as Probably Destroyed and The value of H.A.A. fire as a means of
Damaged. breaking up bomber squadrons to enable them
(c) The total amount of H.A.A. expended to be more easily dealt with by our fighters was
was 75,000 rounds. demonstrated on numerous occasions in the
(d) The total amount of Bofors ammunition
expended was 9,417 rounds. The importance of A.A. shell bursts as a
"pointer" to fighters, even though1 the guns
cannot themselves effectively engage the
8. Ground Defence enemy, was also frequently demonstrated.
Preparations were made by all A.A. defences (c) A somewhat negative lesson was the in-
to assume a secondary ground defence r61e; ability of A.A. guns, however well served, to
Bofors were provided with A/T ammunition, completely deny an area to penetration by
and sited to cover approaches to aerodromes, determined air attack. Evidence, however,
V.Ps., #c. Certain 3.7 inch guns suitably sited was overwhelming that accurate fire, apart from
were given an anti-ship role, and preparations causing casualties, did impair the enemy's aim,
were made for barrages to be put on certain and thus avoid, or at least mitigate, -the damage
beaches. Under the immediate threat of in- to precise targets.
vasion in May 1940, mobile columns of A.A. (d) A rather unexpected result was the high
troops were formed, but these troops reverted proportion (about 10 per cent.) of .-planes
to their A.A. rdle before the Battle of Britain brought down by A.A.L.M.G. fire. It is doubt-
began. ful, however, whether with the increased
9. Lessons Learnt. armour now carried by enemy aircraft thu
lesson still obtains.
(a) The outstanding lesson learnt from this
intensive air attack was undoubtedly the sound- (e) The value of training in recognition was
ness and suitability of the organisation and repeatedly emphasised throughout these opera-
arrangements of the control and direction of tions. Fortunately, very few instances of
the anti-aircraft defences. These measures de- friendly aircraft being engaged occurred. Apart
vised in peace time and perfected during the from the accuracy of the information as to
earlier arid quieter period of hostilities, stood movement of aircraft furnished to gun sites,
the severe test with amazing resilience and this was no doubt due to a reasonable standard
adaptability. No major alterations in the in recognition having been attained.
system were indicated or, indeed, were made It was, and still is, continually brought home
subsequent to these operations.* The way in to the A.A. gunner that, before all else, he
which the activities of the anti-aircraft linked must not engage a friendly aircraft." With this
in and were capable of co-ordination with the thought firmly impressed on the G.P.O., some
major partners in the venture—R.A.F. Fighter instances of late engagement or failure to engage
Command, No. n Fighter Group, and sector perforce occurred. In some cases, had the
commands—is perhaps worthy of special note. standard of training been higher, to enable the
earlier recognition of a machine as " hostile
* This ' statement applies only to the higher beyond reasonable doubt," the number of
organisation, and must not be taken to mean that machines destroyed would have been increased.
no improvements were made in the control and
direction of A.A. gunnery. Chelmsford, August 2, 1941.
H.A.A. GUN DEFENDED AREAS AND ARMAMENT.
August 1940. October 1940.
4-5-in. 3-7-in. 3-in. 4-5-in. 3-7-in. ., 3-in.
15 8 8 7
T and M North ... 32 8 12° 24 4 12
T and M. South ... 32 32 14 28, 20 10
Dover and Manston 12 16 12 16
\Vattisham 4 ' 4
Biggin Hill 4 > 4
North Weald + 4 4 + 2 4
4566 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, u SEPTEMBER, 1946
L.A.A., V.P.'s AND ARMAMENT.
August 1940. October 1940.
4O-mm. (No. of His- 3-in.t Misc. 4O-mm. A..A.L.M.G. His- 3-in- Misc.
Barrels). sauo. Case I. mno. Case I.
Debden, ... 4 3 4 17 — —
Wattisham — — — 8 —
— 4 — — —
Biggin Hill 3 2 — — 6 „ 3
Manston — — — — —
4 4 — 4 4 — —
West Mailing ... 2 10 — —
— 4 10 —
Croydon — — — 8 —
— 4 —
Kenley ... 4 8 — 2 4 10 —3
Redhill — — —
3 — —
Gravesend 4 —4 — — 4 —
— — — — — —
Shorts (Rochester 4 8 3 •—
Detling — — 2 12 2 —
— —• — — — —
Eastchurch 2 IO
Hawkinge — — — — 4
4 4 — — 4 — —
Lympne 2 —
North Weald ... 3 12 — — —5 8 —
— — — —
Martlesham 4 IO 4 II —
Rochford 2 8 —
— — 4 12 — —
Hornchurch — —
3 * 7 — 5 7 — —
Stapleford — — 2
Abbotts — — — —
Darsham 2 7 — 2 8 —
Dunkirk 6 — —
3 — 3 7 — —
Rye 3 6 — 3 ii
— — — —
Pevensey 3 6 — 3 21
Bawdsey — — 3 3
— — — — —
Great Bromley . . . 3 ii
Canewdon — — — — 3 12 —
3 4 — — —
Industrial and Oil
Cray ford 8 — 3 30 3 i
i 2O 4
Northfleet —. — — 16 — —
— — — — — — —
Grain (Barges) ... 2 4 — — 2 34 2 i
Chelmsford 8 .
— 2 21
Murex (Rainhamj 20 — 20 — —
— — — —
Purfleet 14 2 16 2
Canvey ... 12 — 2 — — 12 I —
Thameshaven ... — — —
— 3 —
Shellhaven — 8 — 3 —8 i —
Chatham _ 24 4 3 —
Chattenden — — — — 28
Sheerness — — — — 4 22 5
Landguard — — — — 15
Wrabness — — — — 23
— — — —
— — — — —
Parkeston Quay 10
— — —
Dover —9 — — — 16 4A/T
5 4 —
9 4 —
Tilbury M — __ 18
Southend Pier . . . — —
i —2-pdr — — i — 2-pdr.
•—~ ~~~ •—- —
I.—AMMUNITION EXPENDITURE AND CLAIMS, CATEGORY I.
Expended. Destroyed. per E/A.
H.A.A. (seen targets) 48, MS 161 208
H.A.A. (barrage and unseen fire)
L.A.A. Bofors only
A.A.L.M.G. (at S.L. and H.A.F. sites) Not recorded 23
(i) The above table gives records from September 3, 1939 to November 3, 1940.
(ii) The total enemy aircraft destroyed during the months inclusive July-October was 221.
(iii) The following ammunition was expended from September 3, 1939 to June 30, 1940—
H.A.A. ... ° 2,995
L.A.A. (Bofors) ... ... ... ... 1,919
(iv) All the enemy aircraft destroyed by L.A.A. (47) have been credited to Bofors for the purpose of the
average ; in practice, Lewis guns had a considerable share in several of these as well as in two cases
Hispano (2,941 rounds) and 3-in. Case I (194 rounds),
(v) Bofors average may be still further sub-divided thus :—
With Predictor 179 (3,187 rounds)
With F.A.S. ... ... ... ... ... 232 (6,230 rounds)
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4567
II.—TABLE SHOWING TYPES OF AIRCRAFT DESTROYED JULY-OCTOBER 1940.
HE. Ill 30
Do. 17 39
Do. 215 14
J«. 87 15
Ju. 88 19
Me. 109 80
ME. no 15
Destroyed by day 203
Destroyed by night • 18
AMMUNITION EXPENDITURE AND ENEMY AIRCRAFT DESTROYED THROUGHOUT- ANTI-AIRCRAFT
COMMAND FOR JULY, AUGUST .AND SEPTEMBER 1940.
Day* .. \344 r(^s- Per aircraft.
Night / - '
•/I(26 a/c =~ 8,935 rds.)
Day* \232 rds. per aircraft.
Night f (167 a/c = 38,764 rds.)
Dayf \I»798 rds. per aircraft.
Night / (144 a/c = 258,808 rds.)
* Mainly by day, little night activity.
| Including considerable night activity and large expenditure of ammunition by night.
Order of Battle, November 3, 1940.
No. 9 GROUP.
Squadron. War Station. Type of Aircraft. Category.
312 (Czech) Speke • Hurricane C
6n Ternhill Spitfire C
29 ($) Ternhill Blenheim Night-Flying
No. 10 GROUP.
79 Pembrey Hurricane C
87 (£) Bibury Hurricane B
504 .Filton Hurricane C
609 Middle Wallop Spitfire A
604 ' Middle Wallop Blenheim Night-Flying
238 Middle Wallop Hurricane A
56 Boscombe Down Hurricane A
152 Warmwell Spitfire A
601 Exeter -' -^Hurricane C
87 (£) Exeter ' . Hurricane B
234 St. Eval Spitfire C
247 (J) Roborough Gladiator C
4568 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
No. ii GROUP.
25 Debden Blenheim and Night-Flying
73 Castle Camp Hurricane Night-Flying
*7 Martlesham Hurricane A
229 Northolt Hurricane A
615 • Northolt Hurricane A
302 (Polish) Northolt Hurricane A
257 North Weald Hurricane A
249 North Weald Hurricane A
46 Stapleford Hurricane A
264 Hornchurch Defiant Night-Flying
4i Hornchurch Spitfire A
603 Hornchurch Spitfire A
222 Rochford Spitfire A
141 Gravesend Defiant Night-Flying
74 Biggin Hill Spitfire A
92 Biggin Hill Spitfire A
66 West Mailing Spitfire A
42i (|) West Mailing Hurricane Reconnaissance
605 Croydon Hurricane A
253 Kenley Hurricane A
Kenley Hurricane A
219 Redhill Blenheim and Night-Flying
145 Tangmere Hurricane A
213 Tangmere Hurricane Night-Flying
422 Tangmere Hurricane Night-Flying
602 West Hampnett Spitfire A
23 Ford Blenheim Night-Flying
No. 12 GROUP.
Squadron. War Station. Type of Aircraft. Category.
303 (Polish) Leconfield Hurricane C
616 Kirton-in-Lindsey Spitfire C
85 Kirton-in-Lindsey Hurricane C
151 Digby Hurricane C
i Wittering Hurricane C
266 Wittering Spitfire C
29(1) Wittering Blenheim Night-Flying
72 Coltishall Spitfire C
310 (Czech) Duxford Hurricane A
19 Duxford Spitfire A
No. 13 GROUP.
607 Turnhouse Hurricane C
65 Turnhouse Spitfire B
32 (£) Drem Hurricane C
263 (*) Drem Hurricane C
i -(Canadian) Prestwick Hurricane C
32 • Acklington Hurricane C
610 Acklington Spitfire C
600 (£) Acklington Blenheim Night-Flying
43 Usworth Hurricane C
54 Catterick Spitfire C
600 (£) Catterick Blenheim Night-Flying
245 Aldergrove Hurricane C
No. 14 GROUP.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4569
Group. Squadron. Station. Type of Aircraft.
g Group 308 (Polish) Baginton Hurricane
12 Group 306 (Polish) Church Fenton Hurricane
307 (Polish) Kirton-in-Lindsey Defiant
71 (Eagle) Church Fenton Buffalo
13 Group 263 (« Drem Whirlwind
NOTE.—Two " B " Squadrons, Nos. 74 and 145, had already been thrown into the battle, leaving only two
available at the end.
APPENDIX " F." 8. The Germans soon began to fit fuselage
NOTE ON THE OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE armour to protect their pilots and crews, but
EQUIPMENT OF AIRCRAFT. for some unexplained reason neither side had
fitted armour behind the engines of their
1. The general principle of. developing the Bombers. The back of the engine is much more
maximum possible fire power, which is vulnerable to rifle-calibre bullets than the front,
accepted in all Armies and Navies, must pre- owing to the mass of ancillary equipment which
sumably be applicable to Fighter Aircraft, pro- is there installed. While the back of the engine
vided that this can be done without unduly lies open to attack, the rifle-calibre machine
sacrificing Performance and Endurance. gun remains a useful weapon, and the fact is
2. The 8-gun fighter may be said to a fortunate one for us.
exemplify this principle, and at the beginning 9. The application
of the war its results were decisive against Ger- not, of course, comeof armour to Bombers and
as a surprise to us,
man Bombers, which were unarmoured at that its implications had long been discussed.
3. Our Fighter pilots were protected against 10. Excluding devices such as hanging wires,
the return fire of Bombers by their engines, and exploding pilotless aircraft, etc., I have always
by bullet-proof glass and armour, for their thought that the courses open to the Fighter,
heads and chests respectively. when rifle-calibre machine-gun fire from astern
becomes ineffective, may be summarised as
4. Furthermore, at this time the return fire follows: —
from German Bombers was negligible. They
had concentrated on Performance as the prin- (A) Deliver fire from ahead or from a flank.
ciple means of evasion (a false lesson drawn (B) Pierce the armour.
from the low speed of the Fighters used in the (C) Attack the fuel tanks with incendiary
Spanish War) and the few guns which they ammunition.
carried were manually controlled, and so badly (D) Destroy the structure of the aircraft by
mounted that they were practically useless. means of direct hits from explosive shells.
These facts, in combination with the fire power (E) Use large shells with Time and Per-
and armour protection of our own Fighters, cussion fuzes.
made the latter virtually immune to the fire Discussing these in order: —
of unescorted Bombers, and their casualties in ii.—(A) Fire from
Home Defence fighting up to the Spring of effective but difficult ahead or from a flank at
to deliver accurately
1940. were quite negligible. modern speeds. Fire from ahead proved very
5. The German Bombers had good self-seal- effective on occasions during the Battle, but
ing tanks, and this was perhaps the only im- relative speeds are so high that the time avail-
portant particular in which they were ahead able for shooting is very short, and Fighters
of us. In our development work we had generally find themselves in a position to de-
demanded that tanks should be " Crash liver such an attack more by accident than
Proof " as well as self-sealing, and the drastic by design.
conditions, which our experimental tanks had
to meet had made them unduly heavy and 12. Beam attack is very difficult to deliver
cumbrous. accurately, owing to the amount of deflection
which had to be allowed. The deflection ring
6. So far as our Fighters were concerned, on a Fighter's sight allows for an enemy speed
the wing tanks in the Hurricane were removed of ipo m.p.h., and therefore a full diameter
and covered with a fabric known as " Linatex " outside the ring must sometimes be allowed.
which had fairly good self-sealing charac-
teristics. The reserve tank in the fuselage was 13. The method is effective against forma-
left uncovered, as it was difficult of access and tions, when the aircraft hit is not always the
it was thought that it would be substantially one aimed at, and certainly the Gladiators in
protected by the armour which had been fitted. Norway developed this technique with great
During the Battle, however, a great number success. On the whole, however, Fighters
of Hurricanes were set on fire by incendiary which were constrained to this method of attack
bullets or cannon shells, and their pilots were would have a very limited usefulness.
badly burned by a sheet of flame which filled 14.—(B) The simplest reaction for the
the cockpit before they could escape by para- Fighter is to pierce the armour, but it entails
chute. the use of bigger calibres. It must be remem-
7. The reserve tanks were therefore covered bered also that it is not- sufficient merely to
with Linatex as a matter of the highest priority, pierce the armour, but the bullet must have
and a metal bulkhead was fitted in front of the sufficient remaining velocity to do lethal
pilot to exclude the rash of flame from the damage thereafter. High velocities, in addition
cockpit. to bigger calibres, are therefore necessary,..
4570 SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946
15. The -5-inch gun appeared, at first sight, damage, will not often bring a Bomber down
to be the natural successor to the .303 inch, but with a single hit. Greater damage is done if
experiments showed that the type available to the fuze is given a slight delay action, so that
us in the Autumn of 1940 was practically de- it bursts inside the covering of the aircraft, but
feated by the 8-mm. armour carried in the small delay action fuzes are unreliable in opera-
M.E. 109. It was true that the bullet would tion and difficult to manufacture, and, on the
pierce 20-mm. or more of armour in the open, whole, it seems doubtful if explosive shells are
but it was found that the minute deceleration as efficient as armour-piercing and incendiary
and deflection of the axis of the bullet, caused projectiles, especially as they will not penetrate
by its passage through the structure of the fuse- armour. Another point must be remembered,
lage, exercised a very important diminution on viz., that a drum of explosive shells is a very
its subsequent penetrative powers. dangerous item of cargo: if one is struck and
detonated by a bullet it is not unlikely that
16. Experiments carried out with -5-inch they will all go off and blow the aeroplane
guns of higher velocity in America have given to pieces.
encouraging results, and it is not at present
possible to dogmatise on the subject. It would, 22.—(E) The use of large shells (comparable
however, be foolish to adopt a gun which could to Anti-Aircraft types) from Fighter aircraft is
be defeated by a slight thickening of the armour practically prohibited by considerations of
carried by the Bomber and the aim should be weight if a gun is used. The gun itself must
to defeat the thickest armour which it is prac- be heavy £nd the structure must be
tically possible for the enemy to carry. strengthened to withstand the shock of recoil.
The walls and base cf the shell al'.o have to
17. We have at present no gun of a calibre be made uneconomically heavy to withstand the
between .5-inch and 20-mm. (.8 inch). The discharge. All these difficulties, however, can
latter was originally adopted by the French be- be overcome il' the Rocket principle is used.
cause it was of about the right size to fire an It is true that a Rocket can be discharged
explosive shell through an airscrew of a Hispano only in the direct line "of flight, but that is no
Suiza engine, and was adopted by us from particular handicap to a Fighter. It can have
them. If, therefore, it proves to be of the best a light firing tube, there is no recoil, and the
weight and calibre for an armour piercing, that shell can be designed for optimum fragmenta-
is due to accident rather than design. tion effect. (I have been told that a 3-inch
18. A study of available data might-lead one Rocket shell develops the same explosive and
to suppose that a calibre of about 15-mm. would fragmentation effect as a 4.5-inch Anti-Aircraft
be the ideal, and I understand that this size gun shell). It also starts with an advantage
has recently been adopted by the Germans; but 'over the terrestrial rocket in that it has an
we cannot now start designing a new gun for initial velocity of about 300 m.p.h. through the
this war, and we must choose between the air, which gives it enhanced accuracy. For
•5-inch and the 20-mm. We shall soon get this weapon a " Proximity Fuze " would be
reliable data from American Fighter types in ideal, but, pending the development of this,
action. They have faith in the -5-inch gun. there is no reason why the Rocket should not be
used with a Time and Percussion Fuze used in
19. The Armament of the Royal Air Force conjunction with a range-finder in the Aircraft.
is not its strongest point, and in my opinion
we should do our own Design and Experimental 23. This item was put on the programme
work, and satisfy our requirements without about 7 years ago, and I think it a great pity
being dependent on Woolwich and Shoebury- that it was allowed to drop. True, unexpected
ness. difficulties may be encountered, and nothing
may come of the project, but it is an important
20.—(C) Incendiary ammunition may be experiment, and our knowledge of what is and
fired from guns of any calibre and Bomber tanks is not possible will not be complete until it
have been set on fire by .303 inch ammunition. has been tried.
The bigger the bullet, however, the bigger the
hole, and a small bullet stands a good chance 24. I think that our decision to adopt the
of being quenched before it can take effect. 2O-mm. gun is probably the wisest which we
In any case, the fuel tanks of a Bomber con- could have taken, but to carry increased load
stitute so small a proportion of the whole target efficiently something bigger than the Hurricane
that they cannot be made the sole objective of or Spitfire is needed. The Typhoon with
attack; and it seems that the adoption of a 2,000 h.p. should be ideal when it has been
large-calibre gun and the use of a proportion given an adequate ceiling.
of incendiary ammunition therein will afford 25. In the meantime the Hurricane must be
a satisfactory compromise. somewhat overloaded with 4 Cannons, and
21—(D) It was assumed by the French that mixed armament (2 Cannons and 4 Brownings)
the 20-mm. shell would be effective against the in the Spitfire is merely a compromise neces-
structure of modern aircraft. I do not know sitated by loading conditions. Might not the
what trials they carried out, but the tests done high-velocity American -5-inch gun prove a
by us at Shoeburyness and Orfordness indicate suitable armament for the small fighter?
that the effect of a 2O-mm. shell exploring 26. As regards ammunition for the 20-mm.
instantaneously on the surface of an aircraft is gun, the so-called " solid " bullet was merely
almost negligible, except in a small percentage a cheap steel bullet produced by the French for
of lucky strikes. The normal effect is that a practice purposes. Its mass and velocity have
hole of about 6-inch diameter is blown in the enabled it hitherto to smash through armour
surface, and that the effect at any distance is to which it has been opposed, but an improved
nil, since the shell is blown almost into dust. design will probably be needed before long;
Occasionally the fuze penetrates and does some doubtless the matter is receiving attention. I
damage, but this is slight in comparison with understand that the incendiary bullet-^-the
the total weight of the shell. Even the big equivalent of the de Wilde -303-inch—has been
37-mm. shell, though it may be spectacular giving good results.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, n SEPTEMBER, 1946 4571
27. One. other attribute of a naked steel bullet 30. The situation will be quite different,
must not be overlooked, viz., its incendiary however, if turrets with .5-inch guns are com-
effect "when it strikes a ferrous structure. monly u§ed in Bombers. The Bomber has the
During ground trials a Blenheim was set on fire comparative advantage over the pursuing
by the second hit from a " solid " bullet. Un- Fighter of firing '' down-wind " (one may get
fortunately, German aircraft do not normally
contain much iron or steel. a clear idea of the situation by imagining both
aircraft to be anchored in space, with a
28. If we look into the not too distant future, 30o-m.p.h. wind blowing from the Bomber to
I think we shall find that an additional and the Fighter). The result is likely to be that
quite different reason may arise for the adoption effective armouring of Fighters against return
of the high-velocity gun with a comparatively fire will be impossible, and fighting ranges in
heavy projectile. I refer to the increasing inten-
sity and effect of return fire from Bombers. good visibility may be considerably lengthened.
29. Our Fighters are protected to a very In such circumstances high velocity, flat trajec-
large degree from the return fire of Bombers tory and a heavy projectile will attain increas-
which they attack from astern, so long as they ing importance; attention will also have-to be
have to sustain the impact only of rifle-calibre paid to accurate methods of sighting, and
bullets. allowance for gravity drop.
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