Author Topic: Flight, damage, and fire, oh my!  (Read 535 times)

Offline AKA_Knutsac

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Flight, damage, and fire, oh my!
« on: December 08, 2013, 08:21:17 am »

“My first experience in blacking out occurred the first time I tried to loop in a Spitfire.  I was cruising along at about two hundred eighty and drew the control stick back about an inch, rather abruptly, to start my loop.  Instantly the airplane surged upward in response, so hard that I was jammed down in the seat…and a misty, yellowish gray curtain closed off my vision!  I eased the stick forward again to stop the change in direction and my sight came back instantly.  I saw that I had raised the nose of the plane only a few degrees...n looping I found that I had to ease the nose up ever so slowly at first until the speed had dropped to around two hundred, after which I could pull the plane around quite fast without blacking out.” (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 17-18)

“We climbed on above thirty thousand.  The air at that altitude is so thin that even these high-powered machines lose most of their beautiful flying qualities.  Controls work very easily and the airplane responds to them only sluggishly, as a car responds to the steering wheel on ice, instead of with the rigid alertness one gets accustomed to in these machines at normal altitudes.  The powerful engine becomes lazy too.  Somehow the air one is riding on feels terribly unsubstantial…a feeling that he and his machine are on the verge of losing what little support the air gives up there…”  (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 124-125)

Taking Hits

“The next thing that happened was a horrid thump as the bullets and cannon shells hit my aircraft.”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942;Pg 53)

“My lovely Spitfire was riddled with machine-gun bullets and cannon shell.  At the moment the bullets struck my machine, I felt as if some giant had hit me with a large hammer.  The impact was so great that it seemed to throw the machine forward.  I felt a terrific smack in the back, and the stick jerked right out of my hand.  At the same moment black fumes and smell of cordite filled the cockpit.  Owing to holes in the bottom of the cockpit all manner of dust had blown up into my face and eyes.”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942; Pg 124)

“Suddenly, there were tracer bullets whistling past my hood and one or two of the now well-recognized bangs about the aircraft which told me that I had once more been shot-up.”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942;Pg 58)

“…when I felt a judder of some Hun’s slugs going into my machine.  Next moment a cannon shell burst on the starboard wing root, and at the same instant there was a damned unpleasant feeling in my leg…[t]here was no two ways about it, I’d been stung again…”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942; Pg172-173)

“A shell burst just beneath me and I heard a muffled bang as an assortment of bits came up through my port wing.  The aircraft jerked from the shock…”  (“Fighter Pilot” by Paul Richey; 1941; Pg 136)

“I heard several pops and saw more holes appear in both my wings.  I was astonished to hear a loud bang as a cannon-shell opened a decent-sized hole in my port wing.” (“Fighter Pilot” by Paul Richey; 1941; Pg 136)

“…I saw a sudden flash of tracer very close, and in the same second heard several pops, then a deafening “Bang!” in my right ear.”  (“Fighter Pilot” by Paul Richey; 1941; Pg 137)

“I heard a sharp metallic bang…obviously a bullet from the German rear gunner.”  (“Spitfire: The experiences of a Battle of Britain fighter pilot” by Brian Lane; 1942; Pg 85)

“…I first experienced the frightening noise of cannon shells striking my aircraft…his first burst hit the starboard wing with a cannon shell.  My Spitfire flicked on to its back…and it took me a few thousand feet to recover.  I managed to land safely despite a punctured tyre and a gaping hole in my wing which had made the aircraft difficult to fly.”  (“Nine Lives” by Alan Deere; 1959; Pg 60)

“Powp!  It sounded exactly as if some one had blown up a big paper sack and burst it behind my ears; and it shook the plane and was followed by a noise like hail on a tin roof…it was an exploding cannon shell…”  (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 40)

“Powp!!Powp!!  The familiar sound of exploding cannon shells wracked my eardrums and my plane shook.  Shrapnel banged and rattled…”  (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 70)


“…I felt a terrific explosion which knocked the control stick from my hand, and the whole machine quivered like a stricken animal.  In a second the cockpit was a mass of flames: instinctively, I reached up to open the hood.  It would not move.  I tore off my straps and managed to force it back; but this took time, and when I dropped back into the seat and reached for the stick in an effort to turn the plane on its back, the heat was so intense that I could feel myself going.  I remember a second of sharp agony, remember thinking ‘so this is it!’ and putting both hands to my eyes.  Then I passed out.”  (“The Last Enemy” by Richard Hillary; 1942)

“…I was flying down head-on at a 110 which was climbing up to me.  We both fired – and I thought I had left it too late and we would collide.  I pushed the stick forward violently.  There was a stunning explosion right in front of me…[m]y aircraft seemed to be falling, limp on the controls.  Then, as black smoke poured out of the nose and enveloped the hood, and a hot blast and a flicker of flame crept into the dark cockpit, I said ‘Come on – out you go!’...”  “Fighter Pilot” by Paul Richey; 1941; Pg 91-92)

“Smoke from an incendiary bullet was curling up beside me.  It was lodged in the frame…and smoldering there.”  (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 71)

“Smoke trails of tracer bullets appeared right inside the cockpit…I remember seeing the bright flash of an incendiary bullet going past my leg and into the gas tank…[a] light glowed in the bottom of the fuselage, somewhere up in front.  Then a little red tongue of flame licked out…from under the gas tank in front of my feet and curled up the side of it and became a hot little bonfire in one corner of the cockpit.  I…started to climb out just as the whole cockpit became a furnace.”  (“Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire” by Arthur Donahue; 1941; Pg 72)

“Flames from the oil tank were bouncing about in the corner of the cockpit, and spurred me to greater efforts.”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942; Pg 110)

“…I’d made that unforgivable mistake of not watching my own tail.  The machine shuddered and there was an explosion, the hood fell to bits, and my instruments began to fall apart.  Petrol began gushing into the cockpit.  I stamped my left foot down on the rudder and pulled the stick back hard and then reversed the process and streaked down towards the ground.  The petrol was getting in my eyes, I couldn’t see a thing…I was soaked to the skin and my neck was hurting like hell.  I expect I’d been hit again, but by now all I was concerned with was getting out of that machine just as quickly as I could…I whipped my goggles off and tried rubbing the petrol out of my eyes, but that only made it worse…I whipped my oxygen mask off and got a mouthful of petrol…I opened the hood and pushed my face out over the side and hoped for the best…f it’d caught fire and even if I baled-out, I would have been burnt to a cinder, my clothes and parachute being by now absolutely saturated in petrol…I started throttling back with a nasty feeling that sparks, which usually occurs as one throttles back, might set the machine alight.  If they did, there wasn’t a hope in hell…we landed with a hell of a thud! …I felt absolutely frozen with my bath in petrol, so I started climbing out.”  (“Ten Fighter Boys”; 1942; Pg 174-176)