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Spitfire Story

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plncraze

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Victor Bravo

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I believe those were Boulton-Paul Defiants in one of the photos or paintings, being credited as Hurricanes. Otherwise the story is fantastic!

ONCE this story is "vetted" and verified as accurate... Any and all of you schoolteachers on HBA, or anyone who knows a schoolteacher, please consider using this story as a classroom example.
 

Hephaestus

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I believe those were Boulton-Paul Defiants in one of the photos or paintings, being credited as Hurricanes. Otherwise the story is fantastic!

ONCE this story is "vetted" and verified as accurate... Any and all of you schoolteachers on HBA, or anyone who knows a schoolteacher, please consider using this story as a classroom example.
There's a BBC documentary on it. It's been vetted.
 

pictsidhe

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This is a new version of an old tale. The tale I have seen in numerous places is as follows:

Captain Hill had noticed that combat was happening at ever increasing speeds, and with armour beginning to be used. He concluded that in order for future high speed combat to be successful, a lot more firepower would be needed. He did calculations with the aid of his daughter to see what would be probably needed and the numbers said 8 machine guns. With the aid of some contacts, he procured an old aircraft, put it on a range, and tried the relatively short burst that he thought was likely in 'modern' combat. The old plane died...
He then went to the ministry and with the numbers and test data and persuaded them that they should specify 8 guns for any new fighters.
The Spitfire and Hurricane were already well into their design work. The Hurricane, with it's big wing, was fairly easily adapted to 8 guns, in groups of 4 per wing. This tight grouping and the Hurricane's manoueverabilty made it quite an oponent to both enemy fighters and bombers. Mitchel's Spitfire design team had a harder time adding more guns to the Spitfire's much thinner wing. They ended up being more spread out. This made a Spitfire burst less destructive than a Hurricane burst. Against fighters, it's excellent manoueverabilty made up the deficit and the two were equally deadly to enemy fighters. But the Spitfire was not as good against bombers, which needed a lot more accurately placed lead.

Later on, the Hurricane got up to 12 machine guns or 4 cannon or a combination which made it quite fearsome to anyone caught in front of one. The Spitfire was only able to take 2 cannon

I am highly dubious that Captain and Miss Hill did any the work of designing actual gun implementations that would have been a normal job for the Hawker and Supermarine designers.

An article that has Defiants captioned as Hurricanes is possibly not the most reliable...

TLDR: Captain and Miss Hill determined how many guns were needed, the aircraft manufacturers then implemented the resultant new ministry specification.
 

Saville

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I don't know whether or not the Captain and Miss Hill did those calculations.

But research regarding the 8 guns was done covered in "Most Dangerous Enemy" by Stephen Bungay an absolutely fantastic book about the BoB and one I strongly recommend.


Chapter 5 "The Fighters"

Direct research was done by one Squadron Leader Ralph Sorley in 1933 who was posted to the Operational Requirements Branch at the Air Ministery.

"His starting point was his own experience:

"Like so many others, I had spent many years trying to hit targets with one, two, or even four machine guns, an dI confess with singularly poor results......I guessed that if one could hold the sight on for longer than two seconds, that was better than average. We w3ere now going to have to hold it on at appreciably higher speeds so the average sight might be even less than 2 seconds."

.........

" By dint of much blotting paper, arithmetic and burning of midnight oil, I reached the answer of 8 guns as being the number required to give a lethal dose in 2 seconds of fire...."

All this "..implied the need for a flying gun-platform quite unlike the design of any aeroplane then in service.

.....
Aware of the implications [on fighter design] of his theory, Sorley kept it quiet until he had tested it in practice.....

..he got a hold of an old aircraft and set it up on a firing range. He fired at it with eight guns from a range of 400 yards and cut through the structure in so many vulnerable places that it was clear that two seconds were indeed lethal.

...Sorely approached Dowding..and tell him of the implications....Dowding told him he had already placed an order for two experimental monoplanes."

These were specification F.36/34 and F.37/34 (Expeerimental High Speed Single Seat Fighter"

Sorely visits Hawker and Supermarine and discovered that they both had been intending to install 4 guns - they now "enthusiastically turned their thoughts to putting eight guns in the wings..."

So this was all done in 1934: the idea, the calculations and experiments on the firing range by Sorley.

Doesn't mean that the Hills didn't do the work. But the description in the article almost exactly matches the one in the book.
 
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