Out of the fifty people I spoke to, roughly 45 of them said the Spitfire, with most of it being almost instantaneous. Freeborn’s methods upset some of his fellow pilots. The Spitfire was armed with four .303 machine guns and two 20mm cannons, while the Hurricane carried four 20mm cannons. You couldn’t stop him—too big and strong.”. As usual, I asked several different groups about their opinions on both the Spitfire and the Hurricane. Hurricane was slower, hence it have problem to take the initiative against 109. A short while later he spotted what he took to be a Luftwaffe bomber and closed in for the kill. If you were interested in owning and operating a Hawker Hurricane (from WWII) you’d be looking at an aircraft that costs around £3,000 ($5,000) to operate per hour, including maintenance. One of their conversations resulted in abandonment of the Vic formation of three aircraft in favor of the finger-four formation. According to him, despite the aircraft being slower on paper, it was faster than German Bf.109s and Spitfires. I was again attacked from astern by a 110…and I took decisive action coming up under him and sending a long burst into his tailplane. On top of this, the Spitfire has a slightly higher service ceiling, although, this doesn’t make much of a difference. “I made a sharp turn and got directly onto an E/A [enemy aircraft] which I gave a short burst of 2/3 secs and E/A turned and went down. POWs Roger Bushell and Vincent “Paddy” Byrne flank a Luftwaffe guard at Luft Stalag III before the “Great Escape.” (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association), Malan, who reportedly described Freeborn’s actions as “impetuous,” confirmed he had given the order to engage but also claimed that moments later, on realizing his mistake, he had called “friendly aircraft—break away!” Freeborn, Byrne and Flinders all said they never heard the counterorder. “I would sometimes fly quite close to frighten them, so close the slipstream would hit them and it would blow the parachute all over the place. Throughout the war, many fighter aircraft also became interceptor aircraft. I went over in ‘40. “I was very sorry about it, but it was Malan’s fault. Personally, I am British, and have grown up hearing stories about both the Spitfire and the Hurricane, both in my history classes at school and from my father’s military friends. However, we also need to look at something else: cost. He was neither well-connected nor had he been to the right school, important factors in the class-conscious higher echelons of the wartime RAF. The role of WWII fighter aircraft differ greatly from modern fighter aircraft. While less heralded than the famed Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane scored the majority of the RAF's kills during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Freeborn and Malan remained in 74 Squadron despite their mutual dislike. The RAF and Supermarine made a few tweaks to the K5054 before calling it the Spitfire. He was a bully.”. The Luftwaffe tactics … Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. The two men were ferociously strong characters, and the two best pilots in the squadron, as they proved once the Phoney War ended and Germany invaded the Low Countries in May 1940. Although many others simply spoke about how iconic they were! Their collaboration bore fruit on August 11 when the squadron flew into combat four times between dawn and 1400, accounting for 23 enemy aircraft, one probable and 14 damaged. “A daft way to die,” reflected Freeborn of his best friend. In terms of the cost to operate the Spitfire, it costs roughly £2,000 ($2,500) per hour to operate an original Spitfire, or £1,800 ($2,300) for a replica. However, I decided to solely ask members of the British public, instead of people from both the UK and US. The Hurricane might not have been as fast or as beautiful as the Spitfire, but it had a host of other virtues. Zero - by Greg_P Here is an original WII report from Clive "Killer" Caldwell about this very subject: Section 1: Fighter Tactics. The remaining people spoke about how the Hurricane was the workhorse of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. One of his sergeant pilots, Bill Skinner, recounted how a Junkers Ju-88A was shot down over France in May 1940: “The Nazi crew were seen to get out and shake their fists at us. That proved too much for John Freeborn. Other Spitfire squadrons were placed strategically in the South of England. During the war, my grandfather had served as a Hurricane pilot, flying between 1943 and 1945. Hawker was one of the manufacturers to do so. “I took off and went so bloody fast!” he said. This is alongside the Japanese Zero, Soviet Yak-3, North American P-51, German Bf.109 and the French Caudron C.714. He spent a year in the U.S., during which he fell in love with the P-51 Mustang, his favorite of all the aircraft he flew. The final time we spoke I asked him what it was that had made him such a good pilot. What hadn’t dulled over the years was his character: Like many Yorkshiremen he was forthright, funny and fearless in what he said. The Hurricane was the principal fighter in the Battle of Britain, not the Spitfire as most people think. During this time, both aircraft served alongside one another in combat, with people often wondering which was better. (Imperial War Museum CH158). The terrified golfers were a pair of wing commanders, and Freeborn received a reprimand for his prank. However, as I have grown older, I have found myself preferring the Hurricane more with each passing year. 940: RAF Hurricanes Spitfires August 21st 1940 615 326 August 30th 1940 580 287 September 8th 1940 530 275 September 15th 1940 472 256 October 2nd 1940 482 281 October 18th 1940 512 285 Battle of Britain RAF losses – July Destroyed Damaged Pilots killed Pilots missing Pilots wounded Hurricane 33 17 23 0 11 … They couldn’t have cared less. Hurricanes from 151 Squadron had also been scrambled, and Sqd. Several others preferred the Hurricane. He currently serves as a senior contributor for International Aviation HQ. A Hawker Hurricane Mk. However, when the British were on their knees in 1941, the role of fighter aircraft and interceptor were one in the same. Following the British victory in the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were dispatched to deal with German forces. Malan wasn’t liked. ABILITY TO UPGRADE . The Mark I Hurricane of 1939-40 could reach 325 mph, and 35,000 feet, compared to the Spitfire’s 360 mph, and the Spitfire had a better rate of climb. Suddenly Malan’s voice called over the radio: “Tally-ho! Many of the people I interviewed stated this fact as well. He was in B Flight, commanded by Treacy, as was another Irishman, Byrne. He gave us the order to attack and we attacked. Number one attack. “Malan was just married, always broke, always borrowing money,” he said. Yellow Section—Flying Officer Vincent “Paddy” Byrne; his no. Written for Malan by some actor friend of his who wrote for films.”, Freeborn died in 2010, the last of 74 Squadron’s Battle of Britain aces. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hurricane are renowned for their part in defending Britain against the Luftwaffe; generally, the Spitfire would intercept the German fighters, leaving Hurricanes to concentrate on the bombers, but, despite the undoubted abilities of the "thoroughbred" Spitfire, it was the "workhorse" Hurricane that scored the higher number of RAF victories during this period, accounting … Hurricane : Spitfire : Specifications: Span: 40 ft. 30 ft. Perhaps the fairest assessment of what happened that September morning is to attribute it to the fog of war. Thanks to the Spitfire’s service record during WWII, many people have found parts of Spitfires and have restored them to flying condition. As squadron adjutant, Freeborn excused himself from sandbag duty on account of the growing pile of paperwork on his desk. By 1945 the Spitfire was regarded as the superior fighter to the 109, especially at heights over 20,000 feet. As one of the few surviving RAF pilots who had flown night patrols against the Germans, his input was invaluable. I would say ‘get in the air’ and they would say, ‘I don’t want to.’ But I did. That was the end of that.”. He promptly shot them up and consigned them to their maker.” Freeborn acknowledged the incident with a laugh. The Hurricane vs The Spitfire . Following the Battle of Britain, the Hurricanes would be dispatched all over Europe and North Africa. The Spitfire, Hurricane, and Fw-190, with their “vertical” landing gear and heavier structures, fared much better. Freeborn soon mastered the Spitfire, but some of his fellow pilots were less easy to handle. Hawkshaw Hawkins (Harold Hawkins), country singer; he died along with country stars Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas when the small plane that was carrying them crashed in 1963. The Hurricane vs The Spitfire . Although the Type 224 was the superior aircraft, RAF higher ups were skeptical of monoplane designs. Following the war, the company had reformed as Supermarine and produced air racing aircraft. 74 “Tiger” Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, east of London. The 80th Fighter Squadron has twice encountered "Tony" type fighters in combat, both times in the vicinity of Bogadjin. It created friction between Malan and myself, but not the rest of the squadron. Both prior and during WWII, the Hurricane and Spitfire were immensely successful aircraft. Asked if he followed Adolph "Sailor" Malan’s “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” John Freeborn, seen atop his Spitfire Mk. I watched him go down to 5,000 ft before breaking off due to being short of petrol and ammunition. I flew all the time. This is mostly down to them being British, and with the role of the Spitfire during the Battle of Britain being emphasized on us since we were small children. As well as restorations, several companies have designed and built replica Spitfires. The Hurricane also has a faster rate of climb than the Spitfire does! Who was the best? During WWII, a fighter aircraft was any aircraft, who’s sole purpose was to engage (and hence fight) enemy aircraft. The Spitfire would subsequently make its maiden flight on March 5 1936, before being introduced in August 1938. Asked for his opinion of Malan’s famous “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” which became an unofficial guide for new pilots, Freeborn snorted with derision: “A lot of rubbish. Weight: 7200 lbs. On top of this, we also interviewed several Hawker Hurricane owners, who told us that it can cost between $10,000 and $25,000 per year to insure a Hurricane with a reputable third party vendor! HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. The … The most common variant of the Supermarine Spitfire is the Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB. The reason for that notoriety is due to the team's staggering success, which developed over the weekend as they were crowned the European Gauntlet 2020 Champions. But it wasn’t. One pilot absent from the hard labor was Pilot Officer John Freeborn, a 19-year-old who spoke his mind with a confidence that belied his tender years. Both the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire served in many of the same battles during WWII, often side-by-side one another. Although skeptical, the RAF was interested in the fighter, believing that if it could be mass-produced, it would continue Britain’s tradition of being the strongest military in the world (at the time). HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. It was 55 %to the Hurricane versus 45% to the Spitfire. When he was posted in December 1941 as liaison officer to British pilots training in the United States, Freeborn found the Americans’ openness a refreshing change. Today, most people view both the Hurricane and Spitfire as some of the best WWII-era fighter aircraft ever made. Spitfire vs. Messerschmitt Bf 109. This is far cheaper than modern fighter jets like the F-22 and F-35. We recently compared the P-51 Mustang and Spitfire, where we were inundated with requests for a Hurricane-Spitfire comparison. The Spitfire is noticeably faster than the Hurricane, although, sacrifices range for speed. By the end of the war, both roles had become distinct from one another. When Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, the news was greeted with excitement at the home of No. I did not follow as many E/A were engaged and I had noted another of our A/C damaged. Depending on the number of kills and history, Hurricanes go for anything from $1.5 to 2.2 million. They couldn’t have cared less. Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. Freeborn broke off the attack with a sense of euphoria, believing he had just shot down his first German. And now for some out-of-schedule aviation geekiness: Yesterday I encoutnered an off-hand comment about whether the Spitfire or the Messerschmitt … He wouldn’t give us any more money. Byrne had landed and was under close arrest, and when I landed [squadron commander] George Sampson was waiting and I’m under close arrest. “I did things like that,” he said. “My confidence didn’t really suffer,” reflected Freeborn of the incident. During the invasion of France, Hurricanes worked alongside French aircraft. Byrne had shot down the 56 Squadron Hurricane flown by Frank Rose, who managed to bail out, but Freeborn had downed his wingman, 26-year-old Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop, who was dead, the first British pilot combat fatality of the war. Conversely, the Spitfire’s metal construction meant that skilled metal workers were needed to conduct repairs. I gave him a squirt or two and he hit a telegraph pole with his prop and it knocked him to pieces. Gavin Mortimer is a British historian whose published works include histories of Merrill’s Marauders and the London Blitz. Freeborn and Byrne had a first-class defense team. Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain (Photo from the Imperial War Museum) The Hurricane, with its wood and fabric construction, was also easier for ground crews to repair and conduct maintenance on. Industry swiftly supplanted emotion as airmen and ground crews began to fill thousands of sandbags to create blast-proof dispersals for the squadron’s Supermarine Spitfires. In total, I would say that I prefer the Hurricane over the Spitfire, however, not by much. Freeborn joined the RAF in 1937 and was posted in October 1938 to 74 Squadron with the rank of acting pilot officer. To do this, they solicited designs from Britain’s aircraft manufacturers for such an aircraft. Freeborn got a crash course in how to fly the Spitfire as he sat in the cockpit on the grass runway at Hornchurch. He was a brilliant pilot, but he was as evasive on the ground as he was in the air, a mix of showman and politician. Freeborn’s outspokenness undoubtedly worked against him in the rigid hierarchy of the RAF, as did his relatively humble upbringing. By the outbreak of WWII, the RAF already had a series of Spitfire squadrons based at RAF Duxford (now IWM Duxford). For the pilot who flew both, he rather controversially said that he preferred the Hurricane. As usual, I asked several members of the public about their opinions on the Spitfire and Hurricane. Rick Nielsen, musician, vocalist, primary songwriter of the band Cheap Trick. As well as restorations, several companies also sell replicas of the Hurricane. (Imperial War Museum CH158) Repositioning to attack from the rear, Byrne dispatched one of the aircraft and Freeborn opened fire on the other with his Spitfire’s eight Browning .303-inch guns, sending it down in flames. Freeborn was in his mid-80s when I got to know him, living by himself in northwest England, having outlived two wives. When Malan died in 1963 of Parkinson’s disease, The Times of London said in his obituary that he had been an inspiring and unselfish leader in combat and in politics. A turning radius quoted as 800 feet for the Hurricane and 880 feet for the Spitfire. Handsome and charismatic, Malan was at first friendly with Freeborn, but slowly another side began to emerge. It was highly manoeuvrable, with a turning circle even tighter than that of a Spitfire. “They went to school together, they both came from Dublin and they fought a lot,” recalled Freeborn. Anyone who has followed Contenders Overwatch over the past few years will probably know and fear the name British Hurricane, the London Spitfire's Contenders counterpart. The RAF fighters made good teammates—except during their first wartime encounter. Following the Allied defeat at Dunkirk, Spitfires, along with other brand new British aircraft were ordered to evacuate to Britain to avoid the aircraft being capture, tested and reengineered by the Germans. Pilots were instructed to sharpen up their visual identification of aircraft, while the training of controllers, plotters and radar operators was improved. Before we can compare both the Hurricane and the Spitfire, we must first understand the basics behind both of the aircraft. In 1934, the RAF was once again looking for new aircraft. The Spitfire also had better armaments throughout the generations than the Hurricane. A damage 109 resulting more often in a POW and a destroyed plane, but a damage hurricane/spitfire resulted more often in a damage plane and a pilot redy to fight next day. They couldn’t find him. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Immediately following the end of the war, fighter aircraft remained in relatively similar roles. This feature originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Aviation History. I was only a kid and I’d never flown a monoplane.”. Whilst this role had been used during WWI, it had largely been forgotten about since then. You could only do what you could do.”. However, the RAF wanted to preserve its new fleet of Hurricanes, with their primary objective being to withdraw to England. 2, Acting Flying Officer John Freeborn; and Sgt. During the Battle of Britain, British and allied forces used Hurricanes as interceptor aircraft against German bombers, with Spitfires taking on Bf.109s. Due to the Hurricane’s popularity, with it having served in many important WWII battles, many people are restoring Hurricanes to flying condition. Having trained on a de Havilland Tiger Moth, he was now introduced to another biplane, the Gloster Gauntlet, which he appreciated for its gentle maneuverability. Malan, who was appointed 74 Squadron’s CO on August 8, frequently consulted Freeborn on tactics. 56 Squadron embark on a mission from North Weald. I was shouting at him to get out of the bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it. For many of them, whilst the Spitfire got the glory, the Hurricane did the “grunt” work to get the Spitfire the glory (which is somewhat true). When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Air Force fielded its Hurricanes against the Luftwaffe’s Bf.109s. In 1931, the RAF wanted a new fighter, soliciting aircraft manufacturers to send in new designs. A fighter attacked the enemy, whilst an interceptor was purely defensive. “I caught this one knocking bloody seven bells out of a Spitfire over Dunkirk,” he remembered of the Messerschmitt Me-109E he encountered on the French coast. But partially treated sewage once flowed into the River Thames at Barking Creek, and it’s been suggested that Barking Creek was a euphemism for “s— creek,” the American expression that had recently found its way to Britain. “I thought, ‘Bloody hell, I’ve got it all wrong,’ and I went between the hangars at 180 mph.”. Charles de Lint, author; helped popularize the urban fantasy genre; received World Fantasy Award (2000) for the collection Moonlight and Vines. 74 Squadron members includes Malan (circled in red) and Freeborn (circled in white). Unfortunately, the enemy aircraft supposedly sighted by the searchlight battery did not exist. 56 Squadron embark on a mission from North Weald. So I had to come down through the cloud and that’s when we ran into the Messerschmitt 110s.”, Most of Freeborn’s combat reports were lost in the war, but his account of this encounter with dozens of Me-110s is one of the few that survived. But which was truly the better aircraft in battle. Depending on the year, aircraft history and service record, WWII-era Spitfires can fetch anywhere from $1.5 million to almost $7 million. Arthur Wergs Mitchell, first African-American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The paper also hinted at Malan’s other side in describing “his coldly calculating attitude” as a pilot. These aircraft can go for anything from $1 to $3 million. “As soon as he saw me, he pushed his stick forward, which we [Spitfire pilots] couldn’t do because the engine would stop and it would be some time before the carburetor would be able to flow again. On February 13, 1939, 74 Squadron took delivery of its first Spitfire. The most famous fighter aircraft used in the Battle of Britain were the British Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire Mk I and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E variant (Emil) single-engined fighters. During the Battle of Britain there were 32 Squadrons with Hurricanes and only 19 Squadrons of Spitfires. There were no Luftwaffe bombers approaching the coast, so the nervous Royal Air Force pilots sat in the late summer sunshine and waited for what they believed was an imminent enemy attack. Had Flinders not intervened, Freeborn probably would have also shot down a Bristol Blenheim he believed to be a German bomber. None of the 20 fighter pilots had ever been in combat, or even seen a German airplane up close, and this inexperience, ignorance and excitement was about to have fatal consequences. “He wasn’t received very nicely,” said Freeborn of the prime minister. On top of this, modern pop culture, through many aviation-themed movies have also distorted the role of modern fighter jets somewhat. The most common variant of the Hawker Hurricane is the Hawker Hurricane MK IIC. Pilot John Flinders as no. He had only recently agreed to talk publicly about his wartime experience as the pilot who had flown more operational hours during the Battle of Britain than any other. Eighty years ago, the air war over Britain did not start well for the Royal Air Force in a “friendly fire” incident involving Spitfires and Hurricanes. Gareth Seagull is a traveler and former Airbus A320 pilot. I then returned to Hornchurch.”, The first of Freeborn’s two kills gave him particular satisfaction. Featured image courtesy of Kieren Pitts via Flickr. Although many of the pilots who flew the aircraft are now no longer with us, a few do remain. Hurricanes served in the defense of Malta, the defense of the Soviet Union and against Rommel in Libya. “I was teaching the doctor to fly, as all medical officers were permitted to fly, and there were two blokes playing golf,” he explained. “We had two great barristers in Sir Patrick Hastings and Roger Bushell [later murdered by the Nazis for his part in organizing the ‘Great Escape’],” said Freeborn. But luck came into it, too, particularly in shooting down the enemy. Giacomo Puccini, Italian operatic composer best known for Madam Butterfly. Required fields are marked *. All rights reserved. I, dismissed them as “a lot of rubbish.” (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association). These aircraft are fairly cheap, fetching anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 depending on the company and size of the aircraft. The final proof is the Hurricane outscored the Spitfire in Battle of Britain kills. Sailor Malan was 74 Squadron’s ace of aces, finishing the war with 27 victories. loaded Re: Spitfire vs Hurricane Hurri was more stable when firing, apparently if you put your pipper on the target even with a long burst the aircraft would not wallow or pitch during the firing, the Spit was a bit more fidgety, being a more responsive aircraft, Your email address will not be published. “I got him down with about four bullets from each gun and he just burst into flames,” he recalled. As such, hawker privately funded a redesign, looking to make the P.V.3 a monoplane. Supermarine was one of these aircraft manufacturers, sending in the Type 224 monoplane. © International Aviation HQ. British propaganda of the era depicted Spitfires as taking on legions of Bf.109s whilst Hurricanes attacked German bombers. Two of 56 Squadron’s reserve Hurricanes soon followed, with pilots Montague Hulton-Harrop and Frank Rose unable to resist the urge to join the hunt. As per usual, I spoke with a number of British avgeeks, many outside RAF Conningsby (where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is housed). In 1934, the RAF’s WWI-era fighters were ageing too much for the RAF and they sought a replacement. “We landed back at North Weald very angry at the terrible mess-up where our controllers had so irresponsibly vectored two wings onto each other, guns loaded and pilots warned for combat,” he remarked after the war. XIIa (left) and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. The next day there was a squadron scramble that proved to be a false alarm. Nonetheless, Freeborn liked Malan well enough to apply for a transfer to his A Flight, and early on the morning of September 6 the South African led his flight to intercept the approaching hostiles high over Essex. rt of Comparative Trials of Hurricane versus essersc I have the honour to infom you that, in accordance verbRL Instructions Headquarters, a section of Of B.A.F.F., Squadron proceeded to ORLEANS on 2nd May , 1940, to carry out certain pre 1 Iminary triEAs to assess the quall ties of a Hurricane … “I would sometimes fly quite close to frighten them, so close the slipstream would hit them and it would blow the parachute all over the place.