Last of the Few
The Battle of Britain in the words of the pilots who won it.
- By The Editors
- AirSpaceMag.com, August 01, 2011
Supermarine Spitfire F. Mk.1 over England, circa 1940. Photograph courtesy NASM.
Pilot Officer Tom Neil
It just so happened that I was the first officer to arrive at 249 Squadron…. I found that we had no aeroplanes and that we were designated as a Hurricane squadron, because it said so on my posting notice. So it was no surprise to us when eight Spitfires turned up, and we flew Spitfires straight from biplanes. None of us (most of us were volunteer reservists) had ever flown monoplanes before and suddenly we were faced with these fearsome Spitfires.
The bloke said to me, “This is a Spitfire. Get in and fly it.” All the training you had was to sit in the hangar with the blindfold round your eyes—the Spitfire was up on trestles—and you felt around the cockpit trying to identify all the tits and bits, pull the wheels up and you put the flaps down, etc.—half a day.
Then you were introduced to your aeroplane and told to get on with it.