View Full Version : Uncle Sam's Spitfires

01-29-2005, 03:23 PM

01-29-2005, 03:23 PM

01-29-2005, 03:24 PM
Now, if Tom Cruise ever wanted to make a film with him as a WWII American Pilot flying a Spitfire‚‚ā¨¬¶

The following was taken from here: http://modelingmadness.com/reviews/allies/gb/cleaverspit8.htm

The arrival of the Focke-Wulf Fw-190 on the Channel Front in late 1941 spelled the end of whatever margin of ascendancy the RAF might have had in the air war over northeastern France. When an Fw-190A-3 finally fell into British hands six months later, it was found to be so superior to the Spitfire V that the Germans had derated the engine some 200 h.p. to limit wear and tear! The only maneuver where the Spitfire held superiority over the Focke-Wulf fighter was in turning; as Wing Commander Al Deere put it, "turning doesn't win battles."

The answer was the Merlin-60 series Spitfire, which would have additional power and keep it at higher altitudes where the Fw-190 began to run out of steam. The "definitive" Merlin-60 series Spitfire fighter was to be the Mk. VIII, with the airframe strengthened to take the additional power, better ailerons, and additional fuel tankage. In the event, due to the force of circumstances and the need to get a better-performing Spitfire into combat as soon as possible, the Spitfire IX - which was an "interim" conversion from the Spitfire V which was itself an "interim" conversion from the Spitfire I - entered service a year prior to the Spitfire VIII becoming available in the summer of 1943, with the result being that only some 1,700 examples of the Spitfire VIII would be produced. This despite the fact that the Spitfire VIII really was the technically-superior version.

Uncle Sam's Spitfires:

When the Eighth Air Force began arriving in England in 1942, it was initially planned that what fighter units would be assigned to it would utilize the P-38 for high-altitude, long-range fighter escort, while the P-39 would provide escort for the medium bombers that were coming. The first P-39 unit to arrive in England was the 31st Fighter Group - the first unit to have taken the Airacobra operational the previous year - though they arrived before their aircraft. In the interim, they were equipped with the Spitfire V. By the time the similarly-equipped 52nd Fighter Group arrived, the RAF had been able to convince the Americans of the unsuitability of the P-39 for aerial combat in western Europe. Both groups were equipped with Spitfire Vs, as a result. During the summer of 1942, the 307th and 308th Fighter Squadrons of the 31st Fighter Group went to Biggin Hill and Kenley respectively for temporary attachment to RAF fighter wings where they could receive an introduction to combat. The 309th FS went to Westhampnett, and by August 5, all three units were operational. Their baptism of fire came on August 19, when they flew air support for the Dieppe Raid, where they lost 8 Spitfires and seven damaged, with one pilot killed and another made prisoner; two Fw-190s were claimed destroyed, with three probables and two damaged. With this, the 31st was considered blooded, and was reunited as a group at Westhampnett, while the 2nd and 4th Fighter Squadrons of the 52nd Fighter Group took their places at Biggin and Kenley.

Before either group could have more effect, they were transferred to the XII Air Force that September, as the North African invasion loomed; by late September, both units had left England to enter combat in the mediterranean. During the invasion, Major Harrison Thyng, CO of the 308th FS, shot down two Vichy D.520s to open the unit's score in the Mediterranean Theater. In December and January, the 52nd Fighter Group entered combat in defense of the port of Bone; on January 13, 1943, 1st Lt. Norman Bolle shot down 114-victory experte Leutnant Wilhelm Crinius of II/JG-2. On February 4th, 12 Spitfires of the 4th FS escorting ground-strafing P-39s were hit by Kurt Buhligen and Erich Rudorffer of II/JG2, the two experten taking down 3 of the Spitfires for no losses. Throughout this period the Americans found themselves frequently outclassed by the experten of JG2 and JG77, sent to counter the North African invasion. By March 21, the Americans had adopted the more aggressive tactics of the RAF's Western Desert Air Force, and 36 Spitfires of the 31st FG ran across 17 Ju-87D-3s of III/St.G.3, escorted by Bf-109s and Fw-190s of JG77 and JG2. While the 307th FS held off the fighters, the 309th shot down 4 Stukas and claimed another 4 as probables, for one loss; the following day the 52nd FG claimed 5 Bf-109s, 2 Fw-190s and 2 Ju-88s for one loss - a crash-landing due to flak damage. The two Spitfire units had come into their own. During April 1943, Captains Norman MacDonald and Arthur Vinson of the 52nd FG became the first USAAF Spitfire aces, though Vinson was lost immediately after shooting down his 7th victim. By the time of the Axis surrender in Africa on May 13, the 52nd FG claimed 86 victories and had added a third ace - Lt. Sylvan Field - while the 31st FG claimed 61, and two aces, LCOL Thyng and Major Frank Hill (who would become the top US Spitfire ace of the war with 7 victories).

In August 1943, the 308th FS of the 31st FG - the group's most successful squadron - became the first USAAF unit to operate the Spitfire VIII, the group having had some Mk. IXs in limited operation since the previous April, with enough in each squadron to provide a high cover flight for the Spitfire Vb's. The new Spitfires first saw combat over Palermo, Sicily, on August 8, 1943, when 20 Bf-109s were encountered, of which 3 were shot down. On August 11, the 308th claimed two Fw-190s and a Macchi C.205. There would be additional combat over Italy in late September during the Salerno invasion, and then things quieted down.
By December 1943, the groups were flying bomber escort in Southern Italy. In January, 1944, 1st Lt. Leland P. Molland, a recent arrival, made the first two of his eventual five scores in the Spitfire VIII, in combat with Fw-190s intercepting American B-25s escorted by the Spitfires. The Anzio invasion on January 22, 1944, brought the Luftwaffe out in force once again, and the 31st FG scored against 18 Fw-190 fighter bombers over the beachhead. That evening, Spitfires of the 2nd FS, which had moved to Corsica with the rest of the 52nd FG, intercepted 50-60 He-111 torpedo bombers of KG26 bound from Marseilles to attack the invasion fleet off Anzio, and forced most of the German bombers to drop their torpedos, while shooting down seven Heinkels and damaging three Ju-88s. The next day, the 4th FS intercepted six Do-217s equipped with Fritz-X bombs and shot down two, scattering the others. Through the rest of January, both units engaged in numerous combats over the beachhead and as far inland as Rome. On February 6, 308th FS CO Maj. Virgil Fields was shot down and killed. Lt. Molland, who became an ace with his fifth kill in the fight in which Fields was lost, moved up to command the squadron. By March 21st, the 308th had raised its total score to 62, with 1st Lt. Richard F. Hurd becoming the second highest-scoring US Spitfire ace with 6 victories.

On March 11, 1944, the 31st FG had received their first P-51B Mustang. On March 24, the unit was taken off operations to handle full conversion to the Mustang, despite the feelings of many of the pilots that they were being asked to take an inferior airplane to their Spitfire VIIIs and IXs. On March 26, 1944, the 31st flew their last Spitfire mission, with four Spitfire VIIIs of the 308th FS finding 20 Fw-190G fighter bombers, of which they claimed one destroyed and three probables for the group's last victories in the Spitfire. The following month, the 52nd Fighter Group followed the 31st into the Mustang and on to the new 15th Air Force, with the last US Spitfire victories being 3 Bf-109Gs shot down of 6 that attacked the Spitfire IXs of the 5th FS of the 52nd FG during a bomber escort to Orvieto, Italy.
Uncle Sam's Spitfires had written a little-known chapter in US fighter history. Though the USAAF used over 600 Spitfires during the war, it was never given a US designation, and little publicity was given to the exploits of the 31st and 52nd Fighter Groups - nothing like what they would get in the summer of 1944 during the wild air battles over Ploesti when they flew Mustangs. This is most likely a good example of the US military's overall dislike of having to admit to using "NIH" equipment (Not Invented Here). During their time in Spitfires, the 31st FG claimed 194.5 confirmed, 39 probables and 124 damaged; the 52nd claimed 152.33 confirmed, 22 probables and 71 damaged. Thirteen pilots became aces on the Spitfire. Leland Molland went on to score another 6 victories in the summer of 1944 in the P-51 to bring his score to 11. Harrison Thyng added 5 more victories to his 5.5 as CO of the 4th FIW in Korea, while Royal N. Baker, who scored 3.5 in Spitfires added another 13 in Korea.





01-29-2005, 03:34 PM
The US Navy used some Spitfires as well:


01-31-2005, 04:23 AM
Ive also read that the 1st Fw 190 the RAF tested had a derated engine. Was it to limit wear and tear and overheating due to the Fw's superiority to the V being so absolute it could afford to do this? Or was it just that paricular A3 that they tested had its engine derated for some peculiar reason.

I have tried to point this out in the past also, the A3 the Spit IX was tested against is this very A3 with performance characteristics inferior to the A4 which the Spit IX actually faced in combat. And the test conclusion stated that the derated A3 and Spit IX were very evenly matched up until 25000ft.
So the performance advantage of the A4 would have been greater than the RAF anticipated.