October 18, 2005
Bird of war ....
As a child born immediately after the second world war, I grew up with people talking about Spitfires, Hurricanes and many other legendary fighter and bomber aircraft from both sides of the conflict. I don't think I ever really expected to see them up close - but it is surprising how many are still around. A period spent in the East Lothian region of Scotland found me on the doorstep of a museum specialising in aviation history - there is a Vulcan bomber parked outside as a bit of a clue!
The legendary Spitfire - this one, according to the plaque, a Mk V - in the dark paint scheme used for night fighting.
Of all the aircraft of the WW2 era, the Spitfire seems to have become the symbol of them all, despite the fact that there were never that many of them in service at any one time. Having now heard them in flight, I have to say, that I can understand some of the legend. They have a snarl to the engine and prop which is unique, rather like Concorde's howl. When you get up close to one, as in the museum in East Lothian, it has a magnetic feel to it, even though this one will probably never fly again. In sharp contrast is the Messerschmidt Rocket plane parked alongside the Spitfire - possibly the first really supersonic aircraft - but a real "suicide special".
Short, compact, with limited duration - and deadly to both opponents and its pilots, the Messerschmidt Rocketpowered Interscepter.
This museum is not large, but it is packed with a fascinating collection of aircraft, almost all of them legendary. My only regret is that I have yet to find somewhere with a De Haviland Mosquito (built of Marine Plywood and with twin RR Gryphon engines!) and an even more deadly aircraft designed for Naval strikes - the Bristol Beaufighter, which was nicknamed by the Japanese unfortunate enough to come under attack from them, the "Whispering Death". The reason for this is that the engines were silenced and the prop noise was reduced by using a special blade design which was considerably quieter than any other.
The only problem is that I not only want to see these aircraft - I want to experience flying in them! One small problem with that - I'm not a pilot!
Posted by The Gray Monk at October 18, 2005 10:26 PM
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