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Battle of Britain - Art Chronology
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August 15, 2010 - 11:23 am
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15 August (continued)

Thompson And Rubensdoerffer by Paul Jacobs

On August 15, the Luftwaffe attacked several British airfields. RAF Croydon was hit by the Me 110s of Erp. Gr. 210, led by the brilliant pilot, Walter Rubensdoerffer. John Thompson led his 111 Squadron Spitfires against the attacking 110s as the Germans were making their postattack withdrawal. Thompson and Rubensdoerffer got caught up in an extended low-level chase over the Sussex countryside. Thompson was impressed with the great skill shown by Rubensdoerffer in taking advantage of whatever cover he could find. Thompson remarked that he knew he was getting low when he saw his tracers removing shingles from a farmhouse roof. Eventually Thompson struck home, and Erp. Gr. 210 lost its most gifted leader and pilot.

Image and text from Paul Jacobs and Robert Lightsey’s Battle of Britain Illustrated

15 August (continued)

Combat Over Croydon by Mark Postlethwaite

Messerschmitt Bf 110s of Epr. Gr. 210 in action over Croydon on 15th August 1940.

Image and text from The Aviation Art of Mark Postlethwaite

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August 15, 2010 - 11:30 am
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15 August (continued)

Adlertag 15 August 1940 by Frank Wootten

Hurricanes taking off from an airfield near London. The airfield has been badly bombed. There was no time to infill the bomb craters, which were marked with yellow flags. An Me 109 has been brought down, crashing into the boundary hedge; the pilot, unhurt, is being taken away by the intelligence officers while the battle is still being fought overhead.

Image from The Greenwich Workshop/Text from Frank Wootten’s Frank Wootten: 50 Years of Aviation Art

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August 15, 2010 - 11:38 am
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15 August (continued)

Blunting Of The Zerstorer by Iain Wyllie

15 August 1940 – the height of the Battle of Britain. And early evening over the Hampshire coast as Hans-Joachim Jabs of 6./ZG 76 points the Sharksmouth nose of his Bf 110C “Nordpol-Paula” back out over the Channel to escape the attention of a pair of prowling No 87 Sqn Hurricanes up from Exeter. Tasked with escorting a formation of Ju 88 bombers attacking Worthy Down and Middle Wallop, II./ZG 76 and their charges had been met by no fewer than eight squadrons of RAF fighters. Jabs’ claiming two Spitfires and a Hurricane was little recompense for the grievous losses suffered by the “Sharksmouths” during the ensuing action. Altogether, Major Erich Groth’s Gruppe lost eight Bf 110s, with a total of 14 aircrew reported killed, missing or wounded on this day.

Two of the Bf 110s downed during this hard fought engagement fell to No 87 Sqn Hurricane ace Flt Lt Ian “Widge” Gleed, who recounted the action from the British perspective in his excellent wartime autobiography Arise to Conquer,

“‘Hell! There they are’. I speak on the R.T. ‘Hullo, Suncap Leader. Tally-ho! Bandits just to our right. Line astern, line astern, go’. I slam my glasshouse shut. ‘Christ! It’s worse than a Hendon air pageant’. A horde of dots are filling the sky; below us bombers flying in close formation – Ju 88s and 87s. Above them, towering tier above tier, are fighters – 110s and 109s. The mass comes closer. ‘Now steady; don’t go in too soon – work round into the sun’. The bombers pass about 10,000 ft below us. I start a dive, craning my neck to see behind. A circle of 110s are just in front of us; they turn in a big circle. Suddenly, the white of the crosses on their wings jumps into shape. I kick on the rudder; my sights are just in front of one. ‘Get the right deflection’. Now I press the firing-button – a terrific burst of orange flame; it seems to light the whole sky. Everything goes grey as I bank into a turn. ‘Ease off a bit, you fool, or you’ll spin’. I push the stick forward – white puffs flash past my cockpits. ‘Blast you, rear-gunners!’ I climb steeply, turning hard. Just above me there is another circle of 110s; their bellies are pale blue, looking very clean.

“‘Look out! Look out’ Oh God! A Hurricane just in front of me is shooting at a 110; another 110 is on it’s tail. Hell! It’s too far for me to reach. The 110 goes vertical downwards followed by the Hurricane – ‘Hell, you bastards!’ A stream of tracer from behind just misses my right wing. I turn hard to the left; two splashes appear in the calm sea; already it is dotted with oily patches. For a second I get my sights on another 110. He turns and gives me an easy deflection shot. I thumb the trigger; a puff of white smoke comes from his engine. Almost lazily he turns on his back and starts an inverted, over the vertical, dive. I steep turn. Down, down he goes – a white splash. At the same time two other splashes and a cloud of smoke go up from the beach. Four ‘planes have hit the deck within a second.”

Image and text from Iain Wyllie and Tony Holmes’ Aircraft of the Aces: Legends of World War 2

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August 16, 2010 - 3:21 pm
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16 August

Nicolson’s VC by Paul Jacobs

The only Victoria Cross won by a pilot during the battle was awarded to Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson. On August 16, he attacked a group of Me 110s near Southampton. On the run-in, he was attacked by Me 109s. His Hurricane was hit by cannon fire and burst into flames. He began to bail out, but a 110 overshot and ended up in front of him. He resumed his position and fired at the 110, sending it crashing into the sea. He then bailed out, suffering from severe burns. His final brush with death came during the parachute descent. Locals on the ground saw his and his wingman’s parachutes and assumed they were part of an enemy parachute assault. The locals began firing at the two airmen. Nicolson survived, but his wingman did not.

Image and text from Paul Jacobs and Robert Lightsey’s Battle of Britain Illustrated

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August 16, 2010 - 3:27 pm
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16 August (continued)

Spitfire! by David Pentland

Sussex Coast, England, 16th August 1940. For Donald MacDonald, Squadron Leader of 64 Squadron, this particular day was fairly eventful. Catching the JG 54 fighters and III./KG 55 bombers on the coast, he personally accounted for one Me 109E destroyed, another damaged, and a third probable. Continuing his attack he shared in the destruction of a He 111P-2, and heavily damaged a second.

Image and text from Cranston Fine Arts

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August 16, 2010 - 3:32 pm
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16 August (continued)

Battle Of Britain VC by Robert Taylor

James Nicolson, the only pilot of the Battle of Britain to be awarded the Victoria Cross, scrambles out of his stricken 249 Squadron Hurricane. Fired on by an Me 110, he was wounded in the head and foot, and his engine was ablaze. After clambering out of the machine, he saw another enemy aircraft and was able to clamber back into the cockpit, and fire upon the aircraft, destroying it. Once again he clambered out of his burning aircraft and parachuted to eventual safety.

Image from Military Gallery/Text from Cranston Fine Arts

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August 16, 2010 - 3:36 pm
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16 August (continued)

Uneven Odds by Robert Taylor

On August 16, 1940, Frank Carey led No 43 Squadron’s “A” Flight into “schwarms of Ju 87s”, escorted by Me 109s. Though hopelessly outnumbered, Carey accounted for 4 Ju 87s before running out of ammunition. Robert Taylor’s painting captures the trauma of the battle.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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August 16, 2010 - 3:41 pm
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16 August (continued)

Their Finest Hour by Nicolas Trudgian

On August 16 over 1700 German aircraft crossed the coast and RAF bases in the south-east were taking a pounding. Hawkinge, a satellite of the Biggin Hill sector station, lay right in the path of the raiding Luftwaffe hordes. Refueled and re-armed, with scarlet patched covering the gunports all serviceable aircraft roar off the grass strip and head back to the fray.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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August 16, 2010 - 3:48 pm
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16 August (continued)

An American Citizen Who Died by Ronald Wong

Pilot Officer William Fiske III of No 601 Sqn RAF, an American volunteer, engaged the enemy over Tangmere on Aug 16 1940.

His Hurricane was damaged in combat, and as he attempted to recover to base he was killed by pursuing Me 109s.

Image from The Aviation Art of Ronald Wong/Text from eHangar

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August 16, 2010 - 3:54 pm
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16 August (continued)

The American Friend by John Howard Worsley

Billy Fiske was the first American RAF pilot to give his life for Britain in WW2. He was already a famous Olympic Gold medalist having captained the American Bob Sleigh Team in 1936.

Image and text from Paintings I Love

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August 18, 2010 - 2:28 pm
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The Hardest Day

18 August

August Victory by Simon Atack

Simon Atack has recreated an action flown by Pilot Officer Bob Doe during a fierce battle over the south coast, near the Isle of Wight on 18th August, 1940. Flying a Mk I Spitfire of No 234 Squadron, Bob Doe is seen bringing down an Me 109 high over Southampton, one of 14 victories he achieved during the Battle of Britain. The third highest scoring fighter pilot of the battle, 20 year old Bob Doe was one of the few aces to fly both Spitfires and Hurricanes during the battle. Simon captures the very essence of the most tumultous of all aerial conflicts in his dramatic painting, August Victory, with Bob flying his trusted Spitfire, “D” for Doe.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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August 18, 2010 - 2:34 pm
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18 August (continued)

A Grand Aircraft by Geoff Hunt

The RAF’s No 257 Squadron was based in the south east of England throughout the Battle of Britain. By mid August 1940, at the height of the battle, the squadron was based at RAF Debden in north west Essex and operating from there and the forward base of RAF Martlesham Heath near Ipswich in Suffolk.

During the late afternoon of Sunday 18th August 1940, designated as “The Hardest Day” of the Battle of Britain by one leading aviation historian, the Hurricanes of 257 Squadron intercepted a raid inbound over the Thames Estuary. In the combat which followed, Pilot Officer Gerard Maffett, flying Hurricane P3175, claimed his first damage to an enemy aircraft. Describing the encounter in a letter home a few days later, the young pilot concluded with a tribute to his own aircraft, “… the Hurricane certainly is a grand aircraft.”

As the conflict intensified, Hurricane P3175 eventually succumbed to enemy action. The aircraft fell on the Essex coastal marshes at Walton-on-the-Naze near Harwich. Decades later the substantial remains were recovered by a team of local people; the full story of which is told in the book “One Hurricane One Raid” (Airlife 1990).

Hurricane P3175, DT-S, now lies in the Battle of Britain Hall of the RAF Museum in London, which occupies part of the former site of RAF Hendon where 257 Squadron was formed in 1940.

Image and text from Walton-on-the-Naze

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August 18, 2010 - 2:41 pm
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18 August (continued)

Simpson Plays Through by Paul Jacobs

Golf course fairways were very attractive to pilots with damaged or dead engines. On August 18, Peter Simpson of 111 Squadron was shot down by Do 17s he had been attacking. He managed to crash-land on a golf course, much to the aggravation of the local golfers. The offended players threatened him with their clubs, thinking that at worst he was a German, and at least he had torn up the fairway. Simpson resorted to producing a pack of Players cigarettes to establish his true identity. In this depiction, no doubt, with typical British aplomb, the pilot is assuming that he should be commended for stopping his Hurricane before tearing up the green, while the golfers will no doubt insist that he repair his substantial divot on the fairway.

Image and text from Paul Jacobs and Robert Lightsey’s Battle of Britain Illustrated

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August 18, 2010 - 2:45 pm
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18 August (continued)

Messerschmitt Bf 110C U8+BB by Martin Novotny

18 August 1940 Squadron Leader MacDonnell from 64 Squadron RAF shot down Messerschmitt Bf 110C WrNr 3102 U8+BB from Stab I./ZG 26.

Both German pilots – Oblt Rudiger Proske and Bordfunker Hans Mobius were captured.

Image and text from eHangar

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August 18, 2010 - 2:50 pm
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18 August (continued)

Eagle Day by Geoff Nutkins

Smoke rises from the wreckage of a Dornier Do 17 bomber, part of a force sent to attack RAF Kenley on 18th August 1940. The Dornier was brought down near Biggin Hill by Sergeant Ron Brown of No 111 Squadron, whose Hurricanes flies low overhead.

The Dornier crashed and burned-out at Leaves Green, near Biggin Hill at 1:30 pm. Hptm J Roth (Staffelkapitan) and Oblt R Lamberty were captured badly burned. Hptm G Peters and Obfw V Geier baled out too low and were captured badly injured in heavy landings. Fw H Eberhard deployed his parachute whilst still in the aircraft and baled out very low but amazingly landed unhurt.

Image and text from Aviation Art by Geoff Nutkins

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August 18, 2010 - 2:55 pm
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18 August (continued)

A Packet Of Players by Mark Postlethwaite

This painting was commissioned by the RAC Golf Club at Woodcote Park near Epsom and depicts the 111 Squadron Hurricane of Pilot Officer Peter Simpson, after he force-landed on the course during the Kenley raid. The two golfers approaching were only convinced of his nationality when he showed them a packet of Players cigarettes, hence the title. Many other stories have evolved over the years concerning this incident, but the most important point I understand is that the aircraft and its trail of destruction would be regarded as a special wartime hazard and, therefore, a player could remove his ball from the immediate area without penalty.

Image and text from Chris Goss and Mark Postlethwaite’s War in the Air: The World War Two Aviation Paintings of Mark Postlethwaite

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August 18, 2010 - 3:01 pm
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18 August (continued)

The Raid On Kenley by Mark Postlethwaite

Do 17s of 9./KG 76 withdraw after making a low-level attack on Kenley airfield on 18 August 1940, with a section of Hurricanes of 111 Squadron hurtling after them.

Image and text from Chris Goss and Mark Postlethwaite’s War in the Air: The World War Two Aviation Paintings of Mark Postlethwaite

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18 August (continued)

Air Armada by Robert Taylor

In just six weeks Hitler??™s forces had overrun Western Europe as once-proud armies swiftly fell before the might of the German “Blitzkrieg”. It was a devastating defeat, and now only Britain stood alone. Few thought she could survive. As Churchill pledged that Britain would never surrender, a German invasion seemed inevitable. But before any invasion could take place the Luftwaffe must neutralise the RAF and win control of the skies over southern England. Awaiting them was a small, but resilient band of young men, the pilots of RAF Fighter Command. On 12 August, the Germans turned their full attention to the forward fighter bases and radar stations, hoping to obliterate them once and for all. From Norway in the north, through the Low Countries and northern France to Brittany in the west, the Luftwaffe threw every available aircraft into the attack. For the young men of Fighter Command the next seven days of fighting would leave them exhausted and all but spent: They were to be the hardest days of the Battle of Britain, culminating on Sunday 18 August.

Robert Taylor’s magnificent masterwork, Air Armada, recreates a moment on that day as Heinz Bar, the Luftwaffe’s top-scoring NCO ace of the Battle of Britain and one of the greatest aces in history, climbs away from his airfield near Calais with the other pilots of 1./JG 51 to escort the Do 17s of KG 76 for yet another dealy attack on the RAF. Away in the distance, Me 110s from EPRG 210 also prepare to join the epic encounters that lie ahead.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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August 18, 2010 - 3:12 pm
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18 August (continued)

Hornchurch Scramble by Robert Taylor

On August 12th, 1940 the Luftwaffe turned their full attention to the RAF’s forward fighter bases and radar stations with the intent to obliterate them once and for all. The outcome of the Battle of Britain hung in the balance. It was late in the afternoon of Sunday, 18 August 1940. The previous week had seen the hardest days of fighting in the Battle of Britain as the young pilots of the RAF Fighter Command had engaged in deadly duels with the Luftwaffe. Bystanders gazed cautiously upwards at the weaving contrails in the clear blue skies over southern England as they anxiously awaited the outcome. For just a moment, all was at peace: A gentle breeze floated across the airfield at RAF Hornchurch as the exhausted young pilots of 54 Squadron could rest for a few brief minutes and reflect on their own previous two encounters with the enemy that day. The Luftwaffe had thrown everything at them in the past few days, but today had been the toughest of them all. And then the calm was shattered by the shrill tones of the alarm, the Luftwaffe had launched another huge raid of over 300 aircraft across the Channel, and it looked like Hornchurch was the target.

Robert Taylor’s masterful painting, Hornchurch Scramble, portrays the moment as 54 Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader James Leathart, taxis out at Hornchurch to prepare for take-off. Quickly following, the aircraft of New Zealander Colin Gray is guided out from dispersal by his ground crew. Gray would claim 3 Bf 110s in the encounter and would eventually become the top scoring New Zealand ace of the war.

Image and text from Military Gallery

18 August (continued)

Valiant Response by Robert Taylor

The Spitfires of 54 Squadron, quickly scrambled from nearby Hornchurch, clash with the Me 109s from 1./JG 51 over Kent. Below, Me 110s from KPRG 210 are about to receive unwelcome attention as the rest of the Spitfires hurtle down upon them and in the distance, a group of Hurricanes rip through a dense formation of Do 17s from KG 76 as they struggle back to France. What clouds there are will be unlikely to give much sanctuary and, for the onlookers on the ground far below, the skies will soon be filled with weaving trails of smoke and debris. For nearly a week the Luftwaffe had thrown everything they had into the attack on southern England in order to annihilate RAF Fighter Command, in preparation for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain. And, heavily outnumbered, the young RAF Spitfire and Hurricane pilots of Fighter Command had so far repelled them, at a cost. But on Sunday 18 August 1940, the Germans launched the heaviest formations of aircraft seen in the battle so far. This was to be a grinding day of relentless assaults on the airfields of southern England, the ???hardest day??™ of the Battle of Britain.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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August 18, 2010 - 3:16 pm
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18 August (continued)

Holding The Line by Nicolas Trudgian

Nine Dornier Do 17Z bombers of 9th Staffel, KG 76, detailed to attack the RAF airfield at Kenley were spotted as they approached the English coast, and Hurricanes were scrambled to intercept. As the German bombers lined up to attack the airfield, Hurricanes of 111 Squadron came diving upon them. Suddenly all hell broke loose. Bombs rained down on the airfield, one Dornier was brought down and two more were finished off by the Hurricane pilots. Now the chase was on to catch the others. Nicolas Trudgian’s action-packed painting depicts the scene as the surviving Dorniers reach the English coastline. Only one of the nine Dorniers that set out will return to base on that 18th day of August, 1940.

Image and text from Military Gallery

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