R.A.F.: I have always held the highest respect for the RAF, both past and present. Not only do I have family ties with the Service and the English Electric / Handley Page Canberra, but have worked filming for the R.A.F. many times. In this capacity I have been privileged to have flown inside a Chinook helicopter of 7 Sqn. (with the tail door and cargo bay open), a Puma helicopter of 33 Sqn., Westland Wessex Air Sea Rescue helicopters and a Douglas Dakota, as well as work with 101 Tanker Squadron, the R.A.F. Regiment and at many air bases, R.A.F.: Brize Norton, Catterick, Coningsby, Cranwell, Manston, Odiham, Scampton, Upavon and Valley. I was even at the end of the runway behind a squadron of Tornado Fighters, filming them when they took off - at a 'safe distance' but very close - amazing!
Battle of Britain 10 July - 31 October 1940: After the French surrender to Germany on 22 June 1940, Hilter believed that the British, who he did not consider his 'natural enemies', would accept terms of armistice. However, failure to achieve this led to his plans for an invasion of Britain which would have meant negotiating his forces across the English Channel. The German Navy, the 'Kriegsmarine', which had already been severely weakened and was outnumbered by the British Royal Navy, had told Hitler that any attempt for an invasion of Britain should be considered as a last resort and would require full air superiority. Thus it was tasked to the German air force, the 'Luftwaffe', to secure air superiority over Britain by engaging the R.A.F. fighters and attacking the bases of Fighter Command.
Given the name the 'Battle of Britain' by Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, it was the first major military campaign to be fought entirely by forces in the air. The aircraft of the R.A.F. were severely outnumbered by those of the Luftwaffe and the persistent bombing attacks on the airfields of Fighter Command was taking its toll on ground support operations. However, Britain had the advantage of the new 'radar' which together with information from the Observation Corps gave a degree of advanced warning of air raids. A change in German tactics to bomb London, putting their bombers beyond the range of their own fighters, was the turning point as it allowed Fighter Command to both repair their damaged air bases and attack the now more vulnerable bombers of the Luftwaffe. On 15 September, later to become known as 'Battle of Britain Day', such heavy losses were sustained by German aircraft that they realised they would not achieve air superiority and terminated plans for the proposed amphibious invasion of Britain. They had lost 2,660 aircrew against R.A.F. Fighter Command's 537.
In the famous words of Winston Churchill, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". In addition to 2,353 British pilots, the R.A.F. Roll of Honour recognises 574 pilots from other countries, including: Poland (145), New Zealand (127), Canada (112), Czechoslovakia (88), Australia (32), Belgium (28), South Africa (25), France (13), Ireland (10), USA (7) and others (11). Those who flew in the Battle remain known as 'The Few', regardless of nationality.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight: This Gallery is therefore dedicated to these wonderful and historic aircraft, The Few who flew them - especially those who lost their lives in action - and the many men and women who keep them flying today. I photographed both these war planes, belonging to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (the Supermarine Spitfire didn't land), during the Southend Air Festival 2010 and sincerely thank the R.A.F. crews and staff at Southend Airport for their hospitality. I try to find less usual angles and subjects for my photography where possible and many of these photographs feature ground crew operations. I ask that you please respect my copyright.
Avro Lancaster PA474: She is one of only two left in the world in airworthy condition, the other being in Canada. One of a total of 7,377 she was built in Chester in mid 1945 and also took part in the feature films 'Operation Crossbow' and 'The Guns of Navarone'. Amid ongoing restoration she was granted permission for regular flights in 1967. A new main spar (in the wing) was fitted in 1996 which together with a major service completed in 2007 means she should continue to remain airworthy for the foreseeable future. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight aircraft are fully financed by the R.A.F..
Hawker Hurricane PZ865: This is a Mk IIc and was the very last to be built, ending an amazing production run numbering 14,533! It came from the Langley factory in Buckinghamshire in 1944. The Hurricane, of which the prototype first flew in 1935, was designed for war and flew in larger numbers than the Spitfire during the Battle of Britain, achieving proportionally more combat 'kills' and playing a major part in the Allied Victory in 1945.
All of the pictures in this Gallery are available for purchase! Genuine, chemically printed photographs in quality mounts, individually signed by myself as photographer, give the opportunity to own an exclusive, original work for your private enjoyment for very modest cost.
I hope you enjoy your visit and exploring my Galleries.
Kindest Wishes, Clive