80 years ago today on 15 September 1940, the Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out the RAF into a battle of annihilation.
Around 1,750 aircraft (the RAF's 630 against the Luftwaffe's overwhelming 1,120) took part in the air battles which lasted until dusk.
The action turned out to be the climax of the Battle of Britain as, following the Luftwaffe's failure to capture air superiority, Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain, but of course then switched to the indiscriminate Blitz, night time bombings.
"Never in the field of human conflict have so many owed so much to so few"
Churchill also said.
A country that forgets its past, will have no future.
Hopefully many will think about those few brave pilots today
Not forgetting all the ground crew who serviced, patched up and re-armed all the aircraft to keep the 'Few' in the skies.
Nicely written tribute 38th Parallel. We owe a great deal to those who fought in that war, both wars. Amazing that with almost double the numbers, our men kept superiority of the skies over the Luftwaffe. They must have been amazingly brave and stalwart.
With hindsight Germany made tactical errors - ceasing the targeting of the south coast radar installations - on one night 4 radar installations were bombed and put out of commission but by next date 3 of the 4 were put back in action.
Ditto the targeting of raids on RAF airfields which was within about 2 weeks of rendering RAF unable to continue resistance - but Hitler demanded a switch to revenge raids on London after the ignominy of Berlin being bombed.
RAF also gave the pilots in SE a recovery break by switching pilots with Northern bases - whereas German pilots had no such breaks and had to fly daily however exhausted.
UK production of much needed fighter planes also rose to the challenge with fighter pilots saying they might be a dozen aircraft short on a base one evening but magically they were back up to strength next day - whilst we also had close to a 2 to 1 ratio of pilots to aircraft.
We should also not forget the British engineer Beatrice Shilling ...
The Spitfire's original engine couldn't handle barrel rolls. The throttle valve would get flooded with fuel as the plane turned upside-down. German pilots quickly caught on to this particular flaw because black smoke would puff out of the Spitfire whenever it flipped over. The engines would stall out for a moment, but in a dogfight, that's all a German Messerschmidt Me 109 needed.
Beatrice Shilling, a British engineer and motorcycle enthusiast, came up with the perfect stopgap. She placed a ring inside the engine to restrict fuel flow to the minimum amount necessary. "Although not a complete solution," the Royal Air Force's website states, "it allowed RAF pilots to perform quick negative g manoeuvres [sic] without loss of engine power." The device quickly drew comparison to a diaphragm and was referred to as "Miss Shilling's orifice." The rings that helped the Allies turn the tides in the Second World War were eventually replaced by pressure carburettors in 1943.
I am sorry, but you comments about problems with the Merlin engine fitted to the Spitfire are incorrect.
The problem was that when the plane rolled all the fuel in the float chamber was forced to the top starving the engine with fuel. The engine would cut out which would then make the propeller go into fine pitch slowing the aircraft even further. When the plane righted the engine would pick up, and then overspeed.
The lady involved was a Miss TILLY Shilling who worked at Farnborough. The Merlin's fault was with the carburettor float chamber, and Miss Tilling designed a diaphragm with a small calibrated hole which kept fuel in the chamber.
The Merlin has a supercharger, which means forced induction, and it ought to be obvious that any restriction of the throttle valve would be irrelevant to solving the initial problem. What is a pressure carburettor ? I presume you are talking about the Bendix/Stromberg unit which was fitted later on, although this was superseded by the SU unit which used aneroid capsules to inject fuel into the the eye of the supercharger.