rious burns to a pilot. As can be seen, from its introduction to service in the

fall 1938 to the end of the Battle of Britain in October 1940, Spitfire Mk.I

underwent significant technical development which decidedly increased

its combat value and showed that the airframe did possess the reserves

necessary for the further development. Some problems remained unsolved however and are out of the scope of the historical period covered

by our model. Firstly, it was the ailerons‘ stiffness at higher speed caused

by their blown skin. During the Spitfire Mk.I combat deployment this cause

was known, solution in the form of all metal ailerons was prepared but it

has not been applied. Similarly, the 100 grade fuel potential has never

been fully exploited on Spitfire Mk.I.The armament of eight 7.7 mm caliber machine guns, still fully acceptable in the summer 1940, in the fall

1940 it began to be considered insufficient for the future. The couple of

20 mm cannons was experimented with on the cannon equipped Spitfires

Mk.IB already, but this armament saw a wider use only later, on Mk.II and

primarily Mk.V where it practically became a standard.


As we mentioned earlier, at the moment of the outbreak of the war,

Spitfires Mk.I were in the inventory of eleven RAF squadrons. Fighter Command held all Spitfire squadrons back at home bases, squadrons equipped with Hurricanes were sent to France with British Expeditionary Force.

Regardless, during the „Phoney War“ the Spitfire squadrons engaged in

several important battles with Luftwaffe aircraf penetrating the British

airspace. However, the first Spitfire kills were the friendly aircraft. On

September 6th, during the incident known as „Battle of Barking Creek“

No. 74 Squadron flight A, led by Adolph „Sailor“ Malan, having been

vectored from the ground, shot down two No. 56 Squadron Hurricanes.

One of the Hurricane pilots, Montague Hulton-Harrop, perished. The further sorties were aimed at the real adversary although the tragedies

caused by friendly fire still ocurred. On October 16th, 1939, RAF fighters

engaged in their first successfull combat with German bombers over the

British territory when during the KG 30 raid on Scapa Flow No. 602 and

603 Squadrons shot down three Ju-88. In one of them, Hptm. Helmut Pohl,

I./KG 30 commander, was shot down and captured. On October 28th

both squadrons participated in the first kill of the German aircraft over

the British territory when they shot down He-111 over Firth of Forth. This

kind of combat was typical for the period of the Phoney War and the

Spitfire were, during this time, entering combat with German bombers

Spitfire Mk.I YT-O of the No 65 Squadron. After forced landing on a Dunkirk beach,

May 26, 1940. The aircraft has been ignited by it´s pilot, P/O Kenneth Hart, who was

successfuly avacuated from Dunkirk two days latter. He was in age of 18 that time.

attacking shipping, ports and similar targets. Till mid March 1939 RAF

fighters shot down 26 enemy airplanes over the Great Britain. Until the

decisive turn in the course of war in May 1940, Spitfire fleet grew by

another eight squadrons totalling 19 squadrons. After the beginning of

the German offensive in the west in May 1940, even these squadrons,

until then exclusively focused on homeland air defense, began, despite

A.M.Downing initial resistance, to more intensely participate in the air cover of the British Expeditionary Force and allied units in general. Soon,

better said surprisingly late, Spitfires, for the first time, met their most

important and famous adversaries, Messerschmitt Bf 109. At vee hours of

May 13th, No. 264 Squadron Defiants escorted by six Spitfires from No.

66 Squadron A flight, attacked 12./LG 1 Stuka formation diving on the

railway station in the vicinity of Hague. 5./JG 26 Bf 109E providing the

fighter cover for Stukas shot down five out of six attacking Defiants and

one of the escorting Spitfires. 12./LG 1 lost four Ju 87B in this combat and

5./JG 26 one Bf 109E. Thus both sides opened their score, so numerous

in the future.

In the meantime they parted almost even-handed. With the German

offensive advancing through Netherlands, Belgium and France and continuous surrounding of the allied units concentrated on Belgium and French

coasts, the Spitfires‘ deployment intensity over the Continent grew rapidly.

On May 20th the German tanks attacking through Belgium and France in

INFO Eduard - August 2020

No 11 Group Commanding Officer, AVM Keith Park, Newzeallander and World war One fighter ace.

westerly direction reached Channel La Manche, the German front turned

to the north and the Germans started to push the surrounded allied troops

to the area of the French port of Dunkirk. On May 24th the German troops reached channel Aa 30 km south-west from Dunkirk just to stop there

for two days. The precise reason of the famous Hitlers‘ „Haltbefehl“ is not

know, one train of thought is a supposed intention of marshal Goering to

finish the surrounded Allies and force them to surrender. British Expeditionary Force commander, marshal Gort, took advantage of the two day

break to relocate his troops and consolidate the defenses. On May 26th

evening, almost simultaneously with restarted German attack, British Admiralty commenced the operation „Dynamo“, evacuation of the surrounded allied units from Dunkirk area. Airspace defense above British Expeditionary Force area of operation was assigned to No. 11 Group

commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park. In the second half of May,

No. 11 Group was rapidly enforced by units allocated from No. 12

Group (A/V/M Leigh Mallory). Since May 21st intense air combat over

Dunkirk was picking up the pace with growing losses on both sides. In the

course of these two weeks of heavy fighting, when the squadrons of (not

only) Spitfires rotated even four times a day above British Expeditionary

Force area, the British fighters‘ deployment tactics was already gradually

changing in response to the more effective German tactics. Germans typically operated over the target area in the strength of the whole Gruppe

i.e. three Staffelen, whereas the Staffel was roughly the equivalent of the

British squadron. Therefore, the British gradually doubled the scouts of the

particular squadrons so as two squadrons operated in concert. Since the

end of May Fighter Command fighters operated in the formations of four

squadrons, kind of embryonic form of the future wings. On June 3rd,

1940, the operation „Dynamo“ was concluded by the successful evacuation of the large contingent of the surrounded British, French and Belgium

troops. The remaining allied units at Dunkirk, in the strength of roughly

40,000 men, mostly French soldiers defending evacuation beachhead,

capitulated on June 4th. Battle of France ended with capitulation of

France on June 22nd. Spitfire losses in May were 46 aircraft as opposed

to seventeen in June. During the week-long covering of the operation

„Dynamo“ RAF lost 49 Spitfires which indicates by itself the combat intensity during this operation. After several months of waging the war leisurly,

the Spitfire pilots experienced the modern war and over three weeks

gained invaluable combat experience. A number of future fighter aces

received their baptism of fire in combat with enemy fighters and claimed