Museum Pieces

From a chart on a museum wall above a preserved Spitfire in Stoke on Trent: …

20334 Spitfires built
544 pilots and aircrew killed in the Battle of Britain
The Spitfire could reach 450 mph at the end of the war
[360 miles per hour at the start of it]
230 planes survive in various states of repair
87 flying-hours was the life expectancy of a Battle of Britain pilot
55 still flying [when the board went up on the wall?]
21 major design improvements
19 squadrons during the Battle of Britain, with
12 or 24 aircraft in the squadron
£1.oo -scrap value in 1946. [I think they cost a quarter of a million each at the start of the war.]

Some more numbers; from a log extract on display there:
A typical "action" was:
Opening fire at 200 yards, closing to 75 yards
3 bursts of 8 x 3.03’s in 4 second bursts used 2484 rounds.
[I think the fire rate was about 11 seconds maximum to discharge them fully.]


High Flight

Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sunsplit clouds and done an hundred things you have not dreamed of…

Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence
Hovering there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air

Up, up the long delirious burning blue, I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle, flew.

And while with silent lifting mind, I’ve trod the high untresspassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

PO John Gillespie Magee
412 Sqaudron, RCAF.

A US citizen with an English mother and a childhood spent here, he joined the RCAF when the USA was still neutral.

His name would go in at 19 on that board, I suppose.
The age he was when he died.

I presume that the "a childhood spent here" predated hs military service.
Odd to think he wouldn't be allowed to vote in any country he belonged to at that age, wasn#t likely to get a drink of whisky in those days though he'd be allowed beer in Britiain (not sure about North American laws.)

He would have needed parental consent to get married but been legally entitled to engage in sexual congres or whatever the polite term is for …….

Odd that the most mature people are never asked to engage in the bloodletting they cause. 19 seems a daft age to be making capital decisions.

Tis ane funie olde worlde.


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