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Published on Jan 15, 2008
Battle of Malta - Spitfire Mark 5. Ladie Lucas tells about Malta and the hard period later with the Focke Wulf FW190 and of the releif, when Spitfire Mark 9 became available. In this period Johnnie Johnson scored a good deal of his many air victories, that made him the highest scoring of all allied fighterpilots (USSR excluded) with 48 victories in his Spitfire - all over enemy FIGHTERS (when a fast and well armed fighter shot down a slow and unarmed enemy transportplane it too counted as an victory). The US-figures for their aces' victories are in most cases far from reality and are only aknowledged by people, who do'nt know, how they came to (ref. R.L. "Dixie" Alexander, who flew with the American Eagle-squadrons and later with US 8th Army Air Force on day-raids against Germany, Ladie Lucas - leader of the highest scoring quadron during the Battle of Malta, and Group Captain W.G.G. Duncan Smith). It is a fact, that Pat Pattle from South Africa, Johnnie Johnson from Great Britain and Richard Bong from USA - three extremely competent fighterpilots - in all had 129 air victories - an average of 43. The german aces with astronomical figures for airvictories, scored the main part against outdated russian planes and later against ineperienced russian pilots.
September 12. 1942 there was a dogfight in thinner air than any other. A special lightened Spitfire Mark 9 fought a Junkers Ju86R spyplane and bomber from Höhenkampfkommando, and at a time both airplanes were highher than 43.000 feet (and there really is'nt much air there). Nobody was hurt and the Junkers got away, because the right wings cannon on the Spitfire was frozen, and when the left cannon fired the recoil caused the Spitfire turn leftwards. After the war both pilots met and had a friendly chat about their duel. But the fighter, that flew highest of all, was a Spitfire Mark 5 with laughter gas injected in the engines air-intake. The plane which had no pressure cabin! reached 50.000 feet over the Mediteranean. The photo recognaissance Spitfire Mark 19 flew much higher than any of the contemporary jets. The Spitfire Mark 9 shown in the museum has a five-bladed propeller. In reality the standard Mark 9 had a four-bladed propeller. But during the war there constantly were modifications and experiments and during repairs and maintenence in the field there often were used parts from one Mark on another. Besides all Marks could have clipped wings or fulllength wings, that again could be chosen among 2 - 3 and finally 4 types with different armament. So at times one could hardly find two identical Spitfires in the same squadron ! As the war went on, Spitfires served on all fronts the world over. Last Mark was the Mark 14 with over 2.000 HP, two cannons plus two or four 0.50 machineguns. Chieftestpilot Alec Henshaw along with other testpilots tested all the different Spitfires from the fatories to locate problems, so that they could be corrected. At times it could be a dangerous job and Alec Henshaw flew more different Spitfires than any other - he simply flew all Marks and their subtypes - and got away with it.