Of Ethos and Inspiration

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  • David A. Thomas said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I was thinking, apart from the WIP threads, that a thread dedicated to the legend of the RAF might be fitting. As a Yank of English descent, the very phrase “Royal Air Force” conjures a host of images and feelings that are unique to that branch, evoking a certain sense of courage, style, and invincibility. It’s all legend, of course, but it’s certainly part of the equation.

    Anyone else have any thoughts on the subject that might add to our overall GB dynamic?

    5 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • Paul Barber said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    David, a capital idea! Thank you so much for the inspiration. It is appropriate to have a distinct area for this theme, and a thread of legend and history.

    Here is the start of the legend courtesy of the RAF100 website. Not the most colourful start – but an important historical stepping off point!

    This brief piece sets out some of the basic facts about the “World’s first Independent Air Force” :
    https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/news/the-world-s-first-independent-air-force/

  • david leigh-smith said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Great idea, David, and I’ve added some photos of tributes over London to the RAF.

    Salute to the ‘Few’ – the RAF monument on Victoria Embankment. I pass this every other day and always stop for a while. It’s a moving piece of work beautifully done.

    The memorial to the Polish airmen in West London. 29 Polish pilots were killed in the Battle of Britain alone.

    The RAF tribute on the embankment. I love this memorial, the way it catches the sun is a beautiful testimony.

    Just to add to the recent posts that we’ve seen regarding the ambiguity of war, being on a ‘side’ and the ideology of ‘right and wrong’, this is the statue of Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris.

    Known to some (even by the Allies at the time) as ‘Butcher’ Harris…

    A salute to Bomber Command.

    The RAF church (St. Clement Danes) in Westminster.

    5 additional images. Click to enlarge.

  • Paul Barber said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Fantastic stuff David, making me quite homesick I have to say! I can add a little to the pictorial, but I’m going to keep it short because I will wax overly lyrical if I am not careful!

    For those who may not be from those parts, Biggin Hill was an RAF fighter station in Kent, south of London. It put up planes almost every day during the Battle of Britain, and had previously been involved in The Battle of France and Dunkirk. Reduced periodically to rubble and craters, it stayed open throughout those most important chapters of the conflict for Britain. Its nickname ‘The Strongest Link’ was added to the station crest, and it was a nickname hard won. Spitfires, Hurricanes and Defiants flew from Biggin during the Battle.

    The place holds vivid memories for me since it represented a link to the second war for many people from the south of England, who would travel to there to the post-war airshows that always paid tribute to ‘The Few’. Biggin Hill was the station that defended London, the place my parents were born and lived, during the Battle and The Blitz. My mother, aged 12 at that time, was evacuated, with her brother, to Wales once ‘The Blitz’ began. They hated it being away from my Grandmother, and tried to run away regularly. My Father a few years older stayed put and had tales to tell. I think it is why they took me to those airshows – in tribute and to reminisce a little. Many shows finished with a lone Spitfire looping across the early evening sky in reverent silence.

    And speaking of myth and legend, the locals say that Biggin Hill and the areas around it are some of the most haunted parts of Britain. There are tales of the ghosts of airmen appearing by the side of the road and near sites that used to accommodate pilots during the conflict. Some saying you can hear them partying in the early hours and even playing darts! There is also tell that a ‘phantom Spitfire’ appears towards the end of January, performs a low pass and victory roll and disappears into the night!

    Here, to give a flavour of the memories of the more palpable inhabitants of the station, those veterans who were based there, is a brief film about ‘Biggin on The Bump’, if you have 20 minutes or so to spare. It needs no additional comment from me.

    Later in life, I took my wife and kids back to Biggin Hill, to the airshows there. The first time I saw the Red Arrows was as they flew back into Britain from a show in France as my family was having a day on the beach at Brighton – I guess I was under 10 but can’t be more specific. I had never heard such terrifying noise! I provided ear defenders for my 2 boys when we went back, but they took them off for a short while for ‘The Reds’, just to experience the sound!

    By that stage my interest in photography had begun in earnest. I went back through my hard drive today and dug these out. Funnily enough I can only ever remember there being one really sunny day there in all my visits, so the backgrounds are very flat (I added the background to the Harrier). Some of these shots have been on iModeler before, and some I digitally processed earlier today – even though they were all taken between 2010 and 2014! I hope they are of help technically, or are in some way add a little inspiration for builds, or even convince people to visit Biggin Hill – I believe there is a 2-day show there in August this year! I have only included RAF aircraft, please enjoy identifying them – especially the Spitfire and Hurricane variants!

  • David A. Thomas said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Remarkable photos, all. It’s an incredible story, and the larger narrative is crucial to breathe life into the factoids and even vignettes that we often present and read when fleshing out the backstory of individual builds.

  • david leigh-smith said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Amazing collection of photos, Paul. I think Biggin Hill will always have a very special place in the heart of anyone connected to London.
    Thanks for sharing these, they are really impressive and very evocative. Really capture a spirit.

  • David Mills said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Nice selection David here is Hugh Dowding

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • David Mills said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Wonderful photos Paul!

  • Greg Kittinger said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Beautiful photos, and backstory. I was in England in the early 60’s (brother was born in Essex county, we were stationed at Bentwaters AFB), and I visited a few times in my early and mid 20’s on ministry and business trips, but never got to see some of the famous landmarks, or what would be famous to me as opposed to others (like Biggin Hill!). I hope some day to make it back – once I get the last few kids out of the house, and save a bit for a nice vacation with the wife…

  • david leigh-smith said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Greg, if you ever do get over to London, please make sure you give me a nudge!

  • Chuck A. Villanueva said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    A testament of resolve during desperate times in early WWII. Though WWII is just a part of RAF history, it is quite a defining moment in it’s history where it could have ended right there as we know it today. My opinion, is how God had the right people at the right time in command, the men and women in the service doing their jobs. And most of all the pilots who flew the Hurricane, Spits, Defiants against a superior Luftwaffe. Able to prevail (there were more machines than pilots for a short time). I believe even pilots in training were sent up on missions. It was clearly desperate times. And lets hear it for the Polish pilots as well flying and doing very well in their adopted homeland. And of course some of the American pilots flying as well for the RAF. Have faith, and you will overcome adversity and evil.

  • David A. Thomas said 6 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I concur, Chuck. I know not everyone has Netflix, but for those that do (or can find this elsewhere), the short The Battle of Britain: The Real Story is very helpful in balancing the views and perceptions with hard statistics that show Britain was in a stronger position all along than many realized at the time. The “fog of war” is absolutely an aspect of any such conflict and those who do not recognize its effects do so at their own peril. In this case, I think people recognized that they didn’t fully know and couldn’t fully know, but the response was not despondency but rather resolve. What an irony that Hitler and Goering’s fear campaign actually may have backfired!

    This image…

    …say a great deal, and the idea behind it put a fire under the British people that really did make a difference.

    Here’s a link to the show I mentioned:
    https://www.netflix.com/title/80036418

  • Paul Barber said 5 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Dear All, especially those of Scottish ancestry – here is an interesting article just published by the BBC – on the Centenary of the birth of the RAF – perhaps Viscount Trenchard was not the father of the RAF after all!

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-43520885

    Either way, today is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of The Royal Air Force!

  • Paul Barber said 5 months, 3 weeks ago:

    This is pretty much essential viewing – some brilliant photos – Westland Wapiti IIa in flight over Iraq in 1932 – among many others!

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/gallery/2018/apr/01/100-years-of-the-raf-in-pictures

  • Paul Barber said 5 months, 3 weeks ago:

    And this one…

    Still in a Spitfire at 96!

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/raf-100-queen-centenary-royal-air-force-spitfire-battle-britain-veteran-allan-scott-a8283911.html#gallery

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