Sunday, September 11, 2005

Battle of Britain Day This Week



Growing up British (and on Royal Air Force bases surrounded by reminders of the attempt by Hitler to destroy the UK's air defences as a prelude to a Nazi invasion) the national legend that grew out of 15th September 1940 has persisted in my bones despite my deeply held internationalism and skeptical attitude to patriotism anywhere outside of a sports arena. However despite whatever intelleftual misgivings about Churchill and class and 1940s Britain I might have at my most lofty and esoteric moments, frankly from a leftist-progressive viewpoint the achievement of the Royal Air Force in pushing back the forces of fascism has to be seen as one of the greatest moments of the 20th Century. As much as I love the sentiment, Woodie Guthrie's guitar didn't kill fascists as it proclaimed: .303 cal machine guns* mounted four to a wing did. George Orwell sums the paradox up nicely in "The Lion and the Unicorn", written in 1941.

So caveats aside, for those of you interested in learning out the 15th September or Battle of Britain in general, click the above links.

And for the truly dweebish, here's the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the powerplant in both the Spitfire (pictured above) and Hurricane fighters that patrolled the skies of Britain.

(*In order to forestall the professional umbrage of my father, I acknowledge that the Spit picture at the top of this post shows a later mark armed with 20mm cannons. I'm sure if prodded he'll tell me exactly which mark. This after all is the man who complained to curators at London's Science Museum that they had the wrong model propeller on a 1917 Sopwith Camel. This is one of the reasons I love and admire him).

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

er well it's obviously a Mark IX,

Dad

ps the aeroplane in the Science Museum was an SE5a not a Sopwith Camel and they had an earlier SE5 prop on it

pps sorry; I can't help it

weasel said...

That is why I can make the link between kindly, avuncular, poet home dad and pure maths, fix-a-helicopter-with-an-oven-door, leader-of-men work dad. Its all in the details.

And I was going to guess a mark IX but feared looking foolish- learnt at dad's knee out of "Observer's Book of Aircraft" while othe kids buggered out about with insects and magnifying glasses

weasel said...

And for those confused by the tale of the 1914-18 propeller, here's the wrong propeller on the right plane (an SE5) and here's an SE5a with correct propeller also. Transpose the SE5 prop on the SE5a and surely its plain to see how this caused my dad much umbrage.

Anonymous said...

I have had to take a second look as it's been worrying me that it might have been a Mark V (probably a Mk Vb, certainly not a Vc even though we cannot see the oil cooler from this angle) as I couldn't quite make out the shape of the engine exhausts (didn't sleep a wink last night). On balance I think I'll stick to Mk IX as it looks like a Griffon rather than a Merlin but it is a bit fuzzy so I could be wrong.

Pater

Anonymous said...

A Mk IX, the rivet pattern around the gun blisters is all wrong for a Mk V, and that is definately a Griffon engine, don't know why I dithered, must be pressure of work.

Dad

Anonymous said...

Something has gone terribly wrong here. Terribly wrong, indeed. The weasel appears to have relied on the September 11, 1921 Premier Broadcast Networks morning prep suggestion sheet for today's show. How un-original! Please return to the Bush Administration bashing at once.

Boss Hogg

weasel said...

Dad- sons are for mothing if they are not for feeding neuroses. I shall be sure to lay in a stock of melatonin for my next aircraft query lest the paternal head rest uneasy on the pillow for fear f having misidentified the jesus nut.

Boss Hogg- now that I know that you are lurking in the cyber shadows I will have to be careful not to recycle old material. I shall however pontificate ina particularly pink colored English way. Thanks for stopping by, old friend.

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