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Air Vice Marshal Johnnie Johnson CB, CBE, DSO**, DFC* (deceased)
|James Edgar Johnson was born in Barrow on Soar near Loughborough on 9th March 1915. He lived in Melton, the first house on the left of Welby Lane as you leave Nottingham Road, with his parents - his father being a local Police Inspector. Johnnie qualified as a Civil Engineer at Nottingham University in 1937. He joined the RAFVR and did his flying training at 21 E&RFTS, Stapleford before enlisting for full-time service in the RAF at the beginning of WWII. He first went to ITW at Jesus College, Cambridge, completed his ab initio flying at 22 EFTS, Cambridge and his intermediate and advanced flying at 5 FTS, Sealand. Johnnie Johnson joined 92 Spitfire squadron in August 1940, but it was with 616 squadron that he scored his first victory on June 26th 1941 while flying with Douglas Baders Tangmere Wing. He was squadron leader of 610 squadron in July 1942, but it was as Wing Commander of the Kenley Wing in 1943 that his scores really started to mount. He was W/C of 144 wing during D-Day and led 127 and 125 wings until the end of the war when we has the topscoring allied fighter pilot with 38 air victories. Inspired by the great British WW 1 aces like Bishop and Ball, Johnnie Johnson dreamed often as a child of becoming an R.A.F. pilot. The young Johnson enthusiastically joined the Volunteer Reserve at the first opportunity. After completing his initial flight training Johnson was posted to 616 Squadron at Kenley. However, this Squadron had been hit hard with the loss of six pilots and five wounded, and the unit was withdrawn to Coltishall prior to Johnson encountering combat. With only 12 hours of flight time in a Spitfire this was no doubt advantageous. In February 1941 Billy Burton moved the Squadron to Tangmere. Douglas Bader then arrived to take over the Tangmere Wing, and fly with the 616 Squadron. Johnnie, Alan Smith and Cocky Dundas were chosen to fly with Bader. During the summer of 1940 the Battle of Britain was at its peak. Bader took the time to instruct Johnson carefully in both the art of flying and the skills necessary to attain success in aerial combat. Baders idea of an afternoon off duty, according to Johnson, was to take his section over the Channel in hopes of running into Adolph Galland and his Abbeyville Boys. On August 19, 1941 Bader failed to return from a mission when 616 Squadron was hit hard by a group of Messerschmitt 109s. Johnson flew on in Baders absence, and in the summer of 1942 he was promoted to command of the 610 Squadron. In 1943 he was promoted again to Wing Commander of the Canadian Spitfire Wing in Kenley. By that time Johnson had attained eight confirmed victories. During the spring and summer of 1943 Johnnie led the Canadian unit on more than 140 missions over Northwest Europe. Johnsons squadron attained more than 100 victories during this period, and Johnnies own personal score rose to 25. After a short leave, Johnson was posted to lead the 144 Canadian Spitfire Wing. On D-Day Johnson led his Wing on four missions in support of the Allied invasion. On June 8, Johnsons Wing was the first Spitfire group to land in newly liberated France. Johnson continued fighting in France through September 1944 when he achieved his 38th and final victory. Patrolling the Rhine Johnsons unit jumped nine 109s which were flying beneath them in the opposite direction. Five of the 109s were downed. Early in 1945 Johnson was promoted to Group Captain and put in command of the 125 Wing, which was equipped with the Spitfire XIV. Flying from former Luftwaffe airfields the 125 Wing assisted in the final Allied push to Berlin. Johnson attributed much of his aerial combat success to his ability to make tight turning maneuvers. Johnsons tightest call came on August 19, 1942 when he was unable to dislodge an Me-109 from his tail during the raid on Diepppe. Johnson raced his Spitfire flat out at a group of Royal Navy ships. The usual barrage of flak and tracer fire came right at him, and fortunately for the ace, missed his Spitfire but effectively eliminated the brave pilot on his tail. During the Korean War Johnson flew fighter-bombers with the USAF. Following his retirement from the R.A.F. in 1966 Johnson founded the Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust that has provided homes for more than 4000 disabled and elderly persons, and his sixth book Winged Victory was published in 1995. Johnson flew many of the Spitfire models. His favorite was the beautiful Mark IX, the best of them all. Johnnie passed away in 2001 at the age of 85, in Derbyshire, England.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Spitfire||Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, maximum speed for mark I Supermarine Spitfire, 362mph up to The Seafire 47 with a top speed of 452mph. maximum ceiling for Mk I 34,000feet up to 44,500 for the mark XIV. Maximum range for MK I 575 miles . up to 1475 miles for the Seafire 47. Armament for the various Marks of Spitfire. for MK I, and II . eight fixed .303 browning Machine guns, for MKs V-IX and XVI two 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 browning machine guns. and on later Marks, six to eight Rockets under the wings or a maximum bomb load of 1,000 lbs. Designed by R J Mitchell, The proto type Spitfire first flew on the 5th March 1936. and entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1938, with 19 squadron based and RAF Duxford. by the outbreak of World war two, there were twelve squadrons with a total of 187 spitfires, with another 83 in store. Between 1939 and 1945, a large variety of modifications and developments produced a variety of MK,s from I to XVI. The mark II came into service in late 1940, and in March 1941, the Mk,V came into service. To counter the Improvements in fighters of the Luftwaffe especially the FW190, the MK,XII was introduced with its Griffin engine. The Fleet Air Arm used the Mk,I and II and were named Seafires. By the end of production in 1948 a total of 20,351 spitfires had been made and 2408 Seafires. The most produced variant was the Spitfire Mark V, with a total of 6479 spitfires produced. The Royal Air Force kept Spitfires in front line use until April 1954.|
|Me109||Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.|
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