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British jet fighters initiated jet vs. jet warfare when they fought Hitler's Nazi German V-1 attacks on London in World War II.The V1 attack on London began on the night of 13/14 June 1944 from bases in Normandy. On 29 March 1945 the last one to fall on Britain was shot down by gunners in Suffolk. A total of 10,500 missiles were launched, of which 3957 were destroyed by the defences - 3531 reached England, 2420 falling in the London area. No fewer than 6184 people were killed and 17,981 seriously injured. Indeed, it could have been much worse, for by the end of the war the Germans had manufactured close to 32,000 flying bombs. The defences put forward to guard against the V1 were formidable - 23,000 men and women with their guns, radar and communications networks were installed on coastal sites. Squadrons of Britain's newest Spitfires, the F XIVs, and Hawker Tempest Vs were kept at home to battle the new menace. While the Spitfire F XIV and Tempest V had excellent low-level speed and were able to catch the V1, there was one aircraft that was much faster. Rushed into action on 22 July 1944 to help counter the V1 threat, Britain's Gloster Meteor I was the first jet fighter to enter RAF service. At low and medium altitudes the Meteor was faster than its piston-engined contemporaries, which in turn made it perfectly suited to 'anti-Diver' V1 operations. On 4 August the Meteor scored its first V1 victory. Having just closed in on a flying bomb, Flg Off Dean of No 616 Sqn squeezed the trigger but his guns jammed. Using the Meteor's superior speed, he was able overtake the missile and, using his wing tip, he tipped the craft over and sent it crashing into the ground. This was the first time a jet-powered enemy aircraft had been destroyed by a jet fighter without a shot being fired! It was also the world's first jet versus jet encounter. As the only jet fighter squadron in Allied service in Europe, No 616 Sqn would go on to shoot down 13 V1s. A small number perhaps, but the interceptions between the V1 and Britain's Gloster Meteor were historic, and ushered in a new era of aerial combat.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The success of No 126 Wing began before the D-Day landings, but its phenomenal performance after the Normandy invasion has no simple explanation. True, it profited from being in all the right places at all the right moments during the war - D-Day and the breakout, Falaise Gap, Operation Market Garden, the winter offensive in the Ardennes, and crossing the Rhine into Germany. But other wings with 2nd TAF participated in the same operations, without achieving nearly the same success as No 126. As a self-contained unit, the five squadrons of Spitfires of No 126 Wing were self-sufficient in everything they did. When the order came to move - men, fuel, ammunition and everything vital for its operation picked up and drove to the next farmer's field or suitable meadow. Often traveling in the dark on bombed out roads, these ground units did an amazing job of not only finding their new bases of operation, but preparing the field for the fighters ready for the next day's flights. Every landing strip was temporary and just miles from the frontline. Home was a tent, a slit trench a place of safety. Dysentery was a common companion, making some pilots too weak to fly. Often they were shelled by German artillery and mortars, and many times they found themselves behind enemy lines. This is a truly unique look at one of the most effective air force units ever devised. Before D-Day 1944, a mobile fighter wing had never been tried before, but after the Normandy landings the ground forces could not move without their valuable support. This book examines the wing's operations chapter by chapter as defined by the major ground operations. It also highlights the effectiveness of the Spitfire in the fighter-bomber role, as well as in its more familiar air-superiority mission - the Spitfire clearly dominated the skies over the advancing armies and proved itself once again to be the most effective fighter of World War 2. But as successful as the wing was, it was only as strong as the young men who gave so much of their physical strength, intelligence and courage to make it happen. Squadron biographies, therefore, are also included, as well as biographies of the top aces and a close examination of the day-to-day operations of a mobile fighter wing.
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