Page 1


INCE ITS INTRODUCTION EARLY IN 1941 THE MUCH IMPROVED MkV SPITFIRE HAD RULED THE ROOST OVER THE CHANNEL AND THE NEAR CONTINENT, SIGNIFICANTLY OUT-CLASSING THE LATEST VARIANT OF ITS MAIN RIVAL, THE MESSERSCHMITT Bf109F. IT WAS NO WONDER THAT THE BRITISH PILOTS’ CONFIDENCE WAS HIGH AS THEY FLEW A ROUTINE PATROL OVER THE SOUTH COAST IN THE AUTUMN OF THAT YEAR.

S

BANDITS AT THREE O’CLOCK. LET’S SEE THEM OFF!

STORY ALAN HEBDEN ART REZZONICO COVER JANEK MATYSIAK


4 AS THE SPITFIRES CLOSED ON THE THREE ENEMY AIRCRAFT THEIR FLIGHT LEADER FROWNED. THE GERMAN FIGHTERS WERE STUBBY-NOSED AIRCRAFT POWERED BY RADIAL ENGINES. NOT ONE-OH-NINES, THAT’S FOR SURE. RADIAL ENGINED JOBS, SO THEY COULD BE CURTISS MOHAWKS CAPTURED FROM THE FRENCH LAST YEAR. NOT THAT IT MATTERS. PREPARE TO ENGAGE!

ALMOST AS IF THEY WERE TAKING PART IN A CHOREOGRAPHED AIR DISPLAY THE GERMAN PLANES BROKE RIGHT AND LEFT, TURNING AS THEY WENT.

WHAT THE...?


5 MOMENTS LATER THEY WERE BEHIND THE SPITFIRES, BEARING DOWN REMORSELESSLY.

THEY’RE BEHIND US! USE YOUR SPEED TO GET CLEAR!

THE SPITFIRE PILOTS OPENED THEIR THROTTLES, FULLY EXPECTING TO LEAVE THE GERMAN PLANES BEHIND. INSTEAD, THEY SIMPLY CLOSED THE GAP AND OPENED FIRE WITH TWIN 20mm CANNONS MOUNTED IN EACH WING. IT WAS A DEVASTATING BARRAGE THAT MADE SHORT WORK OF TWO OF THE SPITFIRES. AAARGH!


6 THE FLIGHT LEADER IN THE SURVIVING SPITFIRE REACTED DESPERATELY, THROWING HIS AIRCRAFT INTO A TIGHT BANKING TURN.

GOT TO GET THEM IN MY GUNSIGHT.

BUT THE MANOEUVRE WAS CUT SHORT BY THE THIRD ATTACKER POWERING A HIGH SPEED STRAIGHT LINE THAT BROUGHT THE SPITFIRE SQUARELY INTO THE PILOT’S GUNSIGHT. ONCE AGAIN, THE NEW PLANE’S AWESOME FIREPOWER DELIVERED A SWIFT AND LETHAL BLOW.

OH NO YOU DON’T, ENGLANDER!

I’VE HAD IT!


7 TWENTY MINUTES LATER THE THREE GERMAN AIRCRAFT ARRIVED BACK AT THEIR AIRFIELD IN NORMANDY, EACH MAKING A LOW LEVEL PASS BEFORE LANDING, TO THE DELIGHT OF THE WATCHING GROUND CREWS. A VICTORY PASS FROM EACH OF THEM. IT SEEMS MAJOR VON RICHTER’S HAD A SUCCESSFUL HUNT!

THE STATION COMMANDER WAS ON HAND TO WELCOME BACK THE VICTORIOUS TRIO, LED BY BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACE MAJOR ARMIN VON RICHTER. A MARVELLOUS COMBAT DEBUT, HERR MAJOR. I HEAR YOU’RE CLAIMING THREE SPITFIRES.

QUITE RIGHT, HERR OBERST. THREE SHOT DOWN AT NO COST TO OURSELVES. THE ENEMY DOESN’T KNOW IT YET, BUT THE R.A.F. WILL SOON LEARN TO FEAR OUR NEW KING OF THE SKY, THE FOCKEWULF ONE-NINETY!


8 IT WAS A LITTLE WHILE BEFORE THE R.A.F. KNEW WHAT IT WAS UP AGAINST. THE INITIAL REPORTS THAT THE GERMANS WERE USING CAPTURED CURTISS MOHAWKS HAD MUDDIED THE WATERS, BUT VON RICHTER HELPED TO CLEAR THEM A COUPLE OF DAYS LATER AS HE CLAIMED ANOTHER MkV SPITFIRE OVER THE DORSET COAST.

ACH, THIS IS JUST TOO EASY!

GOOD GRIEF, THAT THING HAD FIFTY MILES AN HOUR ON ME AND ENOUGH FIREPOWER TO TAKE OUT HALF A SQUADRON IN ONE FELL SWOOP!

THE PILOT IN THIS CASE WAS A WING COMMANDER, ALSO A BATTLE OF BRITAIN ACE. AS HE WATCHED HIS NEMESIS STREAK AWAY FROM HIM HE KNEW ONE THING WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY. THAT BUTCHER BIRD IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT A CURTISS MOHAWK!

TAKE A GOOD LOOK, ENGLANDER. YOU’LL BE SEEING A LOT MORE OF US!


9 IT WASN’T LONG BEFORE THE R.A.F. KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THE NEWCOMER WAS, BUT THE KNOWLEDGE WAS ACADEMIC. BY 1942 INCREASING NUMBERS OF Fw190s HAD ESTABLISHED LOCAL AIR SUPERIORITY OVER THE CHANNEL AND SOUTHERN NORTH SEA, SEVERELY DISRUPTING COASTAL COMMAND OPERATIONS.

FOCKE-WULF... AAARGH!

THE NEW GERMAN FIGHTER WAS BECOMING A SERIOUS THREAT, BUT FINDING A WAY OF DEFUSING IT SEEMED FRAUGHT WITH DIFFICULTIES. THE FACT IS, GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE NO NEW FIGHTER DESIGNS ON THE DRAWING BOARD. THE MARK FIVE SPITFIRE WAS A GREAT IMPROVEMENT ON THE ORIGINAL, BUT EVEN ITS MAKERS AREN’T SURE IT CAN BE IMPROVED AGAIN.

WHILE THE FOCKE-WULF IS JUST AT THE BEGINNING OF ITS DESIGN LIFE. WE JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT MAKES IT TICK. IF WE COULD EXAMINE AND FLY AN INTACT MODEL, WE’D BE ABLE TO WORK OUT ITS STRENGTHS AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, ITS WEAKNESSES.

HIGH-LEVEL COMMITTEES ALWAYS DELEGATED THE NUTS-AND-BOLTS WORK TO EXPERT PLANNERS, WHO TOILED AWAY INSIDE THE AIR MINISTRY TRYING TO UNRAVEL THE PROBLEM. WE COULD JUST KEEP OUR FINGERS CROSSED AND HOPE A JERRY PILOT OBLIGES US BY ACCIDENTALLY LANDING A FOCKE-WULF OVER HERE.

SO IT’S BACK TO BASICS. IF WE WANT A ONE-NINETY SO BADLY WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO STEAL ONE!


10 ON PAPER IT WAS SIMPLE ENOUGH. COMMANDOS WOULD RAID AN Fw190 AIRFIELD NEAR THE FRENCH COAST AND SEIZE ONE OF THE PLANES, TAKING WITH THEM A PILOT WHO WOULD FLY IT BACK HOME. IN PRACTICE THE PITFALLS WERE MANY AND DEEP. WE NEED A SKILLED PILOT ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH THE LATEST GERMAN AIRCRAFT, WHO UNDERSTANDS GERMAN AND CAN LOOK AFTER HIMSELF ALONGSIDE THE COMMANDOS.

AND ALL HE’D HAVE TO DO IS STRAP HIMSELF INTO AN UNKNOWN AIRCRAFT, ALMOST CERTAINLY IN A COMBAT SITUATION, GET STARTED, TAKE-OFF AND FLY TO BRITAIN WITHOUT CRASHING OR GETTING SHOT DOWN IN SHORT ORDER. SOUNDS LIKE AN ABSOLUTE DODDLE... I DON’T THINK!

NO-ONE SAID IT WOULD BE EASY. THE R.A.F. HAS A SPECIAL SECTION DEVOTED TO EVALUATING CAPTURED ENEMY AIRCRAFT. WE CAN START LOOKING THERE.

TWO DAYS LATER A COUPLE OF YOUNG LADS WERE WALKING HOME FROM SCHOOL ALONG A LANE IN THE CUMBERLAND FELLS WHEN THEY SPOTTED AN APPROACHING FIGHTER AIRCRAFT. IT’S NOT A SPITFIRE, AND IT’S NOT A HURRICANE. WHAT IS IT?

IT...IT’S A MESSERSCHMITT ONE-OH-NINE! QUICK, HIDE!


comm_4543_teaser