View Full Version : Spitfire Ace - TV

6th Jan 2004, 20:37
A new series starting Monday 12th Jan 9:00 on Channel 4

quote: (From the Radio Times)

During WW2 the Spitfire and its pilots were vital to the Allies efforts t odefeat Hitlers Germany. Now, four young pilots compete for the chance to undergo the same operational training available to the BoB pilots - just 9 hours flying a Spitfire before being rushed to front line squadrons - and to find out what qualities these veterans possessed.

might be worth watching.....

7th Jan 2004, 15:38
I think there will be a lot of footage of Carolyn Grace's Spitfire, ML407, for this one.

Just going through the book at the moment - pretty good stuff!

8th Jan 2004, 15:41
Amusingly, a different "tabloid-style" TV listings mag I was thumbing through last night mistakenly gives the impression that WWII Spitfire pilots went from absolute ab initio to combat in Spitfires in 9 hours and that this is what the C4 programme sets out to emulate... well, not the combat bit obviously... :p

Another myth in the making...

The programme itself should make good viewing

8th Jan 2004, 16:28
You mean they aren't finishing up by using live ammo on the guinea-pigs? Shame! I'd get a telly for that. Maybe...

9th Jan 2004, 10:30
"First Light" - by Geoff Wellum.

He makes a cracking good job of telling how it was really done. I think he had a total of 154 hours on Tiger Moths and Harvards before arriving on the squadron (aged 18 yrs 9 mths) with zero hours on Spitfire or any other aircraft. Flying is one thing, but the RAF did expect their fighter pilots to be able to navigate back to base once they'd finished shooting down Jerries.

They didn't expect him to fly in combat until he'd mastered the machine though - and they didn't have any two-seaters at the time either.

Through difficulties to the cinema

9th Jan 2004, 15:22
Plenty of re-used Battle of Britain movie footage, from what I gathered from the advert.

Pity the Real Aeroplane Company's Buchon wasn't flying when this was made - would have made proceedings much more interesting! ;)

Tiger_ Moth
13th Jan 2004, 06:41
I wish i'd heard about this earlier so that i could have applied to be in it!

Say again s l o w l y
13th Jan 2004, 07:16
Excellent program, especially the interviews with the likes of Geoffrey Wellum and others.

Nice to see Carolyn's machine flying, rather than with it's engine in bits like at the moment.

Most of the gun camera footage was new to me and very thought provoking.

Well done C4, more of this than any of that reality/Big Brother cr*p.

13th Jan 2004, 07:46
I thought it was a well presented program and I really enjoyed it. As for the interview with Geoffrey Wellum, I was surprised to hear him say that - during the battle - he had thoughts along the lines of "Do we really need to be doing this [fight & kill each other] in the 20th Century?"
He must have been quite a deep thinker to have such thoughts at such a young age and in such a desperate situation. Pleased to see him looking well though...
Am I right in thinking that Billy Drake has died since the making of this program?

13th Jan 2004, 15:10
Thoroughly enjoyed it - "well done Channel 4, home and tea, for once you deserve it!"

Nice to see Caroline talking about the aeroplane and Nick. Think she should be up for an OBE...

For those who are wondering, ML407 isn't the only two-seat Spitfire - there are four in this country, two of which are being rebuilt after accidents, plus at least two in the USA.

And perhaps Brendan has added to quotation folklore: "Make love to the sky, don't shag it!". Well, I hadn't heard that one before...

astir 8
13th Jan 2004, 15:37
Watched it - with extreme jealousy

But some of that early gun camera film was extremely interesting -clearly the 8 x 303 armament being used and equally clearly a lot of ammunition being blasted off in the general direction of the enemy from way too far away

But the resemblance to my efforts on "Combat Flight Simulator" were quite startling - always either two firkin far away or two firkin close for comfort

13th Jan 2004, 15:43
There was something about this on the Key Publishing forums recently (in fact, might still be on-going)

The four UK-based two-seaters are:

MJ627 - M & P Bayliss, flown by Paul Day, East Kirkby, Lincs
ML407 - Carolyn Grace, Dufxord,
PT462 - Anthony Hodgson, Wales
PV202/IAC 161 - ARCo, Duxford (under rebuild)

US-based two-seaters:
MT818 (prototype MkVIII two-seater) - Jack Erickson, Oregon (I think)
MJ772 - Seattle Museum of Flight (again, I think) airworthy and with rear cockpit faired over
TE308 - Bill Greenwood, Colorado

astir8 - know what you mean! Get in close, hammer the ******s then get out, quick! ;)

Gun-cam footage was very haunting in my opinion - especially stuff like that.

13th Jan 2004, 16:30
What a wonderful experience!
I too am extremely jealous but I still think the women could have given the guys a run for their flying aces!

:D :p

Oscar Duece
13th Jan 2004, 16:54
Well I thought it was a little bland. Re-showing things we have all seen before. I felt they really draged it out the hour.

I would have liked some more depth into flying the moth and the spit. Yes it's nice to see them in motion. But there was no sense of how you fly them or their individual traits from a pilot point of view, this program was about pilots after all.

Now I know no-one is going to let you drill holes in their machines. But the in flight camera work could have been better. Having just returned from flying a T-6 (Harvard) in Florida, I was very impressed with their in flight videos, especially the one between you legs showing what you are really doing.

13th Jan 2004, 19:37
Have to agree with OD really.

I would like to have seen a bit more background leading to the selection (where did they get the poseur with the surf-bum hair and Wham stubble?) and a lot more of the early flying - especially debriefs.

However, interviews with the vets was really interesting and not the tabloid sensationalism I half-expected. Flying footage was fairly good, but not as good or as varied as it could have been.

All in all, interesting and looking promising, but clearly a programme on a budget - not enough crashes in it I suppose for a flying documentary.:rolleyes:

13th Jan 2004, 20:38
PP - I thought witchdoctor was referring to the awful C4 'documentary' on the Comet which presumably had a bigger budget because it could invent some 'sensational new information' about how the crashes were covered up.

PPRuNe Pop
13th Jan 2004, 22:38
Point taken. Benefit given - perhaps a doubtful choice of words.

13th Jan 2004, 22:46
I caught only the last twenty minutes, but that included enough interesting footage and interviews to persuade me to get in earlier next Monday evening, although I agree that there could have been more discussion/illustration of the aircraft's handling qualities from a pilot's point of view.

Note the usual passing reference: "oh, and there were some Hurricanes about as well". It's understandable that programs such as this present the traditional simplified version of the Battle as the victory of daring underdogs against fearful odds (including all those 110s referred to at one point, without mentioning that they were rubbish). Of course the Battle was all that, but also a victory of planning, organisation, leadership, technology and production (none of these factors in any way belittlling the achievements of the pilots) and the full story is no less interesting or stirring than the short version.

Most reality shows seem to look for punters whose main quality is an inability to cut up their own food, but the selection procedure here must have been somewhat more sophisticated. No doubt they were looking for blokes in their late teens/early twenties a la 1940, but if I'd seen the ad I'd have done the appropriate WW2 thing and lied like mad about my age. Drat, too late, and, oops, not so easy to lie about my obviously middle aged girth and ever multiplying chins.

14th Jan 2004, 01:27
The question is....who's going to get the 9 hours in the back seat?

Personally, on a very basic level, the magic of the machine just shone through as all the interviewees and the prospective pilots gave Both the Tiger and the Spitfire the thumbs up.

All those smiles......nuff saidjavascript:smilie(':ok:')

Tiger_ Moth
15th Jan 2004, 00:13
I agree there should have been a bit more about the current pilots flying the moths and spits.

One thing that always annoys me about flying on tv is the way they often show you a shot of the camera looking back at the guy whos flying so that you only get a glimpse of whats going on outside as it rushes behind them. I don't want to see some guys face, it'd be better if they showed you a shot looking through the windscreen so you got a pilot's eye view.

I am late teens/early twenties and I am extremely interested in the Second World War so I'm really annoyed I didn't hear about this earlier. Maybe they would have thought already flying Moths was cheating though.

Still a good program anyway.

15th Jan 2004, 05:56
My best guess is that it's going to be the Manchester lad, because he's more in awe and will say more emotive things than the RAF guy - particularly apparent when he talked about fighting in a Spit, he was very overwhelmed at how they could do that and fly at the same time with so little time on the aircraft. The RAF guy, brought up in that mold, was more "well, combat's something that you're trained for" - wouldn't attract the viewers.

That was might thought anyway - probably blasted out of the water next week!

Brilliant to see the BoB veterans talking about flying though - you could still see the sense of excitement in their faces and their voices - as if it was yesterday.

15th Jan 2004, 08:59
tiger moth: I wish i'd heard about this earlier so that i could have applied to be in it!

witchdoctor: I would like to have seen a bit more background leading to the selection (where did they get the poseur with the surf-bum hair and Wham stubble?)

Hi there,

I went along to the selection for this programme in May up at Elstree aerodrome. I got a call at work from the club that my name had been put forward for the selection as I met their criteria (can't recall what they were) and would I agree to go along? So like with a lot of things in flying I suppose, you don't apply, you get invited...

Anyway, I didn't get through :D

It was quite informal. We were all interviewed in the Cabair building by two young ladies :cool: One guy had more hours than C4 would have considered "realistic" for the tyro theme, so he left quite early.

My feelings were similar to what FNG writes in his post. I was excited by the fact that I might get to fly both a spitty and a tiger moth, but in the back of my mind I had the feeling I was on Aviation Big Brother which made me cringe and think why can't it just be normal without the wretched cameras...why won't they just let me and the aeroplanes be so we can spend some time together alone...oh well.

I only found out the whole thing was actually going ahead through someone I met on the day. Apparently there were some problems regarding the RAF and C4 using the Spit. I don't know any of the details though. I missed the programme on Monday but from what I hear it was no big deal. If it was anything like the Dambusters one it was probably a bit of a flop. I'll try and catch it next week and if I have any more thoughts I'll post them here.

15th Jan 2004, 15:32
I think the Dambusters programme was rigged, to be honest.

Let's face it, the modern RAF crew apparently missed the target, but after "analysis" they found a "computer fault" and they'd actually hit it! Conspiracy! ;)

Spitfire Ace was good though, IMO.

John (Gary) Cooper
19th Jan 2004, 18:31
Just to bring this to the top.

Monday 19th January Channel 4 2100 hrs, part 2

20th Jan 2004, 04:56
G in a Spit.

Is it true that it was quite possible to pull the wings off a Spitfire, but not a Hurricane? Any idea of their limits?

20th Jan 2004, 05:18
I'm so glad they are spending most of the programme with those admirable old pilots and a token amount on the 'new recruits'. No doubt the balance will change in the next two episodes, but it is just wonderful to learn new things, even insignificant details, about the BoB and what it was like for those gentlemen. It's also nice to see a few misconceptions shot down too.

Philip Whiteman
20th Jan 2004, 15:28
I think the makers of Spitfire Ace really deserve a lot of credit, on the basis of programmes 1 & 2. Given the Comet programme - which ended up with C4 having to apologise, when the Broadcasting Standards Commission found against the TV company - we might not have expected much: instead we get the real Battle of Britain heroes telling their story at length, in the manner of television documentaries from the 1960s and 1970s (what you might call the 'concentration span and credit-with-intelligence era of television').

Plus, of course, the bonus of cockpit cameras and first-rate sound.

AND the PPL won through! (Here, I must admit to an unashamed bias.)

PPRuNe Pop
20th Jan 2004, 17:38
I agree. It is a very good programme and with the comments of the BoB pilots it makes it very watchable and interesting. It is a pity though, that when 'showing' a picture of "Sailor" Milan of 74 Squadron fame, they showed a picture of Roland "Bee" Beamont instead!

Anyway very good. And no doubt that Dave Mallon deserves his chance to try 'combat.'

John (Gary) Cooper
20th Jan 2004, 18:24
How humble the older aces appear, what a refreshing programme, when we are so used to seeing utter [email protected]. I don't suppose a programme such as this would cost any more than one of the soap episodes where the artistes get their over inflated pay cheques so why is it we have to put up with so much rubbish, so often?

20th Jan 2004, 19:14
I'm amazed how fit the ex B of B pilots still appear to be, especially Geoffrey Wellum. I gather that when the B of B exhibition opened at Duxford the decibel count from the pilots gathered there was about equal to a Merlin at full boost. Several gave the impression that if there had been a few leather jackets and a couple of Mark 1 Spitfires available then they would have been off chasing the Hun.
With regard to the query about whether you could pull the wings off a Spitfire I heard Ray Hanna refute this at the meeting held to allay the fears of the local villagers round Duxford in the light of this year's incidents. I think I understood him to say that they could withstand something like 20g, far in excess of what a pilot without special kit could withstand. Of course if you had blacked out then those sorts of limits could be exceeded but in "normal" combat you would have been in the relatively safe range of 5-6G.
Perhaps one of the veterans could confirm this if they are on this site.

Rallye Driver
20th Jan 2004, 19:14
I don't know the limits off the top of my head, but I think the only problems they had with wings coming off were with the early Seafires, where the wings folded to fit on the carrier lifts.

I recall from Jeffrey Quill's autobiography that the structural failures which did occur were the result of C of G problems, which they cured by fitting bob weights to the elevators.

My uncle worked for Supermarine as an inspector and I remember him telling me about one of the later Spits (a Mark XIV I think) which they had back at Eastleigh for repair after it had tangled with an FW190.

The Spitfire pilot had got away by going into a steep dive followed by the 190. He managed to pull out at low level, but the 190 piled into the ground. When he got the Spitfire back to base, they found that the wing spars had been bent up about 10 degrees.

The aircraft was sent back to Supermarine for a thorough inspection and for a repair schedule to be formulated. It was eventually repaired and sent back to the squadron.

The spars on the Griffon Spits were solid rather than nested tubes, but it does show they were very strong indeed.

Re: the TV programme. I saw the second episode last night, and think it is getting better and better. As others have said, the veterans came across really well. Especially moving was Bob Doe saying how he had shot down a 109, but couldn't bring himself to finish off the obviously crippled aircraft. The pilot was subsequently rescued and went on to shoot down more RAF aircraft. What a dilemma to be faced with?!!

Looking forward to next Monday's episode.

RD :ok:

John Farley
20th Jan 2004, 22:11
Rallye Driver

Donít get me wrong please, this is not a smartarse nitpick, but I would like to clarify something in your post which could mislead some pilots. What was fitted to cure the effects of an aft CG making the aeroplane too light on the controls when pulling G (and so risking blackout for the pilot or overstress of the aeroplane) was a positive bob weight to the control run connected to the elevator. Positive in this context means it is fitted in the sense to pull the stick forward when g is applied. You can usually spot an aeroplane that has such a weight fitted because the stick will flop forward when the aircraft is parked.

Bob weights are not fitted to elevators themselves. Weights attached to elevators are mass balance weights used to reduce the chance of flutter of the control surface which might otherwise happen, especially at high IAS. Some aeroplanes wear their mass balances internally (in the leading edge of an aerodynamic horn) others externally Ė like the Vampire for example.

But I am sure that is what you meant.



21st Jan 2004, 06:33
Thoroughly enjoyed the program and it made a pleasant change to hear the views of the airmen that kept the beasts flying.

Best quote for me...

"It looked like it were doin' 400 mile an 'our sat on the ground!"

Also what brought a lump to my throat was the idea of....

"strapping some young lad, younger than me in a cockpit and often he would never come back"

Well done C4 much better than the Dambusters effort.

Rallye Driver
21st Jan 2004, 17:54

Thanks for clarifying that. It was what I meant, but not having the book to hand I had to write from memory (and memory always plays tricks!).

RD :ok:

PPRuNe Pop
28th Jan 2004, 17:24
Not one comment about this week's episode! I wonder why?

Could it have been because it may have lost it's way? It was a great BoB history lesson, lots of good film, most of which we have seen before but very well put together. But precious little about Dave Mallon learning the skills it took to fly the Spitfire, a few seconds here and a few seconds there. The formation flying was, well, ordinary. Where were the aeros Pete Kynsey referred to, and had written on the briefing blackboard?

Have to say that this week was disappointing. The veterans told their story very well but none of it really got to grips with purpose of the prog.

Great shots of Dover, and the south east though.........

28th Jan 2004, 17:40
Surprisingly, the programme has developed into a worthwhile historical study, with some footage different from that usually shown in BoB progs, and many excellent contributions from veterans of the conflict. The shots of people flying around in the two seater are pretty enough, but seem increasingly irrelevant, particularly as there is virtually no examination of the process of flying the machine. This week's episode made the case for the vital roles played by (and subsequent shabby treatment of) Dowding and Park, and I found the softly spoken tribute to Dowding by the late Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris DSO distinctly moving.

28th Jan 2004, 20:04
I have to say that although the show has virtually eliminated Dave Mallon's learning process (which was supposedly the whole point of the show), I think the historical side has made this a very worthwhile series.
I'm so glad to see a historical look at the Battle which actually goes to the trouble of highlighting the vital role played by Dowding and Park.
As for the modern day stuff, some brief, but nice, air-to-air shots - more please! Pity we don't have more than one episode left. It would have been nice to achieve both the historical and modern trainee angle, but I guess I shouldn't be too greedy.
Well done to those involved in putting the show together.

28th Jan 2004, 23:38
I am in total agreement with the last two posts - ok, it has 'lost its way' as Pop puts it, but what a way it has found! I thought last night's programme was excellent in its B of B coverage, and Stephen Bungay impressed me no end with his research. I will make a point of getting a copy of his 2001 book on the history of the Battle of Britain I think.

I do hope we see a bit more of 'Dave' in the Spit, of course.

29th Jan 2004, 00:09
I would also recommend the work done by Richard Overy, a thoughtful historian of a variety of WW2 subjects. See his own short book "The Battle" and the symposium product which he edited :"The Burning Blue". The latter contains contributions from Bob Doe and Hans Ekkehard-Bob, as featured in the programme, and some interesting reflections on the Battle in popular culture, history and legend, including a piece on the BoB feature film as a semi-documentary and part of the historiography

Shaggy Sheep Driver
29th Jan 2004, 05:31
Agree with previous posts that the BoB coverage, especially the contributions from the veterans, is facinating. But it's not delivering on what was promised.

Since Dave will not take off or land, will we see him being coached in aeros by Pete Kynsey? Carolyn's gentle coaching is interesting, but the occasional roar of wind through the canopy gaps indicates Dave, straight from the C152, hasn't yet found his rudder feet. Still, don't suppose they worried about that too much in 1940...

More of the Grace Spit and Dave, please:O


29th Jan 2004, 22:27
Read with intrest all the previous posts, and I to feel great programme but its lost its way. Of the 3rd episode did anyone time how much of the programme was spent showing the training aspect. A few comments about RPM, boost, temperatures, "keep the nose up" and " small burst of power" being about it. Some nice aerial shots whilst transiting to the south coast and a wizz over the cliffs (reapeated in case you've missed it the 1st time - in fact there were several repeat shots of various items). Felt the " flying in formation" part was just glossed over, not even a post sortie interview with Dave. What were the problems, what manovoures did you do, did your arms and eyes ache, etc etc. Apart from the intro we never saw Pete Kinsey again!
Its hard work flying close in normally but imagine the thrill of flying a Spitfire in formation with another one!

I read somewhere that Carolyn did some 14hrs of sorties for this series of programmes, wonder what the film companies budget was for all this? I doubt if we've seen more than an actual 30 mins of Grace Spitfire airborne time with even less of that 30mins on the "training".
(No doubt some keen Pruner will give me an exact count to the second in a few minutes to prove me wrong!)

Perhaps "The Spitfire Pilot in the Battle of Britain - Then and Now" might of been a better title.

30th Jan 2004, 01:51
Stephen Bungay impressed me no end with his research. I will make a point of getting a copy of his 2001 book on the history of the Battle of Britain I think

I was initially pointed towards his book (The Most Dangerous Enemy) because somebody thought it was yet another 'rubbish the RAF' volume saying the Battle was nowhere near as tricky or close-run as legend had it.

The book turned out to be nothing of the sort though it does put paid to some myths. It is without a doubt the finest single volume I've ever read on the Battle with amazingly broad research. Very occasionally it gets a bit dry but is generally far from it, with lots of variety to keep even a casual reader interested.

Highly recommended!

30th Jan 2004, 18:40
A good effort so far by C4 but hopefully the last episode will be mostly about Dave flying the Spit as the story of the Battle has been pretty well covered I think.

PS Rallye Driver I think it was the Hurricane that had a nested tube mainspar which is why, until recently, after the original dies were "discovered", there were so few of them flying. The Spit had a fabricated spar which is much easier to rebuild hence their relatively high numbers.

Tim Inder
30th Jan 2004, 19:32
Both the Spits I've worked on had nested square-section main spars, built up from the smallest section, heat expanding the next size up, then sliding on to the first.
As the outer cools, it grips the inner very effectively!
ISTR that there is a solid centre near the root, and that the bottom edges of the spar are progressively cut away towards the tip.

I *think* that the Hurri's spars are built up bit I can't swear to it off the top of my head!

30th Jan 2004, 21:47
Tim Inder I sit corrected!!

I think the problem with the Hurri was that the nested spar sections were hexagonal or octagonal and the drawing dies cost a fortune to make. Now that I think more about it I think the old dies were found but were only suitable as a pattern to make new ones. I can't remember who was the brave chappie who bit the bullet and forked out tomake the new ones.

Say again s l o w l y
30th Jan 2004, 21:55
I think it was Guy Black who ended up making the new dies. Not cheap!!

31st Jan 2004, 03:56
Thanks for the rec., Damien - it is already on its way for my burfday!

31st Jan 2004, 06:03
I think Guy Black found the necessary tools for rebuilding Hawker fuselages in a South African scrapyard, along with the odd bit of Demon - isn't the tooling something to do with tubular fuselage frames which are squared off at the ends? His particular interest is the maginificent range of Hawker biplanes he is slowly bringing back to life. For Hurricanes read Tony Ditheridge at Milden, just across Kent and the Thames (by Hawker) from Guy. I won't talk about structures or techniques any further 'cos I know bu@@er all about it! The absence of Hurricanes in the rebuild market was perhaps more to do with the pre-Russian thaw absence of suitable airframes and the usual preference for Spitfires!

Both Guy and Tony and their teams are magicians!

3rd Feb 2004, 05:47
Just watched the last episode. Despite what some say I enjoyed it and I feel it was a lot better than the average of this kind of production. In fact of it's genre it was excellent.
There was a bit more of Dave flying tonight. But the main thrust was again the history. I wonder if that was the original intention. I thought the point was to feature a young guy converting to a Spitfire. But realistically the intricacies of handling and flying a Spitfire may be utterly fascinating to pilots like me. But this is TV and a broad brush must be used and in fact the history was just as fascinating.

The small piece on Richard Hillary and the guinea pigs was sobering. As it happens I have just read 'The Last Enemy' again. It is absolutely to be recommended. There is added poignancy as you read, when you realise that not only did all his friends die but that he too was doomed not to survive the war. The item on his friend Peter Pease was fascinating. Given Hillary's description and obvious admiration of him. It was no surprise. I was pleased see 'Stapme' Stapleton a colleague of his from 603 Squadron alive and well.

I have to say though the highlight of the programme was seeing Pete Brothers fly a Spit again. Brought a lump to my throat that.

I would watch it again because I'm a sucker for the elliptical wing and that sonorous merlin tone.

Well done Dave Mallon and I hope he keeps flying judging from the praise he got.

3rd Feb 2004, 06:13
Blast! Late night at the office (aided and abetted by the connivance of South Central) made me miss it...

3rd Feb 2004, 06:20
Excellent programme.

I was in floods when Pete Brothers went up in ML407, it was as if he had never been away. A very special moment.

In the words of Bob Doe(?) "all we want is to be remembered". That you will be sir, that you will be.

As Carolyn Grace said "you have my aeroplane and its an honour"

If anyone is interested details of the Grace Spitfire supporters club can be found Here (http://www.ml407.co.uk/)

3rd Feb 2004, 15:04
"I was in floods when Pete Brothers went up in ML407"

Me too MOTF, a very special moment.

I think 'the broad brush' was, for us flyers and aviation nuts, unfortunate. But for the general public I hope it made good viewing. Strange how the emphasis swung from the students to the history!!

However, there are more flyer orientated video's available on the Spitfire -The Pilot's Eye, for instance.

Superb series and I'm sure it will be out on video soon!! The Dambusters programme was -have a copy if anybody wants to borrow, or contribution to the PPruNe fund??


3rd Feb 2004, 17:12
Don't worry Treadders I have the whole series nailed.

Quite the best of the four I think. It really was most interesting. The stories were very good and bought back many memories of my young days living 3 miles from Croydon at the time of the battle. An 8 year old, soon to be 9, watching the dogfights is a memory etched in my mind.

I met some of the pilots who were at Croydon at the time, and it is magical to be in their presence. They are true heroes of our time. Many other heroes came after them, but MANY of them wouldn't be heroes had the BoB not been won!

Pete Brothers must have had memories rushing back too. What a moment - and yes I shed some too.

Well, Dave Mallon learned what it was like and I hope he continues to enjoy his aeros. He can quite rightly claim that he was certainly taught by a master.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd Feb 2004, 17:51
For anyone interested in Spitfires, and OU-V in particular I can recommend the video 'Perfect Lady / Going Solo'. The first part shows Nick Grace's rebuild of OU-V from a few tea chests of corroded parts into a magnificent Spitfire. The second part is poignant indeed and picks up the story after Nick's death in a car crash.

Carlolyn bravely decides to learn to fly the Grace Spitfire under the tutelage of Pete Kynsey. Very moving. Highly recommended.


3rd Feb 2004, 18:28
Excellent and moving series, far above the average WW2 documentaries on broadcast television. Should be shown to ALL schoolchildren as part of their history lessons.

My only criticism is that the modern footage, although the filming was excellent, lacked any real story. It would have benn nice to see at least some attempt at a combat scenario for the young pilot, although I'm sure insurance would have been a problem.

I was lucky enough to have filmed an air to air dogfight sequence between MH434 and 109 "Black 10" for a Discovery Channel series, it certainly gave me a tiny glimpse into what the real thing must have been like.

John (Gary) Cooper
3rd Feb 2004, 18:55
What a magnificent ending to one of the great programmes on TV, it certainly brought a lump to my throat when the Guinea Pig Club members were shown as I met one such member whilst I was in PMRAF Halton hospital.

The eyes were welling up by this time but as MOTF said when Pete Brothers sat in the rear seat :{ well that was it, even my wife joined in.

To Channel 4 and the team who produced the programme a great big thank you.

4th Feb 2004, 04:43
Pete Brothers' hop in the Spitfire is typical of how ML407 has been put to the best possible use. Nick Grace took many such folk up in this wonderful Spitfire, memorably the first fighter pilot to fly her in anger; Johnnie Houlton. Carolyn also deserves the greatest praise and admiration not only for taking on the task and responsibility of keeping her in the best possible condition (and doing it very well), but operating her in the best possible way (IMO) by making her so accessible to so many, most especially by giving people like Johnnie Houlton, Jackie Moggridge, Pete Brothers and many others, just one more chance to fly the Spitfire.

It is this last aspect which drives me to support ML407 with so much enthusiasm. I have to say that the small amount I have been able to 'contribute' has brought the most satisfaction/£ I can remember, not just in the wonderful stuff I have bought, but the chance to meet people with a similar passion for Spitfires, especially this one. The videos are indeed worth every penny and the other merchandise is very good quality and value.

There was a Guinnea Pig called Ralph who became a personal hero of mine from the stories he told me about the war. He inspired most of the passion I have for flight, much of the respect and admiration I have for combat pilots and what they and other soldiers did for us, and gave me my first lesson in how to look beyond a person's appearance and appreciate the real person behind. Three very special gifts from a very special man.

This last episode did seem to put the whole series in perspective. Shots of Dave and ML407 were tantalisingly rare and left me pining for more, but the rest of the story was anything but fill. For most people free of a chronic love for flight, it was a compelling insight into the BoB. For me, it was especially rewarding.

7th Feb 2004, 03:05
I've only just been able to watch my recording of the last episode - marvellous stuff, and tremendously moving.

I hope the series gets a well-earned and much deserved repeat showing later in the year around BoB Day, and that it encourages more people to pay their respects to all those servicemen and women who so richly deserve our thanks and rememberance.

Captain Airclues
7th Feb 2004, 04:34
I posted on the 'Where are they now' forum asking if anyone knew what happened to Geoffrey Wellum after the war. Phreegreens replied that he thought that he might have been one of the BofB pilots interviewed in the programme. Can someone please tell me whether this is true?
I'm sure that there cannot be any aviation loving person who has not read 'First Light' by Geoffrey Wellum, but if so, it is his account of his training to fly in the RAF, and joining an operational Spitfire squdron in 1940 at the age of eighteen.


7th Feb 2004, 05:11
He was on the Spit programme, Captain.

Just started reading First Light (thanx SD!!) -superb book. One for the pilots.


9th Feb 2004, 02:15
MOTF - agree all re Pete Brothers' trip.

Series didn't really need the youngster... high points for me the down-to-earth, matter-of-fact and thoroughly moving comments by those who were there and the superb and original analysis by the historian chappie: "Dowding was the man who designed and built the weapon; Churchill was the man who decided to use it; Park was man who picked it up and used it." Also his comments re the flamboyant approach of Goering etc and the 'teutonic' approach the the Brits most original.

Best moment - Pete Brothers airborne.

Just finished reading Wellum's 'First Light' (yes, he was on the programme) - excellent.

9th Feb 2004, 12:42
He was interviewed on the programCap'n.

PS Long time no see. I'll try to get the Auster down to WW when the weather gets better.

Captain Airclues
13th Feb 2004, 00:53

Would love to see the Auster at WW. Hope it starts better than the Cub. Will buy you lunch (or a cuppa depending on the time of day).

I don't suppose you recorded Spitfire Ace did you?


13th Feb 2004, 01:09
Word over on the FlyPast forum is that Spitfire Ace is due out on DVD later this year, possibly with some extra bits added. :ok:

Say again s l o w l y
13th Feb 2004, 04:52
A wonderful program/series, unfortunately it seems that initially Carolyn got into a bit of bother with the Belgrano over the program, renumeration and not having an FI ticket I believe. Luckily it seems that sense prevailed and it was all sorted out eventually.

Hopefully we may see some more programs like this. If they can make 3 series of I'm a celebrity, then the least they can do is offer some more things like this for all those with more than 2 brain cells.

13th Feb 2004, 21:14
Cap'n A I look forward to it. Fortunately it does start better than the Cub. It's better at avoiding rain clouds as well ;)

Sorry I didn't tape it. I also missed the last episode so I'm looking forward to the DVD coming out.