View Full Version : Defiant

24th Mar 2002, 08:04
Can anyone direct me to a photograph or drawing of a WWII British Defiant? From. .time to time I have heard people say that the Defiant's design, with no guns facing. .forward, was champiuoned by Winton Churchill. Is there any substance to this?. .Thanks in advance. I very much enjoy reading this forum.

24th Mar 2002, 08:13
Here's something from IPMS.. .<a href="http://www.hotel.wineasy.se/ipms/stuff_eng_detail_defiant.htm" target="_blank">http://www.hotel.wineasy.se/ipms/stuff_eng_detail_defiant.htm</a>

24th Mar 2002, 08:36
Thank you, Pigboat. That's an excellent reference. And I am deligted to learn that at. .least one Defiant survives in the RAF Museum at Hendon.

24th Mar 2002, 17:48
Would very much doubt if Winston had anything to do with it as at the time of its proposal he was a back-bench MP with no power at the time, although he was militant. The Defiant, Blackburn Roc and Hawker Hotspur were big mistakes, the idea coming from the Hawker Demon, which was a converted light bomber. The weight (30% higher than a Hurricane) gave it a top speed 10% lower with half the armament (and a gunner with almost no chance of escape). Although it did have some success over Dunkirk, this was mainly due to German pilots being unfamiliar with it and attacking from behind, however the Germans soon learnt the lesson and attacked from below. With more powerful engines (Merlin XX) the Defiant II was better as a night fighter, the earlier model having difficulties overtaking enemy bombers, and even later models with AI radar still suffering from the lack of armament. Like most fighters it ended its days in support roles, primarily target-towing but also some ASR and electronic Countermeasures, but the Defiant was withdrawn from service in April 1945 (last night fighter use in July 1942 and day fighters withdrawn in August 1940). Total production was 1061 (Roc production was 136 for the FAA with only the prototype Hotspur being built)

24th Mar 2002, 17:59
Goodfellow. .. .According to The Most Dangerous Enemy, by Stephen Bungay (cracking book once you get past the opening chapter), Churchill did indeed favour the Defiant, believing the four gun turret was the best way to shoot down bombers.. .. .Not involved at the design stage, of course, but deeply involved in resource allocation as head of the War Cabinet during the BoB.

24th Mar 2002, 18:47
Churchill probably kept production going, given the Dunkirk success, but at the time of the BoB little thought was given to night fighters, usully using standard fighters at night with very limited success, the Battle being superior to single seat fighters primarily due to the presence of the gunner giving a second set of eyes (and of course their availability, being withdrawn as a day fighter). When AI radar became available, although fitted to the Defiant NF versions, it was better used in the Blenheim and Beaufighter, as in the Defiant the radar was used by the pilot, rather than a dedicated operator.

24th Mar 2002, 19:53
Pigboat, Mycroft, and Ivchenko. .. .My thanks to each of you for your references and thoughts. Very helpful, indeed.. .. .My specific inquiry about the Defiant was prompted by an episode in "Piece of Cake". .by Derek Robinson. Speaking of which, "Piece of Cake" strikes a dilettante like me. .as an excellent fictionalized history. But I am not even a pilot, just a fellow with an interest in aviation and WWII history. I'd be very interested in any comments you might have about the book.. .. .I am also interested in a larger issue which the Defiant illustrates: when everyone knows technological change is taking place and no one knows quite what its effects will be.. .. .Between WWI and WWII aircraft capacilities increased dramatically. Radio allowed pilots to cooperate in their efforts and to be coordinated from the ground. Therefore, many people reasoned that the one-on-one dogfight was a thing of the past. This gave rise to tight formation attacks, fighters with gun turrets, and other ideas that didn't pan out.. .. .Well, at least the RAF was trying to look into the future. The standard critique is that . .generals always prepare to fight the last war. The trick, it seems, is to figure out that lessons still apply and what really has changed. Anyone who can amplify or improve on this theme will have my full attention and gratitude.

27th Mar 2002, 13:12
Developments in heavy bombers towards the end of WW1, and the extensive use of bombing in colonial warfare during the 1920s, led to a focus on bombers amongst air force planners. For a time it was thought that there could be no effective defence against a bomber force, "the bomber will always get through", and on this basis the side which could bomb hardest and longest would inevitably win.. .. .Dowding's establishment of a brilliant system of detection and fighter control went a long way to counter this view, but at the immediate tactical level it took the RAF a while to get to grips with the best way to use multi-gun interceptors. Hence the rigid formation flying, long range gun settings, and standard attack patterns, which some, but not all, RAF fighter leaders abandoned during 1940.. .. .The Luftwaffe had learned quite a lot about monoplane era air fighting in Spain, (wingmen, finger fours etc) but they too were on a steep learning curve during 1940: no one had worked out the most effective system for escorting large bomber formations. The USAAF figured out the system later in the war. The Luftwaffe had their technological wrong turnings too: the idea of a fast, heavy fighter with a rear gunner sounded good, but the Me 110 turned out to be a liability in day fighting, although, like some of its allied counterparts, it turned out to have some use as a nightfighter.. .. .The middle decades of the last century must stand out as one of the most intense of all periods of human inventiveness (and awfulness). War is often thought of as a driver for technological change, but isn't always (consider the period 1700-1815: changes in tactics, but relatively little change in military technology). In this as in so many respects there seems to be something remarkable about the generation of World war 2.. . . . <small>[ 27 March 2002, 09:14: Message edited by: FNG ]</small>