View Full Version : Spitfire escort for B17s?

1st Apr 2015, 11:06
Recently I enjoyed a documentary of the Spitfire. There was a quick statement by the narrator that the mark 9 escorted B17 missions over Europe.

Wasn't the Spitfire of all marks limited by range and could only escort to and from the European mainland from English bases? Up till now I thought it was only the P-51 that could provide fighter cover over Europe.

1st Apr 2015, 11:11
Only the P-51,P-38, P-47 inter alia.

Spitfires would also escort Blenheims on Rhubarb missions. Mustangs would sometimes go lone wolf on the way back and attack targets of opportunity. Lancasters indulged in strafing towards the end as well.

Google is your friend ;-)

1st Apr 2015, 13:08
US operated spitfires did cover some B17 escort duties up to March 43, when they were taken off 'offensive' operations, and conversion started to the P47.
There are other records of them escorting RAF Boston raids, again prior to 03/43. They didn't have the legs to do the full long range escort, but certainly did into occupied territories.

PS. Google often isn't your friend at all, and wicki is far, far, worse.;)

1st Apr 2015, 23:04
Many thanks for the replies sirs.

2nd Apr 2015, 08:09
At 1500 hours on Monday 14th August 1944, Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Plagis, the Commanding Officer of No 126 (Persian Gulf) Squadron, roared into the air in his Spitfire from Harrowbeer airfield near Plymouth for a ‘Rodeo’ mission over France. He was leading 11 Spitfire Mk IXs, each of which was carrying a ‘drop tank’ containing extra petrol, endowing them with about 3 hours flight time.
RAF BBMF - Spitfire ML214 and Johnny Plagis (http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/theaircraft/spitfireml214.cfm)

Was the Mk IX capable of carrying a 'slipper tank'? The PR Mk IX seems to have been so capable.

Wikipedia (normal wiki-caveats apply) says:

The capacity of the main fuel tanks was 48 gal for the upper tank and 37 gal for the lower, for a total internal capacity of 85 gal. Jettisonable "slipper tanks" of 30, 45 or 90 gal could be carried under the centre-section.[38] As an alternative a cylindrical 50 gal drop tank, adapted from those carried by long range Hawker Typhoons, could be carried on the fuselage bomb rack used on most Mk IXs of the Second Tactical Air Force. To further increase the combat radius some late production Mk IXs were fitted with additional internal self-sealing fuel tanks in the rear fuselage: the upper tank carried 41 gal and the lower 34 gal. When both were full this enabled a ferry range of over 1,200 miles (1,900 km), although they made the aircraft unstable in flight and only straight flight and gentle manoeuvres at low altitudes were recommended by the pilot's manual. The pilot was also warned to avoid instrument flying whenever possible.[39][40]


Mr Mac
2nd Apr 2015, 21:06
I know this was all sometime ago, but my father was shot down over Germany, and fortunately survived, and was in POW camp from 1943 onwards. He claims some of the most dangerous times were after being shot down, when being in rail transport, or being in column on the march. They were being shot up by Mustang and Typhoon fighters when being marched into Germany upon the Russian advance. They all got to the state that their biggest fear was not their guards, but the allied air forces ! He obviously survived but 6 of his "Kriegies" friend,s who went into the "bag" in France 1940 were killed by low level allied strafing in 1945. "Train/column busting has an unfortunate and unforeseen price sometimes" - which his, and I believe a some what charitable view from what went on. Dads comment are those of an RAF Flying officer , mine are those of an ex "Rupert" and both are unfortunately from our own wars.
Mr Mac

aw ditor
3rd Apr 2015, 13:33
Pierre Clostermann his book The Big Show (page 94 onwards 2004 Edition) reports on a B17 escort in presumably a Mark 9' with a 90 Gallon belly tank. Date 14/10/43, operating out of Norfolk airfields'.


India Four Two
5th Apr 2015, 21:05
Was the Mk IX capable of carrying a 'slipper tank'? The PR Mk IX seems to have been so capable.From the Pilot's Notes for Spitfire IX, XI and XVI, AP 1565J:

An auxiliary "blister" drop tank of 30, 45 or 90 gallons capacity (on the PR XI, of 170 gallons capacity) can be fitted under the fuselage; the fuel from these tanks feeds the engine direct and does not replenish the main tanks.