Tag Archives: Battle of Britain

Heroic Spitfire Legend Dead at 96: Geoffrey Wellum Has Passed Away.

Geoffrey Wellum: Author, Pilot, Example of Gallantry and Courage in The Battle of Britain.

WWII Royal Air Force Squadron Leader, Spitfire pilot and noted author Geoffrey Harris Augustus Wellum, has died. He was 96 years and 11 months old.

Geoffrey Wellum was a revered treasure of British history and a living example of the heroic ideal of the nation. He flew the Supermarine Spitfire during the pivotal Battle of Britain in 1940, when England was at risk of invasion by Germany across the English Channel and under a brutal succession of air attacks from the Luftwaffe.

Wellum’s illustrious career was one of many such stories of remarkable heroism and courage among young British men and women, many well under 20, who were charged with the aerial defense of England in the early years of WWII. As one of few recent remaining survivors of that illustrious era, Wellum has risen to considerable and well deserved adoration, epitomizing the remarkable patriotism and gallantry of all of WWII Great Britain. His flying career during the Battle of Britain received new found notoriety as the RAF recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

=”https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Vellum_20.jpg”> Geoffrey Wellum, DFC, enjoys a joke with Prince Charles. (Photo: via Facebook)[/capti

Wellum joined the Royal Air Force in 1939 at the age of barely 18. He quickly progressed through flight training, beginning with the rudimentary WWI vintage Tiger Moth biplane basic trainer, to the mono-wing Harvard and then to the state-of-the-art air superiority combat fighter of the era, the iconic Supermarine Spitfire.

Geoffrey Wellum was one of the illustrious pilots of 92 Squadron flying from RAF Croydon and later, during the Battle of Britain, RAF Biggin Hill. Number 92 Squadron was the first British air combat squadron to see action in the Battle of Britain beginning on September 15, 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on August 5, 1941, for gallantry flying against the enemy in combat.

Wellum’s experience in combat over England was horrific and harrowing. In the deadly, ambush style of aerial combat that the RAF employed against the Luftwaffe, Geoffrey Wellum was a deadly adversary for the marauding Germans. He scored one German He-111 bomber shot down and one Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter. He damaged and shared kills or damage on at least three other enemy aircraft.

In 1942, following his harrowing baptism of fire in the Battle of Britain, Geoffrey Wellum went on to become Flight Commander of No. 65 Squadron at RAF Debden in North Essex. In late summer, 1942, Wellum led a contingent of Spitfires launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Furious to serve as reinforcements for an aerial contingent on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. He went on to become a member of the No. 145 Squadron, charged with aerial defense of the island nation.

As a result of his terrifying experiences flying combat at a very young age and in the earliest stages of the war, Geoffrey Wellum contracted post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD while still serving in the RAF. The affliction was referred to as “battle fatigue” in WWII. Wellum remained steadfast in his commitment to King and country despite his wounds. He went on to become a test pilot on the highly successful Hawker Typhoon ground attack aircraft, analogous to the U.S. P-47 Thunderbolt strike aircraft of the same era.

In his later life, Geoffrey Wellum was reflective about his role in the war and his accomplishments over the arc of his lifetime. As an introspective examination and accounting of his life he privately wrote a journal that chronicled his role in WWII, the Battle of Britain and his life. Author James Holland read Wellum’s private diary of his experiences and urged him to publish the lyrical recollections as a book. In 2002, his diary was adapted as a book published as, “First Light: The Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies Above Britain”. Three publishers, Viking Books, Willey & Sons and Penguin Books have published the popular accounting of his flying career and uniquely human experiences. “First Light” is a critically acclaimed success, widely revered by modern combat pilots serving today and aviation enthusiasts. It currently has a solid five-star rating on Amazon.com with 140 verified customer reviews.

Geoffrey Wellum is also featured in a new 2018 documentary “Spitfire” about the Supermarine Spitfire from Altitude Film that was directed by David Fairhead and produced by Ant Palmer. The documentary features the lilting recollections of Wellum as he recounts the grandeur of flying the Supermarine Spitfire.



Top image: RAF Spitfire pilot Geoffrey Wellum, DFC, during WWII, and later in life. (Photo: BBC)

Check out this awesome tribute to the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain with RAF’s No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron

An interesting composite photo pays homage to the Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain.

Konrad “kifcio” Kifert, member of the Air-Action Association of the Aviation Photographers from Poland paid a great tribute to the Polish WW2 veterans who fought in the Battle of Britain. The shot above, taken at the 23rd Tactical Air Base in Minsk Mazowiecki, symbolizes the heritage which is carried by the 1st Tactical Aviation Squadron, stationed at that base.

Kifert, known for his work related to the MiG-29 Fulcrum, decided to create a photo showing the pilots of the current squadron based at Minsk Mazowiecki, and establish a connection between them and the RAF Squadron 303, by photoshopping the actual photo of the famous squadron between the group of the pilots which is flying in the unit now, and the MiG-29 fighter visible in the background.

The result is awesome and the idea to pay such tribute to the Polish heroes who contributed greatly to the Battle of Britain, is very original and unique.

The unit is the descendant of the traditions of the famous Kosciuszko Squadron. Its name came from a Polish Lithuanian hero, Tadeusz Kościuszko, and it has been ascribed to a number of Polish Air Force units. The interesting fact is that the insignia used by each of the Squadrons, was a tribute paid by Eliott Chess, an American pilot who flew for the Polish Army during the Polish Soviet War. Kosciuszko greatly contributed to the American Revolutionary War, acting as a colonel in the Continental Army. He was also a military architect who took care of the fortifications at the West Point in the US. has been borne by several units of the Polish Air Force throughout its history.

During the World War II, the Kosciuszko Squadron was established within the RAF, and contributed to the win in the Battle of Britain. During the World War II the Squadron flew the Hurricane fighters.

Churchill, after the Battle of Britain, referred to the RAF effort using the following, famous words: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The idea of creating the above photo dates back to the end of May 2016, according to Kifert. Nonetheless, it took some time to bring the idea to life, as not always were the pilots present at the base, or some more important issues were being resolved at the moment, as the base was preparing itself to host an open day show.

The photo was eventually taken on Sep. 9, and in this way the project has been born.

The main idea on which the photograph was founded was to create a connection between the Minsk based “Reapers” [Kosynierzy in Polish] and their historical heritage, dating back to the Battle of Britain. The process was long and painful, and took almost a month, however, the results are stunning – the successors of the RAF Squadron 303 have met their ancestry, even though that meeting is virtual.

In the photo, you may see the following pilots of the RAF Squadron (from the left): P/O Ferić, F/Lt Kent, F/O Grzeszczak, P/O Radomski, P/O Zumbach, P/O Łukuciewski, F/O Henneberg, Sgt. Rogowski, Sgt. Szaposznikow. In the front, you may see all of the Fulcrum Drivers, currently stationed at the Minsk Mazowiecki base and flying the MiG-29.

Image Credit: Konrad “kifcio” Kifert (kifcio.pl / spfl.pl)

 

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Cool pictures show U.S. F-15Es flying in formation with Spitfires during Battle of Britain celebrations

The last airshow of the season at Duxford celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Among the highlights of the Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show that took place on Sep. 19-20,  there was a flypast made by two U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles of the 492nd Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, and two Spitfire Mk Is.

F-15E Spit 2

In fact, even if the airfield in Cambridgeshire is a very popular venue for warbirds enthusiasts, contemporary aircraft usually join classic aeroplanes, not only to commemorate historic events but also to boost the already spectacular flying display of the air show.

F-15E Spit 4

These cool photos, taken from the cockpit of one of the two F-15Es, give you a glimpse of what it is like to fly in formation with the iconic Spitfire.

F-15E Spit 5

Image credit: RAF Lakenheath/U.S. Air Force

New stunning Mig-29 Fulcrums paintjobs are several years old

Just a couple of days ago, Polish mainstream TV station, TVN, noticed that Polish Fulcrums have special paint schemes.

Unfortunately, they are one year late…or in fact four years late.

Mig-29 Polish Air Force

Photo credit: lotniczapolska.pl

It’s been four years ago that ‘Red 15’ MiG-29UB was given a characteristic emblem of 303rd Squadron that Polish aviators flew in the Battle of Britain.

The Kościuszko Squadron not only did participate in Battle of Britain but also, as the 7th Squadron, in the Polish – Bolshevik war.

It’s been some time since the aforementioned MiG-29UB has had an emblem on its back and has amazed the audiences on several airshows.

The sign was designed by Eliott Chess, who was an American volunteer in the Squadron. The emblem got its low-vis, and more contemporary version by Robert Gretzyngier and it appears on more than one Fulcrum.

Mr. Gretzyngier is a co-founder of the Historical Foundation of Polish Aviation, which aims to popularize Polish aviation history. The Air Force commander general Lech Majewski approved the unusual way the MiG-29s were to be treated.

What is more, in May last year the Migs got portraits of Polish WWII aviators and aces painted on their V-fins. It is a truly unique idea, which aims at raising the awareness of the foreign air show visitors.

The MiG-29 is a frequent guest e.g. on the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Photo Credit: Scaramanga/Lotnicza Warszawa

The whole concept is unusual, since every Fulcrum has a different pilot painted on the V-fin.

It was back in June 2012 when the MiGs in special painting scheme made their first public appearance on a small air show in Janow. The portraits were hand painted by volunteers, including: Piotr Abraszek, Paweł Bondaryk, Grzegorz Dwórnik, Robert Gretzyngier, Marcin Hutny with his son, Paweł, Adam Kostyra, Wojtek Matusiak, Tomasz Obrębski and Marek Rogusz.

The project does not only feature the paintings, as each of the MiGs that would deploy to an air-show would get a set of leaflets that would clarify the background of the pilot featured on the v-fin.

This is certainly an unusual and nice way to introduce the foreigners to the history of the Polish military aviation.

The v-fins on MiG’s feature:

  • Lt. Col. Marian Pisarek, whose return to the skies on MiG-29 was made on his 100th Birthday. And 70th anniversary of death. Polish fighter ace.
  • Lt. Mirosław Feric, Polish fighter ace.
  • Lt. Col Zdzisław Krasnodębski – first commander of the 303rd Sqdn.

Photo Credit: Scaramanga/Lotnicza Warszawa

The Polish media are far from being up to date, as the MiGs have already made their appearance on many air shows and the portraits of WWII aviators are not really a big news.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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