Dogfight: The Supermarine Spitfire and The Messerschmitt BF 109

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Pen and Sword, Jun 20, 2015 - History - 360 pages
Innumerable books have been published on the two most famous fighter aircraft of all time, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Messerschmitt Bf109. But books setting out to tell the story of both aircraft are very much rarer - probably fewer than the fingers of one hand. Yet their joint story is one which bears retelling since both were essential to the air campaigns of World War Two. Incredibly, the men who designed them lacked any experience of designing a modern fighter. R J Mitchell had begun his career working on industrial steam locomotives, Willy Messerschmitt had cut his aeronautical teeth on light and fragile gliders and sporting planes. Yet both men not only managed to devise aircraft which could hold their own in a world where other designs went from state-of-the-art to obsolete in a staggeringly short time, but their fighters remained competitive over six years of front-line combat. Despite the different ways their creators approached their daunting tasks and the obstacles each faced in acceptance by the services for which they were designed, they proved to be so closely matched that neither side gained a decisive advantage in a titanic struggle. Had either of them not matched up to its opponent so well, then the air war would have been a one-sided catastrophe ending in a quick defeat for the Allies or the Axis powers, and the course of twentieth century history would have been changed beyond recognition.
 

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Contents

Chapter 1 Bombers over Breakfast
1
Chapter 2 Whistling Toilets and Flying Radiators
13
Chapter 3 Messerschmitts Deadly Designs
25
the Supermarine 224 and the Bf108
37
Chapter 5 Power Struggle
49
Chapter 6 The Final Steps
63
Chapter 7 First Flights
78
Chapter 8 Record Breakers
94
Chapter 15 The Rest of the Field
175
Chapter 16 The Battle of Britain The Opening Moves
191
Chapter 17 The Battle of Britain The Pace Quickens
206
Chapter 18 The Battle of Britain The Turning Point
222
Chapter 19 The Battle of Britain Deliverance
236
Chapter 20 Battle of Britain Decline and Fall
251
Chapter 21 The Friedrich and the Spitfire V
266
Chapter 22 The New Generation The FW190 and the P51
286

Chapter 9 Weapons
103
Chapter 10 Spitfire on the Brink
115
109 Production
129
Chapter 12 First Blood for the 109 Spain and the Legion Kondor
140
Chapter 13 The Contenders Meet at Last
152
Training the Pilots
164
Chapter 23 The Fight Continues
301
Chapter 24 The Kurfürst and the Griffon Spitfires
317
Chapter 25 After the War was Over
336
Bibliography and Sources
352
Index
358
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

David Owen is on the staffs of both The New Yorker and Golf Digest. A frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, and the author of nine previous books, he lives in Washington, Connecticut.

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