As the Royal Air Force turns 100, here are a few profiles of aircraft flown by some of the most famous British aces.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I flown by S/L Douglas Bader, No 242 Squadron, September 1940.
Douglas Bader was one of the Royal Air Force’s best-known aces in World War II. Having lost both his legs in a flying accident prior to the war, he managed to return to flying status and was credited with 20 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged before he was shot down and captured in August 1941.
Hurricane Mk I V7406 flown by F/O Manfred Czernin DSO MC, DFC, No 17 Squadron, 25 August 1940.
The son of an Austrian count and diplomat and a British baron’s daughter, Count Manfred Beckett Czernin joined the Royal Air Force in 1935. After participating in the Battle of France, he became an ace during the Battle of Britain. Flying a Hurricane on 25 August 1940, he engaged a group of Messerschmitt Bf 110 head on and shot down three of them in less than a minute.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3576 flown by F/L James Nicolson VC, No 249 Squadron, 16 August 1940.
Although not technically an ace, F/L James Nicolson was the only Fighter Command pilot to receive the Victoria Cross during World War II and deserves his place among Hurricane aces. On 16 August 1940, his aircraft was hit by enemy cannon fire and began to burn. As Nicolson was about to bail out, he realized his opponent had overshot him. He climbed back in the burning cockpit and shot him down, receiving grievous burn injuries in the process. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I V6799 flown by P/O Ken Mackenzie DFC, No 501 Squadron, 7 October 1940.
On 7 October 1940, Battle of Britain Hurricane ace Ken Mackenzie damaged a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and ran out of ammunition. Fearing the enemy pilot would make it back to base, Mackenzie rammed him with his starboard wing, sending it down into the sea. Mackenzie was credited with 11.5 aerial victories before he was shot down and captured in September 1941.