German Do 17 bomber and British Spitfire fighter in the sky over Britain, Dec 1940

Caption   German Do 17 bomber and British Spitfire fighter in the sky over Britain, Dec 1940 ww2dbase
Source    ww2dbaseGerman Federal Archive
Identification Code   Bild 146-1969-094-18
More on...   
Spitfire   Main article  Photos  
Do 17   Main article  Photos  
Battle of Britain   Main article  Photos  Maps  
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 20 Jul 2010

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Licensing  Creative Commons. According to the German Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv), as of 21 Jul 2010, photographs can be reproduced with if these preconditions are met:
- quote the "Federal Archives" as source,
- add the signature of the pictures and
- of name of the originator, i.e. the photographer.
You also can use fotos from the Federal Archives for free on Wikimedia Commons

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Oct 2010 05:12:13 PM



Propaganda photograph? what British pilot
would put himself in such as bad position
attacking German bombers, this is a good way
to get yourself shotdown, but in the heat of
battle I'm sure it happened, and everybody was surprised and remember all this happens
within seconds!

So lets take a good look at that photo, just
the same.
The position of the two aircraft show the
Dornier flying stright and the Spit passing
below and in front of the bomber, giving the
gunners a clear shot at the cockpit and
engine, and he's way, way to close within
100 feet or so of the Dornier.
The gunner would use a technique called
deflection shooting, even at that range the 7.92mm slugs firing ahead of the Spit, would
be divesting, and this pilot would run into a lot of lead!, and the gunner couldn't miss.

Most fighter pilots would make a six o'clock
attack and maybe make a steep bank to the
left or right diving away exposing as little
of his aircraft as possible.

He's way to close after a firing pass, and
below the German plane.
Also check out the placement of the wing
roundels,RAF Spitfires had the roundel center
in line with the first aileron hinge
(more or less) and occupy the outer third of the wing panel.
The propaganda Spitfire has its roundels
occupying the inner third of the wing panel!
which is visually obvious.

Also there are no other known phots that show
underwing markings, so its difficult to know
what type of markings were on the undersides
maybe the Balkankreuze (Black Cross) were

Anyway this is my guess, and I'm sticking to
it. The Germans did capture a number of
Spitfires during the war, some aircraft were
re-engined with DB 601 engines, the same type
that powered the Messerschmitt Bf 109's and were used for tests and evaluation.


This is a technique for leading a moving
target. The gunner shooting just ahead, so his bullets and target meet at the same time.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
3 Oct 2010 11:07:45 AM

Continued from # 1


Most Luftwaffe bombers were armed with thee
or four MG 15/7.92mm machineguns. Many crews carried as many drum magazines as possible,
the MG 15 used a 75 round saddle drum magazine, the weapon had a rate of fire of
1,000 rounds per minute.

The problem for the gunner, was that the
weapon couldn't feed from a metallic belt
and only used the drum magazine. Because of
its high-rate of fire, the 75 rounds gave the
gunner only 4.7 seconds firing time, before he needed to change magazines! and in the heat of battle not an easy task.

The effectiveness of a rifle-caliber type
weapon/machinegun has always been marginal
against fighter planes, that were in view for
only a few seconds.
To increase the chances to hit such a target
a weapon needed a high-rate of fire.

During the Battle of Britain bomber crews
started to carry as many as eight MG/15's
plus a Oerlikon 20mm cannon, this weapon gave a formidable punch against British fighters.


The Spitfire was armed with eight .303/7.7mm
machineguns with 300 rounds per-gun, thats
2,400 rounds giving the pilot 20 seconds firing time.
The German gunner had his MG/15 machinegun
that had a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds
per-minute, but fed from a 75 round drum magazine, giving 4.7 seconds firing time,
before he needed to change the magazines!

Still the question is academic and purely
theoretical. Combat reports showed that an
average of 4,500 rounds was needed to shoot
down one enemy aircraft!

RAF tactics during the Battle of Britain the
Spitfire went after the Messerschmitt Bf 109
and the Hurricane went after the bombers.
But I'm sure both RAF fighters had their share of dogfights, and when they saw targets
of opportunity.

"History", said Alexis de Toqueville, is a
gallery of pictures in which there are a few
originals and many copies.

Alexis de Toqueville was a French Political
Thinker and Historian (1805-1859)


Comments and corrections are invited
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Nov 2010 08:12:44 AM


At the start of the Battle of Britain the
Luftwaffe had:

734 Messerschmitt Bf 109 Fighters

268 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Twin-Engine Fighters

336 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Dive Bombers

949 Medium Bombers, of Three Types The
Heinkel He 111,Junkers Ju 88 & Dornier Do 17
Strength of 2,287 aircraft.
The Luftwaffe lost a total of:
663 Messerschmitt Bf 109s, and 691 Bombers
of all types.

This does not count aircrew killed, wounded, missing and taken POW.
Also this does not count aircraft lost on the way back to France, or other Luftwaffe
bases, written-off, salvaged and repaired.

Kamerad Bombs on England
Kamerad Bomben auf Engeland,is my translation
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Nov 2010 12:37:08 PM


Battle of Britain Between July to August 1940

2,698 Aircrew Killed

967 Captured

638 Missing and bodies identified by the British

5. Ted says:
2 Jul 2012 02:01:13 PM

Love your site!
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
9 Apr 2013 10:07:48 AM


The Germans relayed to much on twin-engine medium bombers such as the Do-17, Do-217 and the Ju-88. The designers positioned the crew together in the same cockpit, instead of spreading crew positions along the airframe.


German bomber crews pilots and gunners shared the same cockpit area, the problem with this type of arrangement that I can see, a fighter making an attack could very well kill or wound the entire crew.
If any of the crew survive such an attack and have to abandoned the aircraft or aid their wounded comrades and bail out themselves they have to work in close quarters.


The Allies had a different design policy, bomber crew were positioned along the entire airframe, so if one gunner was killed, wounded or injured another position was still in operation like those on medium and heavy bombers.
Crews could abandoned the aircraft and were able to exit from the bomb bay and other exits and also cared for the wounded.
Allied bombers were armed with heavy machine guns and equipped with power turrets besides hand held positions, and were fed with a large supply of linked ammunition.

The Germans on the other hand operated hand held weapons, that used magazines and gave little firing time and needed to be changed not an easy thing to do during the heat of battle, and how many magazines could a bomber crew carry in the cockpit without getting in the way of movement and flying duties...I'm no expert, but this is the way I see it.

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