Secrets revealed part I
Secrets revealed – Part I
When the Fw 190 appeared and started defeating Spitfires, the RAF’S senior officers became deeply worried. They urgently wanted to know the weaknesses of this dangerous new machine and how to exploit them. A plan was even drawn up to steal one but then a fine specimen simply fell into Britain’s lap and comparative testing began…
The true capabilities of the Fw 190 were still a mystery to the RAF by the summer of 1942 and its apparent ability to overcome even Britain’s best fighters was a source of great concern. Hearing about the threat posed by this advanced aircraft from his Vickers test pilot friend Jeffrey Quill, Captain Philip Pinckney, leader of 12 Commando’s E Troop, devised a daring plan to capture one. It was so daring, in fact, that it amounted to a suicide mission on Pinckney’s part. He wrote to his commanding officer on June 23, 1942, to outline how it might work. On the first day, Pinckney and Quill would speed across the Channel in a motor boat and weigh anchor one or two miles off the French coast. They would then use a canoe to paddle ashore under cover of darkness. Hiding the canoe in a wood or burying it in the dunes they would lie low until night fell again. They would then proceed to within visual range of an airfield, conceal themselves, and spend the following day observing its movements. At night they would penetrate the airfield’s defences and hide near to a Fw 190. The next day, when the German mechanics warmed up the aeroplane’s engine, the two men would shoot them. Quill would then jump in and take off, leaving Pinckney to somehow escape the airfield, make his way back to the concealed canoe and then paddle out to sea to await collection by motor boat. Fortunately for Pinckney and Quill, on the same day that the plan was submitted, June 23, German pilot Oberstleutnant Armin Faber of III./JG 2 took part in a mission to intercept 12 RAF Boston bombers returning to base. Faber engaged one of the bombers’ Spitfire escorts in combat over the Channel and became disorientated while trying to shake it off. He eventually shot it down, the pilot managing to bale out safely, but then mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north, thinking South Wales was France. Low on fuel, he landed at the nearest airfield he could find – RAF Pembrey. The duty pilot at the airfield grabbed a Very flare pistol, ran out on to the airfield as Faber was taxiing in and jumped on his wing, pointing the pistol at him. Faber was captured and the RAF now had a brand new Fw 190A-3. It was swiftly repainted in RAF camouflage colours and given the serial number MP499, along with a large ‘P’ for prototype to help guard against any overzealous pilot who might recognise its shape and attempt to shoot it down while flight tests were ongoing. Testing began at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at RAF Farnborough on July 3, 1942, and MP499 was flown against Spitfire Vb, IX and XIIS, a Mustang 1A (P-51), a P-38F Lightning and a Typhoon. The following are direct transcriptions from the report issued after the tests were concluded.
WNR. 5313, as it Oberleutnant Armin Faber, The Fw 190A-3 of the unfortunate on June 23, 1942 (right), at RAF Pembrey in south Wales appeared when captured later (left).the British painters paint scheme a short while and sporting its new RAF on the engine cowling untouched. left the cock’s head motif