Se­crets re­vealed part I

Se­crets re­vealed – Part I

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS -

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.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

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

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