Saturday, June 2, 2018

Battle of Britain - Scenario 8b - July 19th 1940 – RAF Losses Rising

This is the scenario was not in the original design of the Battle of Britain campaign becuase I did not have any Bouton Paul Defiant models. However I managed to buy some from AIM (Armaments In Miniature) so this scenario could be added,

The campaign follows the exploits of the fictitious Country of Dampshire 369 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force. We use the Wings of Glory WW2 rules, slightly modified to give faster play, together with our own set of campaign rules. We use the Wings of Glory planes where the right model is available, other manufactures are used to fill in the gaps.

The Background

RAF losses were rising fast. If anyone had drawn a graph, it would have “proved” that Fighter Command would cease to exist within six weeks. As far as it is known, no one at Fighter Command drew such a graph.

RAF fighters were getting scarcer and scarcer, and 19th July was the day that the Bouton Paul Defiant was sent into the battle.

The two-seater Bristol Fighter had proved a great success in WW1, and the Defiant was thought to be a modern version of it. However in 1940 the Defiant was already obsolete and proved a disaster. It's only armament, a dorsal turret, had problems firing forward - it couldn't fire through the propeller and had a minimum elevation of 19 degrees. One pilot said, “The Defiant could only attack another plane once it had past it”.

No. 141 Squadron’s Defiant fighters were in combat with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 Es of JG 51. Of the 9 Defiant fighters that entered combat, only 3 returned; none of these would probably have made it, had not No. 111 Squadron’s Hurricanes entered the combat to save the day.

The Action

Two Bouton Paul Defiant fighters were patrolling over the south coast. They just flew clear of a cloud formation, when they spotted a pair of Messerschmitt 109 E-4s off their port wing.

The Defiant pilots split formation, one turning sharply to starboard and the other to port. However the 109 wingman stuck tightly to his leader and held formation.

Accurate shooting from the Defiant's rear turret soon set one Messerschmitt on fire, wounding the pilot.

As the Defiants had separated, the 109 pilots could pick out one target and concentrate on it. Although the Defiant's rear-gunner bravely returned fire, his machine-guns were no match for the Messerschmitts' cannon. The first Defiant was soon a goner!

The Messerschmitts then ganged up on the second Defiant, giving it no chance to survive, even though the Defiant pilot had dived to give his rear-gunner as best a shot as possible. High above the fight, two Hurricanes led by Pilot Officer Percy Prune entered the fray.

A snap shot by Prune on the flaming Messerschmitt was enough to do for the Hun, but in the same second the Hun's wingman shot down Prune's.

A tight turning dogfight ensued between the two remaining fighters, out of which Prune emerged victorious.

Pilot Officer Percy Prune was now all alone in the sky above the south coast. So he made a low level pass over the fields where his kills had gone in. There was a plume of fire where the flaming 109 had hit. He saw the pilot from his second kill climbing from the wreckage and a platoon of Home Guard running towards him.

Returning home, Plume performed a couple of victory rolls, first over his local pub (The Black Swan) and then over the airfield itself.

These forbidden victory rolls so enraged the Squadron Commander that he knew he must discipline Prune. But that’s not an easy thing to do when a pilot has just shot down two Jerrys. So instead he decided to transfer Prune to No. 369 Squadron, a squadron already full of known troublemakers!


British Victory - One Hurricane remained, master of the sky!

  • Pilot Officer Prune: 2 Kills.
  • Leutnant Kein Name 1: ½ Kill, Shot down, KIA
  • Leutnant Kein Name 2: 2½ Kills, Shot down, Captured by Home Guard. 


As this mission was added after the campaign started, we used new pilots; initially with no name, however Pilot Officer Prune did so well in his Hurricane that he was named.


  1. The Defiant could fire forward! More or less. The Gunner could rotate the turret to directly forward and depress the gun barrels along the sides of the fuselage. They could even be locked at an elevation and the pilot could control the trigger Why??? Schrage Muzik! The Defiant was intended to come in below and behind bombers and attack with zero-allowance shots (where the combination of elevation and airspeed makes the bullets follow the exact boresight, with no apparent ballistic arc). This type of shooting was widely used by pusher two-seaters with a nose gunner in the First World War, as well as by the pilots of fighters with over-wing Lewis gun (which were on rails that let them swing back and down for reloading). Zero-allowance shooting using tracer is very easy and very accurate. It even works in turning dogfights where the fighter would normally need to get its nose in front of the target in the turning arc, in order to compensate for time off flight.

    Unfortunately, the Defiant couldn't synchronize its guns with its propeller, so it could not fire DIRECTLY forward. More importantly, its performance was too poor for it to dogfight effectively (the weight of the powered turret and gunner was just too much, even though it carried half the guns of a Hurricane or Spitfire, and carried the weight nearly on the roll axis, instead of way out in the wings).

    The Defiant actually made sense when bombers would have to come from Germany proper, or even the Netherlands, because fighter escorts simply couldn't reach England from there! No one foresaw France collapsing in six weeks ... Only when the 109s were all over did the Defiant suddenly become obsolete in its intended role.

    Another interesting use has been brought up: what if they had been used as close escorts for the Battles in France? Their defensive turrets certainly would have made the Battles much more dangerous targets for Get an fighters.

    1. Great comment Chits n Things!

      The big problem with the Defiant firing forward was, as you say, that the pilot didn't have a gunsight which necessitated using zero deflection gunnery. However zero deflection gunnery doesn't seem to have been taught or practiced by the RAF during the Second World War. This despite the fact that it was common knowledge among veteran First World War pilots and it featured in some Air Ministry specifications for fighter design. Zero deflection gunnery was however used by Luftwaffe pilots in the Second World War.

      Our rules for the Defiant give it a poorer manoeuvre deck than the 109 and restrict the fire from the turret so that it cannot fire straight ahead or through the wings or tail.

      It would be interesting to try a scenario with Fairey Battles being escorted by Defiants as you suggest.