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Spitfire: A Test Pilots Story

Jeffery Quill

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Nev26/04/2012 16:05:05
592 forum posts
221 photos

I think the title says it all. This if my favourite of all the spitfire books and follows the whole development. I used to borrow it from the local library quite regularly some years ago but have not read it recently. I will have to look for a copy.

I’m liking the idea of the book club by the way and have bought a couple of the recommendations. Just need to find the time to read them now.

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator26/04/2012 21:29:08
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

I agree Nev - its a cracking book. Quill was probably second only to Alex Henshaw in terms of his experience on the Spitfire - and his technical insights, as a development test pilot, are excellent. Like you it is a book I've read more than once. Mine is a paperback version - but I don't know if it still in print.


Alan Randall26/04/2012 22:47:46
446 forum posts
108 photos

One of my regular reads. I bought a copy from the book club years ago. It complements Alex Henshaws book 'Sigh for a Merlin' because they tell different parts of the Spitfire Story. Quill spent his most of his time time on development flying, where as Henshaw spent most of his time on production testing at Castle Bromwich

Terry Walters27/04/2012 08:58:42
1831 forum posts
1068 photos

Just sitting in UK on the first day of a visit and what book do I have with me that I am I reading at the moment? Yep - Sigh for a Merlin. About half way through and its excellent. If you read widely about this era what Jeffery Quill says puts another level on the knowledge of that time. I am working my way thro' a number of similar autobiographies and this one is well worth it.

I bought mine from Amazon together with Faster than the Sun - Peter Twiss.

Get yourself a copy and you won't regret it!

No modelling for 2 weekscrying 2. Able to buy lots of RC stuff at UK prices and no silly carriage chargesteeth 2!!


Alan Randall27/04/2012 14:00:57
446 forum posts
108 photos

I think my favorite story in Quill's book is where he was asked to take a Spitfire to i think Bosombe Down for a race with the captured FW190 and a Typhoon. On realising that the Spitfire was expected to come last in a race between the 3 aircraft, he decided, with Joe Smith's agreement, to take the Griffon Spitfire which turned the result on its head and got the Griffon Spitfire noticed by the Air Ministry.

Nev27/04/2012 20:37:15
592 forum posts
221 photos

Just got my 99p, e-bay copy delivered today so am going to settle in over the weekend for a refresher.

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator27/04/2012 22:15:59
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

The part I found most interesting was all the trouble they were having with the fabric covered ailerons at high speed (no surprise there then - my interest I mean not the ailerons! embarrassed) and just how long it took them to actually get a solution in place!


David Tweddle27/12/2012 15:26:24
290 forum posts
3 photos

Checked with Kent Libaries for it no go so ebay 99p on its way, Ishould get it 2nd - 3rd Jan yes

Erfolg27/12/2012 16:06:42
11368 forum posts
1194 photos

There are two books you may all be interested in reading, with respect to the Spitfire story.

The first Interceptor Fighters for the Royal Airforce, by Michael Bowyer. The deals with the various stories from the perspective of the MOD Specifications/contracts such as F9/26 , more specifically pertinent F10/35.

The second "Spitfire, icon of a nation" by Ivan Rendall, again starting the story well before the Spitfire itself, dealing with Schneider Trophy.

Both are useful, in that the why of the Spitfire and also the Hurricane, as they were. Being the result, of the requirements that were wanted by the RAF, at specific points on the time line, what the reasoning was. Projects that failed, although matching the requirements of the specifications. Also considered, the state of the art with respect to manufacturing techniques, and as importantly manufacturing resources, available to the contestants.

Although mentioned, the importance of available suitable engines and there development. Often leaves it to the reader to almost think the Merlin was inevitable. Yet not really so, many engines falling by the way side, before and after. That some had considered Radials, how political thinking, had its own prejudices, having swung from only radials are suitable to, nothing but an inline water cooled engine.

Most books, and like many of you, I have a fair number, start the story properly at the 1, occasionally mentioning the SM 227. Yet in historic terms even the Hughes racer and other similar aircraft, all had an influence. The flirtation with evaporative cooling. The experiences gained on the surface cooling systems having been tries on Schneider racers, in some instances

For me the historic context, gives more colour to the story of the Spitfire, as has been said "a fusion of science and art"

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