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Posts Tagged ‘legless fighter pilot’

Winner: Frank, followed by the Driver and Carol

Frank seems to be getting the hang of this, winning for a second week in a row. Tied with the Driver in regulation, he needed only one round in the playoffs to win tonight’s game.

If truth be told, the Driver just gave away the game, missing a very easy question – who did 87% of Cubans in Florida vote for in the 1980 election? Why it was Ronald Reagan, of course, not George H.W. Bush.

Good Question!: Name the legless fighter pilot of World War II.

Choices: a. Red Baron  b. Douglas Bader   c. Ernst Udet   d. Tex Hill

Answer: Douglas Bader

SIR DOUGLAS BADER, WORLD WAR II ACE

Sir Douglas R.S. Bader, Britain’s legendary legless fighter pilot of World War II, was credited with downing 24 German planes in 1940-41.

He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1930 at the age of 20 and lost both legs when his Bulldog fighter crashed during an aerobatic display near Reading in November 1931.

He was discharged from the Air Force in 1933, but was determined to fly again. He had artificial legs made at the Roehampton center for limbless ex-servicemen in South London and learned to walk on them while working for an oil company.

When war broke out in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, Britain was desperate for pilots and he persuaded the R.A.F. to take him back as a pilot, where he flew fighter sorties in the Battle of Britain.

He attributed his success in aerial combat to the three maxims of German ace Erich Hartmann:

If you had the height, you controlled the battle.
If you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you.
If you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed

He flew Hurricanes and Spitfires, fighting his first action during the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk in May and June 1940 after France capitulated.

He got his first ”kill” there with his Spitfire, downing a Messerschmitt 109. He was made a squadron leader and then wing commander, leading the first R.A.F. fighter squadron with all Canadian personnel.

Sir Douglas destroyed an estimated 30 enemy planes, of which 24 were officially confirmed. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, both with bars, for courage and leadership. He was also decorated twice by the French.

In August 1941, his Spitfire collided with a Messerschmitt over Bethune in France, and he was captured after parachuting to earth. He was held prisoner by the Germans, despite four escape attempts, until he was freed by American troops in April 1945.

Sir Douglas R.S. Bader, Britain’s legendary legless fighter pilot of World War II, died in 1982 from a heart attack. He was 72 years old.

To see Bader’s Spitfire, the plane that won the battle of Britain (a short clip) :

For those with plenty of time, here is a fascinating and quite touching “This is Your Life” British TV piece on Bader:

 

 

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