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Old 28th July 2020, 16:11
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Sqn Ldr Reginald J Peacock - Blenhein Ace

Bristol Blenheim performance figures (from 'Bristol Blenheim' [1]Crowood book by Theo Boiten & [2]Ian Allen book by Chaz Bowyer). Values are for the bomber versions, so expect a reduction for the fighter version with extra drag from belly gun pack.

Max speed [2]
SL 220mph (354 kmh)
5,000ft 247mph (397 kmh) approx 1.52km altitude
10,000ft 265mph (426 kmh) approx 3.0km
15,000ft 279mph (449 kmh) approx 4.5km

Max diving speed [1]
285mph (459 kmh)

Blenheim Mk.IV bomber, similar to the fighter flown by Peacok with 235 Sqn seems to have similar top speed 266mph @11,800ft.

Messerschmitt Bf109E-1/E-3 performance
- from Schiffer book 'Bf 109A-E' by Radinger and Schick

Max speed
SL - 460 kmh; short 5m duration at 1,015 hp/2,400 rpm for max continuous speeds
1 km - 480 kmh
2 km - 500 kmh
3 km - 520 kmh; at 3.7 km, short 5m at 1,100 hp/2,400 rpm
4 km - 540 kmh; at 4.1 km, continuous 1050 hp/2,400 rpm
5 km - 555 kmh
(power settings to achieve max speeds at roughly that height)

Max diving speed
750 kmh (at 3,000 rpm)

Max range - cruising speed at height
1 km - 430 km @2,200 rpm/ 650 km @1,300 rpm
3 km - 450 km @2,200 rpm/ 600 km @1,300 rpm
5 km - 460 km @2,200 rpm/ 665 km @1,300 rpm

- - - - - -

The above are sample performance data, just to give an indication of possible aircraft speeds at various heights that the Blenheim fighters (assumed to be Mk If's) and the Bf109E-3 might have encountered each other.

From what little there is to read about the pilots who made claims while flying Blenheim day fighters, they tended to be exceptionally aggressive. Peacock does not seem to be any different. The next few paragraphs are conjecture - as I am unable to locate any actual combat reports to confirm details - but I suggest it a possible scenario.

a) As an interceptor, the Blenheim fighter is not going to beat many (or even any) RAF fighters in a climb to height to intercept a raid. It is likely to arrive late, after the Spitifres, Hurricanes and even Defiants have already engaged. It is likely that the Blenheims will engage the Luftwaffe aircraft on the return trip after dropping their bombs. Alternately, on a fighter sweep over/offshore Holland, the Blenheim can enter the combat area at a higher-speed/power setting.

b) If the Blenheims are defending further inland over the UK; or if the Bf109Es are on a fighter sweep over Holland from bases in Western Germany - then the Bf109E-3s will be extremely fuel conscious; and likely to be flying at a cruising speed and height for best range on the return trip. So (as an example) at 3 km altitude (approx 10,000 ft), Bf109E-3 max speed is 520 kmh at approx 2,400 rpm. Returning from England, best range at 3 km height is for 1,300 rpm - so, very approximately 280-300 kmh. Bf109E returning from fighter sweep over Holland, and not having to fly over water, perhaps a higher rpm setting - at 3 km height, <2,200 rpm, very approximately 400-450 kmh.

c) At the same height, a pristine Blenheim Mk.I can achieve 426 kmh. A slightly worn, and more draggy Mk.If, can achieve at least 350-400 kmh (assuming higher, near-max power settings to try and achieve an intercept). If at 15,000 ft, then likely at the 400 kmh end of the scale. With a seldom seen height advantage, the Blenheim Mk.If can dive at near 450 kmh.

d) At this stage, the Blenheim Mk.If has a momentary height and speed advantage over the withdrawing Bf109E-3; with the Blenheim possibly diving at 450 kmh onto a Bf109E-3 cruising at 300-400 kmh. Before the Bf109E-3 can accelerate to 3,000 rpm (from 1,300 rpm) and bunt over into a dive reaching 750 kmh; and aggressively flown Blenheim has a chance to get in close with directly forward firing centreline gun pack.

e) Now whether the Blenheim scores hits causing the Bf109E-3 to smoke; or whether the smoke is due to a DB601 engine exhaust due to power increase becomes immaterial. The Blenheim pilot sees a 'smoking' Bf109E-3 diving away and makes a claim.

In my mind, this is a more likely scenario for an aggressive pilot like Peacock. For him to try and fly slow to try and out-manoeuvre the Bf109E-3 in a big, unwieldy Blenheim - basically inviting an initial attack by the Bf109, doesn't seem to fit the profile of the more successful Blenheim fighter pilots - over England, the Middle East or the Far East. Peacock - as noted in Shores' Those Other Eagles - made most of his claims with forward firing armament; only the 11-Aug Bf109 claim was scored as a combination of Blenheim gunner action.

My opinion only - as I said before, the above tactics are conjecture only. Perhaps Andy Bird can shed some light on whether the combat reports are available on-line yet.

- converting fuel into noise.
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