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Official pre-war Air Ministry photograph showing Spitfires of No. 611 Squadron, probably at Digby in Autumn 1939. A Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit, No. 611 received their Spitfires in May of that year. After the outbreak of war the squadron was called up and based in Digby, carrying out defensive duties on the east coast. It became active in May 1940 over Dunkirk and was based in Lincolnshire during the Battle of Britain.
The depicted aircraft have three-blade two-pitch de Havilland propellers, bulged canopies and armoured windscreens, but aerial masts of the earliest type.
Note the line-astern formation of the section in the air. Typical for pre-war RAF tactics advocated by the Air Ministry, this formation was designed for attacking unescorted bombers. Approaching their victim directly from behind, all three fighters were expected to fire concecutively upon the enemy aircraft and then break off to the side. The efficiency of German fighter opposition in the air rapidly exposed all deficiencies of this formation, such as that the fighters were unable to offer protection to each other. [Crown Copyright]