Spitfire Season (5)
Rhubarb - the RAF code name for low-level interdiction missions in Occupied France. As the fighter arm of the RAF recovered from the disaster of the escape from France in 1940 and the attrition of the Battle of Britain it became possible to take the fight to the Luftwaffe. Low level sorties were authorised, often in poor weather conditions, in which sections of aircraft were tasked against ‘targets of opportunity’ in specific areas. The pilots were thus given freedom to roam looking for rail and road transport, unsuspecting aircraft on local flights and commit general mayhem on military targets. Airfields with their comprehensive AA capability were generally avoided or very strictly limited to the ’one pass, haul ass’ adage. These tactics proved very successful and were used until the end of the war in Europe - indeed they survived right up until 1960 with the Canberra BI8 specifically designed for such interdiction missions.
The image shows an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ scenario with a section of MkVb Spitfires from 402 Canadian Squadron streaming through France in the early morning light on the hunt for suitable targets. Typical ‘Rhubarb’ stuff and a flight profile much loved by all aircrews!
Image is a multiple composite constructed from the usual airshow pics and a suitable, if not quite la belle France, background -actually Lancashire (I plead artistic licence!).
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