Hawker Hurricane deflection shot BW version
A Hawker Hurricane Mk I of No 85 Squadron pulling a lead on a Messerschmitt Bf 109-E of the attacking Luftwaffe at about 12,000ft over the North Kent coast during the Battle of Britain in August 1940.
Aerial gunnery using the rudimentary sights available to fighter pilots at the time was a tricky skill to master. To fire at an enemy aircraft successfully in the 4D space required an intuitive understanding of where the target would be in the time elapsed as the bullets flew through the air towards it. In essence, an attacking pilot had to aim ahead of and above the target's current position, known as deflection shooting. It was made all the more difficult by the central cockpits and long engine cowlings of contemporary fighters.
This picture was commissioned for the 2018 autumn journal of the RAF Memorial Flight Club to illustrate an article by former fighter pilot Squadron Leader Clive Rowley MBE RAF (Rtd), memorial flight historian. The angle of attack shown was worked out carefully in collaboration with him.