Pattle Hurricane air combat
South African RAF pilot Flt Lt Marmaduke Thomas St. John 'Pat' Pattle fires his newly-delivered Hawker Hurricane fighter's eight machine guns for the first time, downing a Fiat G.50bis 'Freccia' of the Italian air force near Berat in Albania on 20 February 1941.
Pattle and others from 80 Squadron, based at the time at Paramythia in northern Greece, were escorting Bristol Blenheim bombers of 84, 211 and 30 Squadrons in an attack on Berat. As the Blenheims left the target area they ran into Regia Aeronautica fighters climbing out of Berat airfield - who were 'bounced' by the Hurricanes.
Pattle’s section took on four of the attackers and he singled out the leading G.50. It turned sharply but he stayed with it and blew it to pieces.
Pilot Officer Geary, air gunner in Squadron Leader Gordon-Finlayson's Blenheim, said later: "A G.50 came for us and in a flash a Hurricane just shot it off our wingtip. It simply rolled over, went on fire, and dived into the mountain. It was wizard." The Italian pilot, Tenente Alfredo Fusco, was killed.
My artwork was commissioned to accompany an article about Pattle, "the forgotten ace", in the 2021 Autumn Journal of the RAF Memorial Flight Club. Our assignment of the code letter 'P' to his aircraft, serial number V7724, is artistic licence, as no-one seems to know what it was except that it was not 'Q', of which a photograph exists. I would be happy to hear from anyone who might be able to shed any light.