Battle of Britain

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Battle of Britain (1969)

Battle of Britain is a 1969 World War II film that depicts the events surrounding the air defense of the British Isles by Royal Air Force, Commonwealth and allied pilots against the German Luftwaffe in 1940. The film was directed by Guy Hamilton and featured an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Ian McShane, Edward Fox and Robert Shaw (Fox and Shaw would reunite with Guy Hamilton for Force 10 from Navarone.) The film also took the extra step of hiring actual Germans to play Germans, speaking German, rather than the usual practice of hiring British or American actors speaking English with German accents.

Much of the film's budget was spent on the aircraft used. Eventually, about a hundred aircraft were involved, with about half of them airworthy, including 12 Supermarine Spitfires and 3 Hawker Hurricanes. The remainder were made up of "German" planes, which were all Spanish-built variants of the Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Heinkel He-111 built under license. The Spanish planes ended up portraying German aircraft for the next four decades, appearing in films like Patton, The Hindenberg, Memphis Belle, and The Tuskegee Airmen before being replaced by computer generated graphics in the 21st century.


The following weapons were used in the film Battle of Britain:

Contents


Machine Guns

MG15 Machine Gun

During the Battle of Britain, Heinkel He-111 bombers can be seen armed with MG15 machine guns as defensive armament. The He-111s in this film were actually Spanish Air Force CASA 2.111s, which were still being used in auxiliary roles at the time.

MG15 machine gun 7.92x57mm Mauser
BattleBrit 05.jpg
This is an excellent shot of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines of the CASA 2.111, which distinguishes it from a real He-111. The Spanish Air Force was forced to replace the original German Jumo engines after the supply of German engines dried up after the war.
BattleBrit 10.jpg
BattleBrit 11.jpg

MG17 Machine Gun (mockups)

The original German Me 109 carries two MG17 machine guns. Since the movie production used Spanish HA-1112-M1L aircraft which did not carry MG17's, or indeed any other weapon besides a pair of 20mm cannons, these nose guns are mockups.

MG17 machine gun - 7.92x57mm Mauser
An ME 109 with a pair of fake MG17s mounted on the nose of the aircraft.

Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20mm cannon

Like almost all post-war movies featuring the Messerschmitt ME-109, the ME-109s in this film are "played" by Hispano Aviación HA-1112s, which are ME-109s which were license-built in Spain during and following the war. HA-1112s were armed only with a pair of Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20mm cannons in the wings, which can trace a common ancestry to the Oerlikon FF 20mm cannon with the German MG FF 20mm cannon that it was meant to portray.

Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20mm with ammo drum
A shot of the different nose of the HA-1112. As with the CASA 2.111s, the original German engines were replaced by readily available Rolls-Royce Merlins. Also note the mocked up MG17 barrels on the engine cowling.
A front shot of a ME 109. The two 20mm cannons are barely visible portruding from each wing.
BattleBrit 13.jpg
BattleBrit 12.jpg

Browning AN/M2 Machine Gun

The RAF Spitfire and Hurricane fighters can be seen armed with Browning .303 Mk II machine guns, the British version of the American Browning AN/M2 machine gun as the main armament, chambered for the .303 (7.7×56mmR) British round instead of the American .30-06 (7.62×63mm) cartridge. Both the Spitfire and Hurricane carried eight of Browning machine guns.

Browning .303 Mk II - .303 British
Hawker Hurricane fighters in flight. Each wing contains a cluster of four Browning MGs each.
A closeup of a Hurricane and its eight MG's. This Hurricane was flown by a pilot from a Polish Squadron identifiable via the Red and white checkerboard on the nose.

MG34

An MG34 is briefly seen in a bunker on the German airfield. Two can also be seen being carried by German soldiers marching into Dunkirk.

MG34 light machine gun
BattleBrit 07.jpg
BoBritain MG34 02.jpg
Twin MG34s in an AA mount in Calais.

Browning M2 Quad Mount

What appears to be Browning M2's in a Quad Mount is seen on a German transport train. It is most likely meant to represent the (in the post-war years) rare German Flakvierling 38, which were often mounted on German trains.

The American quadruple .50 caliber AA setup.
BattleBrit 02.jpg
An original Flakvierling 38.

Rifles

M43 Spanish Mauser

German soldiers and Luftwaffe personnel are seen armed with M43 Spanish Mauser rifles. Parts of the movie was filmed in Spain featuring Spanish extras, airplanes, weapons and equipment.

Spanish Mauser M43 - 7.92x57mm Mauser
BattleBrit 07.jpg
BoBritain Mauser 02.jpg

MAS-36 Rifle

French troops are seen on the Allied airfield armed with MAS-36 Rifles.

MAS36.jpg
BattleBrit 06.jpg

SMLE No.1 Mk.III

SMLE No.1 Mk.IIIs are seen in the hands of several members of an LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) unit.

Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III* - .303 British. This was the main battle rifle of British and Commonwealth forces during the First World War, introduced in 1907 it has seen action throughout the 20th century.
An SMLE can be seen in the hands of one of the LDV unit members.

Unknown Mauser-type rifles

Two guards with their Mauser rifles.

Other Weapons

Double-barrelled Shotgun

A number of members of the LDV unit are armed with double-barrelled side-by-side shotguns of various models and configurations.

LDV soldiers armed with double-barrelled shotguns.

Webley & Scott No. 1 Mk. III* Signal Pistol

Webley & Scott No. 1 Mk. III* Signal Pistols are used at various points in the film.

Webley & Scott No. 1 Mk. III* Signal Pistol - 1 inch
A Webley & Scott No. 1 Mk. III* is used to warn the incoming pilot he's about to belly-land his Spitfire.

Trivia

Although the producers were able to obtain real German aircraft (or at least their variants) courtesy of the Spanish Air Force, real German armor was a bit more difficult to come across. (Some of the footage of the Germans rolling into Dunkerque was reused in Trail of the Pink Panther.)

M37 Howitzer Motor Carriage

An M37 Howitzer Motor Carriage, based on the M24 Chaffee, was mocked up as a German assault gun/tank destroyer. Note the white stripes on the gun-barrel, each would (in real life too) signify a tank-kill. (in this case 15 knocked out tanks)

M3 Half-track

An M3 Half-track stands in for a German Sd.Kfz. 251.

Daimler Armoured Car

A British Daimler Armoured Car armed with a Ordnance QF 2 pounder and a Besa machine gun.



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