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Dogfight Training and Confidence Building

Heroes Remember

Dogfight Training and Confidence Building

One day they said we were going to go dogfighting and they took two of us together. They took two students, you go up and then you break off like this and you come back at one another head on, why you never hit the nose head on is beyond me and then you’d try and get on the other’s tail. You’d go up high, 15,000 feet or something to start and of course I went high with the spitfire, I could go to 35 or something in that mark. But anyway, of course, we didn’t have oxygen. If you went in at 15 you’d be okay, more or less, anyway, there was a chap, Charlesworth. We went off and he’s a dogged kind of guy, a pilot fighter, and we went off and we came at one another and then we’d try and get on the other guy’s tail. It went on and it started getting competitive and I had got more and more competitive. I felt better and better and what you got, instead, you wouldn’t look at the instruments, all the time you would always look at the instruments; the engine instruments, flying instruments, altimeter, speed, air speed but when you start dogfighting you don’t, you just, I got into this right away, a few minutes within the dogfight, just concentrate on it, fly by feel and just concentrate on getting inside him because you see you’re going around like this all the time, even to the point of stalling, the airplane is shaking. And that business of forgetting instruments and just flying by feel was wonderful and we came down, we were up there doing an hour and a quarter or something like that and when I, when I got down I felt so much better. I thought, “Well, I can.” I felt I can do this.

Mr. Smith discusses learning how to dogfight and his decreased reliance on his instruments, learning instead to trust the “feel” of his Spitfire. This experience renews his confidence as a pilot.

Roderick Smith

Roderick Smith was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in March, 1922. He was the second of four children. His father, who had served in the First World War, was a land surveyor. Mr. Smith had been fascinated by propaganda leading up to the Second World War, so he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 following the completion of his Senior Matriculation. After pilot training in Canada, he was selected for overseas flying duty. His first tour of duty was on Malta and Mr. Smith’s impressive list of enemy aircraft destroyed began here. He was also shot down himself while on this tour. After returning to England, he joined 401 Squadron piloting new generation Spitfire 9's. Mr. Smith was in action on D-Day, and later did strafing runs in German held France. Later at Nijmegen, he destroyed several more enemy aircraft, including the shared kill of a prototypical ME-262 jet fighter. Mr. Smith retired with the rank of Flight-Lieutenant, DFC and Bar, with thirteen destroys, 1 shared and ½ possible to his credit.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roderick Smith
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
401 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant

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