Guy Martin’s flying high in Battle of Britain
He’s broken ribs, shattered his hands, punctured his lungs and broken his back not once but twice – the first time in three places – so it takes a lot to phrase the motorcycle racer, truck engineer and likeable TV presenter Guy Martin
Still, last week’s opening episode of this two-part documentary that sees him training to become a Second World War fighter pilot contained more than enough excitement even for him.
He first tried his hand at the controls of an aircraft in a Tiger Moth biplane, before graduating on to a much faster model – the Harvard, in which he learned his first aerial combat manoeuvres.
All that and the clay pigeon shooting (which was used during the War as a training exercise to help rookie pilots shoot fast-moving targets) too made the first half of this living-history documentary a riveting watch, and tonight we get to see whether his hard work has paid off.
The plan was always to take to the skies in a Hawker Hurricane and, to get a better insight into what those brave members of the ‘Greatest Generation’ had to go through during the Battle of Britain, face a Messerschmidt 109 in a dogfight in the skies above Kent
His training has to ramp up a few gears first, with lessons in handling an aircraft performing extreme manoeuvres while flying at 200mph, as well as in coping with the massive g-forces being exerted on him (although his time spent racing motorbikes in TT races must help here) and even in flying upside-down.
And then there’s the weaponry. The clay pigeon shoot might have helped with his aim, but that shotgun is a world apart from the Second World War aircraft machine guns that the Hurricane is equipped with. He needs someone more acquainted with the hardware and so enlists the help of the Parachute Regiment to teach him his stocks from his barrels.
Of course, Guy’s no novice when it comes to Second World War planes – back in 2014 he made a similar programme about the iconic Spitfire. However, the Hurricane is a different beast altogether, made out of wood and fabric – as opposed to metal, like the Spitfire – meaning it was faster and easier to both produce and to repair. It was also considered more stable and accurate in combat than its more famous cousin, the Spitfire apparently living up to its name and being quite wild and unpredictable at times.
Unfortunately, the fact it’s made out of less durable materials means the aircraft hasn’t survived the rigours of time in the same way that steel aircraft have. In fact, only one two-seater Hurricane exists in the world today – and it’s this which Martin will be hopping aboard and taking the controls of.
Speaking to The Sun ahead of this new programme, Guy said: “Anyone who knows anything about the Battle of Britain talks about the Spitfire, but the Hurricane gets forgotten. So this programme is dedicated to that plane — and what a great experience it was. I’m a lucky b****** to do this job!”.
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