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By H. Wittenberg

Airplane layout four (2001) seventy nine - eighty

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They didn’t seem to take any notice of that. It didn’t seem to make any effect. ’19 There was an age limit for fighter pilots and, at twenty-nine, Caldwell knew that ‘it was darned near too late for me’,20 so he asked his friend Eddie Samuels, a chemist, to professionally amend the date on his birth certificate. Samuels did and on 19 October 1939, Caldwell arrived at 2 Recruitment Centre at Erskine House with the altered document. The Corporal there looked at Caldwell’s certificate, and then at Caldwell.

Jean McIvor Main was the second daughter of George and Mary Main. Main was a well-known pastoralist and the chairman of the Australian Jockey Club (AJC). The Mains lived on a property outside Illabo, near Cootamundra, but went up to Sydney frequently. Their elegant, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, blonde and classically beautiful daughter often featured in the social pages. Caldwell had first met Jean while she attended Ascham School and he Sydney Grammar. Jean was a school friend of Patricia and Babs Long Innes, the daughters of Justice Reginald Long Innes.

This situation quickly changed as German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers, Junkers Ju 88 high-speed bombers and Messerschmitt ME 110 heavy two-engined fighter deployments quickly took their toll. By the end of April, only Tobruk was still in British hands. The Germans of I/JG27 with its ME 109s quickly established superiority over the Hurricane squadrons. The Hurricane was at a height disadvantage and, even at low altitude, the ME 109 had superior climbing performance. It could also outrun a Hurricane in level flight.

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Aircraft performance, theory and practice by H. Wittenberg


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