View Full Version : Douglas Bader, the pilot with no legs

Apr-11-2015, 10:40
Seems the chap would cause terror among german pilots, even if he was disabled.


Apr-11-2015, 10:44
I think that is the guy who the Germans said they would take his legs if he tried to escape captivity again... LOL, now thats some heart :)

Apr-11-2015, 14:33
A very well known and loved pilot due to his pure defiance. My mum was born in the same wing that he was in at Royal Berkshire Hospital (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Berkshire_Hospital) as was Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

His life is documented in the film Reach For The Sky (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reach-For-The-Sky-DVD/dp/B00004CYY5), in which actor Kenneth More became a close friend of Douglas Bader and learnt to imitate him just about perfectly. The hospital also features in the film.


Apr-11-2015, 16:19
He was less well known for his three rules of air combat tactics... similar to 'Sailor' Malan's, but they are also apply:

If you had the height, you controlled the battle.
If you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you.
If you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed.

Apr-11-2015, 18:05
... and be (together with Leight-Mallory) the use of the ineffective Balbo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Wing) (Big Wing) formations in B of B. :D

Apr-11-2015, 23:18
... and be (together with Leight-Mallory) the use of the ineffective Balbo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Wing) (Big Wing) formations in B of B. :D

Yes, but he also adopted the finger four formation for the RAF and started using wings of multiple squadrons which was much better suited for offensive flights than single squadrons.

And Reach for the Sky is a great book!

Apr-11-2015, 23:27
It's going to sound as a joke but is not...

Could having no legs allow to pull more G's?

I mean, the blood can't go anywhere so is kind of a G suit.

Apr-11-2015, 23:28
It's going to sound as a joke but is not...

Could having no legs allow to pull more G's?

I mean, the blood can't go anywhere so is kind of a G suit.

They actually talk about that in the book. You're right!

TF5 should have a "metal legs" option. Reduces the size of the pilot kill hitbox and lets you pull more G's!

Apr-12-2015, 02:51
It was a fact that smaller pilots actually often did better or were able to withstand high speed maneuvers better than large men.

All pilots who had athletic backgrounds or who were very physically fit typically did better too.

Apr-12-2015, 05:21
I still play soccer so I fly like a atleet..
:-) claer mind in a healthy body ... counts.. i never fly when I am tired... bud this ww2 guys they had to tired or not.. quick way to die..

Apr-12-2015, 09:42
Bader caused more problems to the RAF with his and Leigh-Mallory's theory on "Big Wings".
Totally ineffective they were a drain on resources and men.
His "Rhubarb and Circus" raids into France after the Battle of Britain and the departure of Hugh Dowding as Chief of Fighter Command was proportionally more costly to the RAF in men and machines than the Battle of Britain had been.
Personally I think his claim for 11 snappers during The Battle was exaggerated!

Apr-12-2015, 09:44
... and be (together with Leight-Mallory) the use of the ineffective Balbo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Wing) (Big Wing) formations in B of B. :D
I fully agree with this post!
"Never in the field of human conflict has so little been owed by so many to him!"

Apr-12-2015, 09:51
Bit of a @55hole was the general consensus of many pilots who knew him. He flew to the greater glory of himself and paid with pilots lives.
Not a nice guy apparently.

Apr-12-2015, 13:45
A good friend of mine's father - also ex-RAF - worked for Bader at Shell Aviation after the war and described him as "difficult", lol.

Really interesting interview from the BBC archive with Bader in the mid - sixties. Given his background, he has views that might not be expected.


I hope, since its the Beeb - everyone will be able to see it.

Apr-12-2015, 14:48
No one mentioned the film about him staring Kenneth More?....If you haven't seen it then its a must...Just like 'The one that got away' about Von Werra...Both are excellent films and true to the book more so than Hollywood style movies

Watch them...they are good films..

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/01/17/article-2541007-0156EA4F00001005-425_306x423.jpg http://static.bips.channel4.com/bse/orig/reach-for-the-sky/reach-for-the-sky-20090515134712_625x352.jpg

http://treckera.net/uploads/posts/2011-05/1306722857_1306722840.jpg http://networkonair.com/features/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/onethatgotaway01.jpg

Apr-12-2015, 17:10
According to Johnnie Johnson, the leading RAF scorer of the war at 38 kills, Bader was a superlative combat leader, and inspired his Squadron like no other.

What his personality was like outside of war, another question.

Regarding Leigh-Mallory, the commander of 12 Group during the BoB... I don't have a high opinion of him. He consistently undermined Dowding during the BoB, his emphasis on the 'Big Wing' was a negative on the ability of the RAF to respond effectively to German raids. Compared to Quintin Brand, who commanded 10 Group, Leigh-Mallory was ineffective in supporting 11 Group. After the battle, Leigh-Mallory conspired again to get Dowding shunted aside in favour of himself. And yes, his 'Rodeos', etc. were extremely costly to the RAF, for very little return. Postwar research indicates the RAF lost 4 aircraft for every 1 German shot down in 1941 when Leigh Mallory was pushing these operations.

The real hero of the BoB, along with Dowding, was Keith Park, the big tough New Zealander, who commanded 11 Group and who bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe attacks. He was flexible and innovative, and knew exactly when to commit his Squadrons, and at exactly the right time.

"If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don't believe that it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill, did to save not only this country, but the world".

Lord Tedder, Marshal of the RAF

He flew his own personal Hurricane during the battle, and would show up at the operational fields to determine the situation himself. Very 'hands on'.


Like Dowding, he was pushed aside by Leigh-Mallory, but that worked to the benefit of the British war effort, he was sent to Malta in July of 1942, and commanded there during a critical phase of the siege of that island as well as continuing during the invasion of Sicily.

Leigh-Mallory was killed in an air crash in an Avro York in 1944, ironically he had demanded his pilot take off in conditions which the crew did not want to fly. He insisted and the entire crew was lost.

Park survived the war, and died in New Zealand at age 82. A statue of him was recently unveiled in Britain at Waterloo Place:


Apr-13-2015, 08:17
When all else fails!
The statue of Sir Hugh "Stuffy" Dowding outside the RAF chapel at St Clement Danes, The Strand, London.
16580 16579 16581

Apr-13-2015, 08:24
Keith Park was amazing. According to 'The Decisive Duel' (a dual biography of the Spitfire and Bf-109), he actually took part in the final mission over Dunkirk!

Apr-16-2015, 11:48
I think Parks and the RAF's greatest battle honour was Malta, Having spent the last few months reading all I can about Malta, I honestly am astonished at the resilience and doggedness of both the civilian population and the armed forced operating from there!

A truly inspirational show of valour under almost impossible circumstances!