Jeffrey Quill-Chief Test Pilot

Oral recordings of Jeffrey Quill who served as pilot with 17 Sqdn, RAF in GB, 1932-1933; served with Meteorological Flight at RAF Duxford, GB, 1933-1935; civilian test pilot with Supermarine Aviation in GB, 1936-1940; officer served as pilot with 65 Sqdn, RAF during Battle of Britain, 1940; served as test pilot with Supermarine Aviation in GB, 1940-1943; served as test pilot with Fleet Air Arm in GB, 1943-1944.  © IWM

REEL 1 Background in Littlehampton, GB, 1913-1931: family; education; early interest in aviation; taking short service commission in RAF, 1931. Aspects of period as pilot with 17 Sqdn, RAF in GB, 1932-1933: posting to squadron, 1932; character of squadron; question of inadequacy of RAF equipment and use of Bristol Bulldog; redeployment of RAF fighter squadrons after 1933; Air Defence of GB exercises, 1932-1933; sound defection system. Aspects of period as pilot with Meteorological Flight at RAF Duxford, GB, 1933-1935: posting to unit, 1933; work of Meteorological Flight. Recollections of period as test pilot with Supermarine Aviation in GB, 1936: background to circumstances of leaving RAF.

REEL 2 Continues: question of obtaining permanent commission in RAF; memories of Phillip Sassoon; role as assistant to ‘Mutt’ Summers at Weybridge; aircraft types handled; characteristics of experimental fighter Vickers Venom; impressions of ‘Mutt’ Summers; work of test pilot in measuring performance and handling characteristics; first news of Supermarine Spifire prototype, 1935; first flight of Supermarine Spitfire at Eastleigh, 5/3/1936; initial disappointment at Supermarine Spitfire’s maximum speed; modifications and role of flush riveting.

REEL 3 Continues: memories of R J Mitchell and question of accuracy of his portrayal in film ‘First of the Few'; R J Mitchell’s interest in test flights; problems with Supermarine Spitfire’s narrow stability margins; opinion of Rolls Royce Merlin engine; placing of first RAF order for Supermarine Spitfire; doubts about cost of production and maintenance of Supermarine Spitfire; flying the Supermarine Spitfire; visibility problems on taxi-ing Supermarine Spitfire.

REEL 4 Continues: reaction to declaration of Second World War, 3/9/1939. Recollections of operations as pilot with 65 Sqdn, RAF during Battle of Britain, 1940: volunteering for fighter squadron; joining squadron at RAF Hornchurch, 5/8/1940; problem of gaining sufficient height from RAF Manston; memories of Adolph ‘Sailor’ Malan; opinion of German Air Force; first encounter with German Air Force Messerschmitt Me 109s; comparison between Supermarine Spitfire and Messerschmitt Me 109; combat advice given by squadron pilots; problems of attack from behind; questions of operating as wings; comparison of role of Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire during battle.

REEL 5 Continues: presence of inexperienced pilots in squadron and squadron losses; impressions of Air Vice Marshal Keith Park; reasons for problems of aileron control on Supermarine Spitfire; opinion of calibre of German pilots; attitude towards Germans; lack of sense of importance of Battle of Britain; opinion of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Recollections of period as test pilot with Supermarine Aviation in GB, 1940-1943: return to Supermarine Aviation, 24/8/1940; reclarification of operational problems of Supermarine Spitfire including windscreen visibility and ammunition counters; degree of success he had during Battle of Britain; meeting with Lord Beaverbrook.

REEL 6 Continues: development of canon armament for Supermarine Spitfire; vulnerability of Supermarine Aviation factory at Wooston and it’s dispersal, autumn 1940; development of Supermarine Spitfire Mks V and IX; introduction of Rolls Royce Griffin engines into the Supermarine Spitfire; story of how Harry Broadhurst took prototype Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX on an operation; test demonstration between prototype Supermarine Spitfire Mk XII, Hawker Typhoon and Focke Wulf 190 at Farnborough, 7/1942. Aspects of period as test pilot with Fleet Air Arm in GB, 10/1943-3/1944: Royal Navy’s fighter policy; invitation to join Fleet Air Arm to help develop carrier-borne fighter aircraft; development of Supermarine Spiteful.

REEL 7 Continues: post war development of Supermarine E10/44 into Supermarine Attacker using wing from Supermarine Spiteful. Visit to Nazi Germany, 1935. Memories of Charles Lindbergh’s visit to Supermarine Aviation at Eastleigh, 1939. Question of pre-war security at Supermarine Aviation.