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Weapon loadout


Strewth
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Strewth

This is an interesting Story I came across, where Flying Officer Geoffrey Bryson Fisken speaks about his gun sighting and loadout. It would be nice to see an option like this in IL*2.

"In those days, all planes were normally sighted so that the guns had a 96 square foot range but I reckoned you could fly through that so I dropped mine down to 300 yards so that every gun was within a 20-foot range. With more firepower going into a smaller area, and with incendiaries, if I hit something I knew very well it would go up. You had to get permission to do that and I got permission. I was also interested in what I loaded into my own guns and the way I loaded them. I normally used two ball, three armour piercing, four incendiary and then a tracer. The last two hundred rounds of ammunition in the belts were all tracer to let you know you were short of ammunition and to get the hell out of it."

Flying Officer Geoffrey Bryson Fisken, DFC
Fisken was an RNZAF fighter pilot who was the British Commonwealth's leading air ace in the Pacific theatre of World War II. He is credited with shooting down 11 Japanese aircraft.
Fisken was born in Gisborne on 17 February 1916 and worked as a sheep farmer, but always had a keen interest in flying, learning to fly privately during the 30s in DH60 Gypsy Moth.
At the outbreak of WWII in 1939, Fisken volunteered for the RNZAF but was initially barred from enlisting because his profession as a farmer was deemed vital for the war effort.
But in 1940 he convinced his employer to release him for service and joined the RNZAF as pilot, with rank of Sergeant Pilot.
In February 1941 he was posted to Singapore, where he was attached to the RAAF at Sembawang for a conversion course on to Wirraways, and then on to Buffalos.
Two RAF squadrons, 67 and 243, were in the process of being formed at Kallang, and Fisken was posted there. These embryo squadrons had only a few pilots (mostly New Zealanders, with RAF Commanders) and did not form into separate units until more personnel had arrived from New Zealand where they were in training.
In October 1941, Fisken was moved to Mingaladon, in Burma, with 67 Squadron but returned a few days later to Kallang to serve with 243.
After the Japanese invaded Malaya on December 8th, 1941, the squadron was quickly into action.
During one dogfight, a Zero that Fisken had just shot down blew up beneath him, damaging his plane and sending him into an inverted spin. He attempted to bail out but didn't realise his brand new snake skin flying helmet had become stuck due to the Buffalo receiving bullet hits to the oxygen container, jamming the tube that connects it with the mask, which was sewn into his helmet. With one leg in the cockpit and one leg out, he forced himself back into his plane and ‘heaved’ on the stick and managed to get it under control, landing with bloodshot eyes.
On February 6th 1942, he was jumped by two fighters and was injured in the arm and leg by a cannon shell, he nevertheless shot one down, but only narrowly escaped the other. On landing his damaged plane, his engine failed and the undercarriage would not come down, but he managed to crash land among the bomb craters on Kallang airfield. As he clambered from his wrecked aircraft his mechanic fainted at the sight of a large piece of shrapnel embedded in Fisken's hip. Fisken tried to extract it with pliers, but was forced to go to hospital.
Fisken shot down 6 Japanese aircraft while flying the Buffalo in defence of Singapore.
By this time, 243 Squadron had lost the majority of its pilots and virtually all its aircraft. As a result, it was merged with the Australian No. 453 Squadron RAAF, which continued to operate, along with No. 488 Squadron RNZAF.
Fisken was evacuated to New Zealand shortly before Singapore fell, where the RNZAF formed the surviving pilots from No. 243 and 488 Squadrons into No. 14 Squadron RNZAF at Ohakea, flying the P-40 Kittyhawk.
As a result of his performance in Singapore, Fisken received a commission and was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer. In April 1943, he joined No. 14 Squadron at Wigram. Later the squadron was posted to the New Hebrides where they were based at Palikulo Bay Airfield on Espiritu Santo, before moving to the front line at Kukum Field on Guadalcanal on 11 June 1943.
During this time Squadron Leader Quill gave P-40M NZ3072 to Fisken as his personal aircraft.
This plane was dubbed the ‘Wairarapa Wildcat’ by Fisken, due to the fact that some of the ground crew for the plane and his girlfriend at the time were from the Wairarapa region of New Zealand.
On June 12th, Fisken shot two Zeros in NZ3072 ‘Wairarapa Wildcat’ and on July 4th he shot down a further two Zeros and one ‘Betty’ bomber in NZ3060.
For historical accuracy, it is important to note that many artists have incorrectly painted Fisken shooting down a Zero in NZ3072 with the words ‘Wairarapa Wildcat’ and kill flags on the chin cowling. But during Fiskens combat on June 12th, only the black cat and the number ‘19’ were painted on the cowlings. The rest of the nose came later. (the black cat being painted on by a US maintenance unit)
After his victoires on June 12th, his P-40 was named and painted with the words Wairarapa Wildcat’ and 8 kill flags were initially painted on to represent his 6 kills in the Buffalo and 2 kills in the P-40. Then a further 3 flags were painted on after his victories in NZ3060.
In 2002, Fisken explained to author Chris Rudge some of his reasons he was successful as a fighter pilot.
In Fiskens own words from Chris Rudges book “Air-to-Air”.
“I think part of my success was due to the fact that I loaded and sighted my own guns in.
In those days, all planes were normally sighted so that the guns had a 96 square foot range but I reckoned you could fly through that so I dropped mine down to 300 yards so that every gun was within a 20-foot range. With more firepower going into a smaller area, and with incendiaries, if I hit something I knew very well it would go up. You had to get permission to do that and I got permission. I was also interested in what I loaded into my own guns and the way I loaded them. I normally used two ball, three armour piercing, four incendiary and then a tracer. The last two hundred rounds of ammunition in the belts were all tracer to let you know you were short of ammunition and to get the hell out of it.
I also knew I could shoot. I had been deer culling a lot before the war. On the station where I worked we had thousands of deer and were supplied ammunition by the station owner to shoot these deer. I knew I could shoot because you’re doing all deflection shots with them - they're not standing still and looking at you. They used to be running like hell.”
In September 1943, Fisken was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. However, he found himself increasingly troubled by the injuries he had received in Singapore, and was medically discharged from the RNZAF in December 1943.
His DFC citation reads -
"During his tour of Guadalcanal, this officer shot down five enemy aircraft, four Zeros and one Mitsubishi bomber and also severely damaged another Zero. These successes were additional to his score of three enemy aircraft destroyed in the Malayan Campaign. This officer has shown outstanding keenness and ability."
Fiskens official tally of kills was 11, but the number can differ between 10 and 13 confirmed victories and and another five probably destroyed.
However he is regarded as the highest scoring British Commonwealth pilot in the Pacific.
Following his discharge from the RNZAF, Fisken returned to farming. He married his girlfriend Rhoda and together they had six children, five boys and a girl.
He was later employed by the Egg Marketing Board after selling his farm before eventually retiring in 1976.
On 12th June 2011, Geoffrey Fisken passed away at the age of 96 in Rotorua where he had lived for 31 years.
Photos are from the Fisken family’s personal collection (the center photo is of Rhoda and Geoff) and the Airforce Museum of New Zealand, and are colourised by Daniel Rarity.
Thank you to Flying Officer Fisken’s son, Peter Fisken for supplying the photos and proofreading my article about him.
Edited by TOG_Strewth
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