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Night Owls

With the Battle of Britain at its height the first Beaufighters were delivered to operational units. The new, heavily-armed, long-range fighters were all destined for night-fighter squadrons. The initial batch was fitted with cannon only but also had the airborne interception (AI) Mk IV radar with its characteristic ‘bow and arrow’ nose aerials and wing blade aerials. These machines represented a step-change in the nocturnal war.

From the Filton production line, the ‘Beaus’ were issued to units equipped with Bristol Blenheim Ifs, most of which had been fitted with AI. Getting the Beaufighter ready for its debut were the following

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2nd Lt Frank W. Klibbe

August 1943,1 was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron of the 56th FG. For whatever reason, I was chosen quite frequency to fly wing with both Col Hub Zemke and Col Dave Schilling when they led the 56th into combat. We were expected to fly in a certain manner. If a guy screwed up, he was told to ‘get on the ball or get out’. As a result, our group became very aggressive and a close-knit nature developed whereby you could trust anyone you flew with. Sometimes, though, in the heat of battle, lack of communication between the lead and

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