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Did a Spitfire Really Tip the Wing of V1?

Facebook has built a reputation for being notoriously insecure, taking payments from attackers with little to no concern for the safety of its users; but a pattern of neglect for information security is not exactly the issue when a finance guy in Sydney, Australia gives a shout-out to a Facebook user for what he calls an “amazing shot” in history:

As anyone hopefully can see, this is a fake image. Here are some immediate clues:

  1. Clarity. What photographic device in this timeframe would have such an aperture let alone resolution?
  2. Realism. The rocket exhaust, markings, ground detail…all too “clean” to be real. That exhaust in particular is an eyesore
  3. Positioning. Spitfire velocity and turbulence relative to V1 is questionable, so this overlapped steady formation is unlikely
  4. Vantage point. Given positioning issue, photographer close position aft of Spitfire even less likely

That’s only a quick list to make a solid point this is a fabrication anyone should be able to discount at first glance. In short, when I see someone say they found an amazing story or image on Facebook there’s a very high chance it’s toxic content meant to deceive and harm, much in the same way tabloid stands in grocery stores used to operate. Entertainment and attacks should be treated as such, not as realism or useful reporting.

Now let’s dig a little deeper.

In 2013 an “IAF Veteran” posted a shot of a Spitfire tipping a V1, which passes many of the obvious tests above although it inserts some other nonsense about dangers of firing bullets and blowing up the V1 in air versus sending it unpredictably to ground:

Years then pass by until just a few weeks ago a “Military aviation art” account posts a computer rendered image with the comment “Part of a new work depicting the first tipping of a V-1 flying bomb with a wing tip. Who achieved this?”. Shame this artist wasn’t given credit by the Sydney finance guy, as it would have made far more sense, but there’s also some irony to the artist’s tweets.

The artist answers their own question in the next tweet. On the bright side this points us to real history. On the dark side they also sadly omit a link to original source or reference, let alone the (attempted) realism found in that “IAF veteran” tweet. The artist simply says it is based on a real event, with a photo of a pilot who achieved it. The details of this story not only are worth telling, they put this artist’s work in a proper context:

Fortunately “V1 Flying Bomb Aces by Andrew Thomas” is also online and tells us through first-person accounts of a squadron diary what really happened. While normally a V1 would be shot down, in this case after a Spitfire pilot found himself firing until out of ammo he became frustrated and instead managed to tip a wing of the V1:

Does finance guy in Sydney feel accountable for claiming a real event from a false photograph? Of course not, because he has been responding to people that it’s still a fine representation of a likely event so he doesn’t measure any harm to justify a correction. Was he wrong to misrepresent and should he delete the tweet and replace with a corrected one? Yes, but the real question becomes why he won’t, despite being repeatedly made aware of his error.

Posted in History, Sailing, Security.

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