Poll for most iconic RAF figure of WW2

The RAF Benevolent Fund is hosting a poll to find the most iconic RAF Figure of World War Two. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding is leading the poll at present, with 28% of the votes.

The full list is as follows:

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (28%)
Group Captain Douglas Bader (22%)
Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris (18%)
Wing Commander Guy Gibson (17%)
Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park (8%)
Winston Churchill (4%)
Group Captain Cunningham (3%)
Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Tedder (1%)

Regular readers of my blog will be able to guess who I voted for. For sheer impact on the war, leadership and contribution to victory Bomber Harris has no equal. He just edges it over Hugh Dowding, who also made a valuable contribution to the war, in that he didn’t lose the Battle of Britain. Sadly, Bombers have never quite had the same appeal as Fighters when it comes to history, and the Bomber Offensive has become controversial to some people.

A vote for the best RAF post-war Fighter Jet saw the Tornado come out on top, ahead of the Phantom by a mere 37 votes:

Tornado (28%)
Phantom (28%)
Hunter (25%)
Lightning (9%)
Harrier (8%)
Meteor (1%)
Vampire (1%)

In terms of performance it is probably fair that it is a close call between the Tornado and the Phantom. But what about the Harrier? It might not evoke quite the same ‘white cliffs of dover’ nostalgia as the out-and-out fighters, but its unique characteristics, versatility and ability to influence battles should surely earn it more than an honourable mention.

Another recent vote found that the Phantom was the most important US-built aircraft in RAF History:

Phantom (37%)
Hercules (29%)
Liberator (14%)
Dakota (9%)
Chinook (5%)
Catalina (3%)
Reaper (1%)

How the Dakota and the Chinook scored so low escapes me. Perhaps it shows the RAF’s fixation with fighters, but without the workhorses such as the Dakota and the Chinook Phantoms and Tornados would be irrelevant. For sheer contribution to conflicts from D-Day, Market Garden, Burma for the Dakota, and for Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan, surely their impact has been much more important than a Fighter which hardly saw action with the RAF?

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2 Comments

Filed under Royal Air Force, World War Two

2 responses to “Poll for most iconic RAF figure of WW2

  1. But I would question whether or not Harris is ‘iconic’. Important undoubtably but does he hold an iconic status in the eye of the public I doubt it. Think about the reaction to the unveiling of his statue a few years back. Is that the reaction to someone iconic.

    Personally I voted for Dowding but Park would have been another choice.

  2. James Daly

    I think the public perception of Harris has suffered from the way the history of Bomber Command has been treated. He was certainly iconic to his crews and to the British public at the time.

    Mind you I guess you could argue the same about Dowding, the way he was quietly sidelined after the Battle of Britain has led to him being under-rated I feel. The assumption is usually that if a commander is replaced, then they weren’t up to much, and maybe that has affected Dowding’s legacy?

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