After enjoying initial successes against Luftwaffe pilots unfamiliar with Britainís turret fighter, Defiant crews soon discovered the limitations of their aircraft. The significant additional weight of the gun turret, combined with a relatively poor arc of defensive fire meant that German Messerschmitts soon learned how to attack these unusual aircraft. As combat losses began to mount, RAF Defiants were relegated to night fighting duties, where the aircraft would be much less vulnerable and could make better use of its offensive firepower.
As the night Blitz against London raged, Defiant crews would have to develop their own interception techniques, as many were not trained in this type of fighting. They learned quickly and soon began to score victories against the Luftwaffe raiders, helping to establish a cohesive night defence system and rebuilding the reputation of the Defiant. These all black nocturnal hunters became some of the most distinctive RAF aircraft of the Second World War.
Scheme 1 - Defiant I N3328 DZ-Z 151 Squadron Wittering, 26 February 1941
Scheme 2 - Aircraft flown by Squadron Leader Philip James Saunders, No.264 Squadron, Royal Air Force Debden and Biggin Hill, England, December 1940/February 1941.