Welcome to the summer of 1940 limey75!
....and welcome to the forums too. You've found a good crowd here to hang with
Firstly, and most importantly - you will get better at combat flying in BoBII.
You just need to keep at it. Practice, practice, practice
Secondly, fly the game how you want, set it up how you want. You won't find anyone here calling you names or questioning your manliness for using icons, labels etc when you talk about your exploits in the game, and the use of PADLOCK is an essential part of being a successful combat pilot and fighter leader because of how the game is designed. Everyone here involved with BoBII will just be pleased to know you're flying it, having fun and hopefully learning about the history of the Battle itself as you do it
BTW, if I mention any keys or options below, I'll use the default keys.
Use the info line at the bottom of the screen to assist in getting your heading (I to toggle through the options).
Have you tried using the radio yet? Easiest way to find a lead back to your base is to ask the tower. Give them a call and they'll give you a heading (may also call it a vector) to steer to and a estimate of distance to fly (R > 5 > 2). You can keep asking them too as they never seem to get bored of updating you when asked. For now ask for a directions every couple of minutes to help keep you on track as it's easy to drift off course. If your home airfield is too far (say you're battle damaged), then ask for the nearest RAF fighter base (R > 5 > 3). You can also decare an emergency (R > 5 > 1) which will get you to the nearest airfield whether it be Fighter Command, Bomber Command or Fleet Air Arm. You can also use the map (M) and try padlock view for waypoints (F4 = next waypoint, SHIFT+F4 = previous waypoint), or when the tower responds to your request hit the padlock subject of last message (F5) and this will fix your gaze to the direction of the airfield to land at. To turn off padlock views, press (ESC).
With the landing training mission, if you're flying for the RAF you can be based at Debden, Kenley, Biggin Hill or Tangmere. You can set this under the mission parameters also with the weather conditions, time of day and aircraft/squadron you wish to fly with.
The training/single missions are completely independant for the campaign, so whatever you do there will have no effect on any campaign you fly (strategically). They are there to soley help provide experience in flying and fighting.
RAF airfields are deliberately difficult to spot from the air, most of them are just grass fields anyway. Landing and takeoff direction is down to the individual pilot and how they interpret instructions from the tower. Even if the airfield has a hardened runway, you won't get chastised for not using it if the circumstances dictate.
You'll also find flying solo and the respective airfield operations a very different and somewhat leisurely experience to a squadron scramble once in a campaign!
When in a squadron scramble, as soon as you're up the squadron leader will likely make a call. Padlock him as quickly as possible (F5) to help you get into formation and navigate your route.
If you keep losing sight of the leader or the formation, just ask for a position update (R > 1 > 2), then padlock (F5) when the leader replies.
Landing can be troublesome, it's just down to learning and understanding the aircraft you're in. The landing speeds will be slow - under 100mph. Once the flaps and gear is down, you'll probably find your pitch (elevator) trim is wound all the way up to keep the nose from sinking. Make sure the prop pitch lever is all the way forward too (also for takeoff). Once you're down, chop the trottle completely and once the tail wheel touches the ground keep the stick pulled back and blip the wheel brakes rather than hold them down in one long burst.
Practice in the Hurricane first. It's much more forgiving than the Spitfire.
Remember if you want to do circuits & bumps, get the flaps fully up and the pitch trim neutral sharpish before hitting takeoff speed again!
Don't be discouraged about the difficulties of air combat in BoBII. It isn't meant to be easy... it wasn't in real life. There is no set skill for your allies or enemy - you'll meet rookies, veterans and aces all mixed up... and all of them will be capable of keeping you busy and guessing what they'll do next.
Of all the RAF aircrews involved in the Battle, only a small percentage of them actually claimed aircraft destroyed. Even fewer became 'Aces'. Your job as an RAF fighter pilot is to prevent the Luftwaffe from bombing targets. If you can harass a bomber formation and make them abort their mission due to damaging the lead aircraft or a handful of bombers in the formation, you've done your job. If you knock any out the sky in the process, consider that a bonus - and a well earned bonus at that.
Same with keeping enemy fighter formations busy. If you kill a 109 or a 110 it's a treat. Keeping them so busy they can't afford the time to line up a shot on the RAF fighters that are taking pot-shots at the bombers is the aim of the game.
It's not unrealistic to say you can play a campaign for the RAF, fly 3 or 4 combat missions each day, survive the Battle from July to September, defeat the Luftwaffe, and still have no confirmed kills in your log book.
If you do dogfight, don't be afraid to abuse the throttle and the prop pitch. As long as you can get your aircraft back on the ground, she'll be repaired (eventually).
Once a fight is joined, it generally turns into a free-for-all. Normally there are so many aircraft up you can't sit back and take your time over tactics... just keep weaving and snap shots at targets that pass your nose.
Flying for the RAF, you'll often be at a disadvantage. You'll get caught in the climb or find you'll be outnumbered by enemy fighters before you get anywhere near the bombers. It can be a very desperate battle, and sometimes the situation will feel quite hopeless.
As for taking on the bombers - keep that speed up! Try to avoid the temptation of saddling up behind a bomber and picking it to pieces. It won't be long before you end up coming home in a parachute if you do that too often. Slashing attacks, quick bursts and go for the formation leaders if you can identify them.
Try changing the convergence distance of your guns. Go to the options, then ADV.>GAME and then type in the distance you want to try. The distance is set in yards. 1 yard = 0.9144 meters or equal to 3 feet.
For combat, try flying as a wingman for a bit (number 2 or 3 in a section) rather than a leader. Let the squadron leader call out the contacts and then experiment using padlock and different radio calls for targeting the correct formation for attacking. Call out targets where possible - don't leave it all up to the squadron leader. Follow the leader and see what he does. Listen to the radio calls as they come in and make sure you remember your call sign and that of the squadron you're with. And don't fly straight and level once you're in combat. I would also highly recommend having mid-air collisions (with the enemy) turned ON but turning the option for collisions with friendly aircraft OFF. The enemy are a big enough threat as it is without the chance of ramming a wingman should the formation suddenly change direction catching you off guard!
Just don't feel you're obliged to knock everything out the sky. It just won't happen! Attack the enemy, support any friendly aircraft if in trouble, get back home in one piece (or as few as possible) ready to take to the air for the next scramble.
So keep at it and keep the questions coming if you need any help at all whether it be about flying the aircraft, setting up controls or just trying to hunt down an option in the game menus. A helping hand is never very far away