commemorate the Battle of Britain and celebrating Duxford's
centenary, the organizers put up a very nice flying program for both
the flying festivities, the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team
demonstrated their know-how and their own and unique non-contact
Next-up we had 6 Hawker Hurricanes flying in formation, being the
only formation as such flown in Europe. Two Mk I, an Mk IIb, an Mk
XII, an MkX and a Sea Hurricane Mk Ib. What a sight. Too bad the
Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) did not
join them... See our special feature on the unsung fighter aircraft
taking a leading role in the opening scenario of the Battle of
The Avro Lancaster B1, the Hurricane MkII C and the Supermarine
Spitfire of he BBMF display in formation, always a sight to
remember. First in formation followed by the indivual displays of
each aircraft. The Lancaster from the BBMF is one of only two
airworthy Lancaster in the world. PA474 is currently painted to
represent Lancaster DV385, 'Thumper MkIII' of 617 Dambuster Squadron
issued as a replacement after the Dams Raid in May 1943.
Seeing the Tiger Nine formation flying their de Havilland DH82A
Tiger Moth in a perfect way, showcasing aircraft that many Battle of
Britain pilots flew when they started training. Based on a core of
former Diamong nine team members, this display team was formed in
2005 in response to a request for a nine-ship formation flypast at
the 25th de Havilland Moth Club rally at Woburn. Currently there are
13 team members coming from a variety of backgrounds, uncluding
airline pilots, ex-airline pilots, former RAF pilots, a company
director and an anesthesist.
A magnificent collection of interwar Hawker biplane fighters with
the Hawker Fury Mk I and the Hawker Nimrod II showing the
development of Hawker aircraft in the 1930's up to the Hawker
Hurricane. The Fury is unique as it is the only known survivor of
the type anywhere in the world, representing the peak of biplane
fighter development. Powered by a 525 hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel V-12
engine, the Fury was the RAF's first operational aircraft to exceed
200 mph in level flight. A monoplane version with a Rolls-Royce
Merling engine became the Hawker Hurricane prototype.
The Nimrod was developed from the Hawker Fury for operations from
the Navy's aircraft carriers. It was armed with two Vickers machine
guns and powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine.
The Curtiss-Wright P-40C Warhawk was one of two P-40C's acquired
from the former Soviet Union in the 1990's. During its restoration
in the USA it was decided to finish the aircraft in the colours of a
P-40 that was stripped of its olive drab camouflage and use as a
personal plane by the base commanders at Chanute Field in Kansas.
Suddenly we were under attack when a Hispano Aviacion HA-12 Buchon
strafed the airfield. But it did not take long for the defenders to
chase the intruder with a Yakovlev Yak-3M and a Yakovlev Yak-3UA,
taking us back to the Russian front during WWII. After an aerial
duel, the Buchon ate the dirt...
Despite the windy weather on Saturday, the Great War Display Team
took off to present combat tactics with replica of the First World
War aircraft, including a Royal Aircarft Factory BE2c, three Royal
Aircraft Factory SE5a, two Fokker DR1 Triplanes, a Sopwith Triplane
and a Junkers CL1 aircraft; accompanied by flak, bombing and
Aslo a beautiful sight in the skies is the Bristol Blenheim Mk I,
powered by 2 x 840 hp Bristol Mercury VIII radial engines. The
Blenheim was joined by the Gloster Gladiator Mk I and the Westland
Lysander Mk III. All powered by Bristol engines they formed the
Bristol Formation. The Gladiator displayed is the one of only two
airworthy Gladiators and painted as K7985 of 73 Squadron, flown by
WWI ace 'Cobber Kain' at the 1937 Hendon Air Pageant. The Westland
Lysander is known for its remarkable short landing and take-off
capabilities, which came to the fore during clandestine night
operations into occupied Europe, ferrying agents into and ou of
small fields... 'They landed by moonlight'
On the Navy Fighters side, the Corsair FG-1D with its inverted
gull-wing is unikely to be confused with any other aircraft. In 1940
the Corsair had the biggest engine and the largest diameter
propeller of any fighter in history and became the first fighter to
exceed 400 mph. It carries the colours of a Fleet Air Arm aircraft
of 1850 Squadron.
The Hawker Fury Mk II was powered by a Bristol Centaurus engine with
a maximum speed of 460 mph and armed with four 20mm canons and able
to carry 2,000 lbs of external ordnance and is seen carrying the
colours of SR661, one of Hawker's Sea Fury protoypes.
The Grumman F8F Bearcat arrived just too late to see service in the
Second World War, nonetheless 1.200 were built. With a Pratt &
Whitney 2,100 hp radial engine, the Bearcat was incredibly agile,
while its outstanding power-to weight ration gave it a phenomenal
rate of climb. Sadly on Sunday, the Bearcat suffered a technical
problem, and after take-off did not raise its landing gear but
completed just a circuit to come in to land again. Joined by a
Supermarine Seafire LF III, the Corsair did some nice formation
flypast. Seafire Mk III PP972 joined 809 Squadron of the Fleet Air
Arm in November 1944. This Squadron left bound for the Far East in
March 1945 to take part in operation Tiderace, the retaking of
Singapore. Numerous operations followed for PP972 including air
cover to support landings in Rangoon and Southern Malaysia, attacks
on Japanese coastal bases and airfields and the surrender of
Singapore in September 1945.
Staying within the Navy, the Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and the
Grumman FM2 Wildcat displayed their part. The Catalina was conceived
as a long-range patrol bomber but it proved so versatile that
Catalinas were used by the Allies in a variety of roles, including
anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection and as an air-sea rescue
aircraft. Originally it was a pure flying boat but later versions
had a retractable landing gear like the one flying at Duxford. 'Miss
Pick-Up' wears an overall white scheme with the markings of the 5th
Emergency Rescue Squadron based at Halesworth in Suffolk.
The Wildcat was the US Navy's first retractable monoplane fighter.
Although it could be tricky and unforgiving, the Wildcat was the
only carrier fighter the US Navy had and it bore the brunt of the
fighting in the Pacific until Grumman's F6F Hellcat arrived in 1943.
On to the jet era, where a Russian fighter was intercepted by two
British jet fighters. The Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-15 UTI first flew at
the end of 1947 and was a tubby, pugnacious-looking swept wing
fighter powered by an unlicensed copy of a Rolls-Royce Nene engine.
Like most Russian aircraft of the Cold War period, it was rather
crudely but solidly constructed and could withstand heavy
punishment. The de Havilland Vampire was he second jet fighter
(after the Gloster Meteor) to serve with the Royal Air Force.
Althoug it arrived to ate to see combat during the Second World War,
the Vampire served with frontline RAF squadrons until 1955 and as a
trainer util 1966. Originalley named 'Spidercrab' it first flew in
1943 entering service with the RAF in 1946. Over 4,000 were built
and many were sold to customers overseas. The Royal Norwegian Air
Force purchased 20 Vampires in 1948 and perated them in a
three-squadron wing until 1957. The two variants flown are the FB.52
single seat fighter bober version and the T.55, two-seat trainer
The heavy formation flight was formed by the B-17 Flying Fortress
'Sally B' and two Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Sally B is the last
remaining airworthy B-17 in Europe and as well as flying regularly
at air shows and commemorative events, she acts as he United States
Army Air Force's official flying memorial to the thousands of young
American's who gave their lives during WWII. Douglas C-47 Skytrain
'Drag-em-oot' came to the UK and flew on D-Day as well as on
Operation Market Garden over Arnhem. Used by a specialist unit to
recover gliders from Normandy (hence the 'Drag-em-oot' name), the
aircraft still bears the scars of its wartime career in the shape of
numerous bullet hole patches on het fuselage and around the cockpit.
The second one was builtin 1942 and served as a glider tug with the
Royal Candian Air Force and took part in the landing at Arhem in
September 1944 and later in the Berlin Airlift.
During their raids bombers needed top cover which could be provided
by the North American P-51D Mustang. Delivered to the USAF in 1945,
'Miss Helen' saw active service during the Second World War with the
352nd Fighter Group based at RAF Bodney in Norfolk, the so called
'Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney'. The second Mustang (KH774 - GA-S)
was delivered to the USAAF in JUly 1945 and spent most of its life
with training units in the USA before being transferred to the Royal
Candian Air Force in 1951. It is painted representing a Mustang Mk
IVA belonging to 112 Squadron of the RAF when it was based in Italy
Unfortunately the two Mustangs had a close encounter during the
teaming up with the Flying Fortress, but luckily both aircarft made
a succesful landing, be it an emergency landing for Miss Helen.
After her landing a big dent could be seen in the lefthand
horizontal stabilizer. As images and comments were already roamed
through the internet, SBAP will not report further on this incident
as a this will be investigated thouroughly by the right and
competent agencies. Following the incident both Mustangs did not fly
The sight and sound of 12 Spitfires flying together in a poignant
mass flypast always sent shivers down the spine. The flypast was
then followed by a stunning tailchase, sending Spitfires allover the
skies. The formation was made up with a Supermarine Seafire Mk III,
two Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb, three Supermarine Spitfire MkMk IX,
four Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXT, a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIV, and
a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI.
For the finale, a thrilling flypast led by the Bristol Blenheim with
three Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia, two Hawker Hurricane Mk I, a
Hawker Hurricane Mk II, a Hawker Hurricane Mk X, a Hawker Hurricane
Mk XII, a Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk Ib and a Gloster Gladiator Mk I
closing the formation.
again the last airshow at Duxford lived up to its expectations. A
nice static display, a great flying display, numerous activities,
and the typical British passionate and warm atmosphere, which makes
us come back every time...
wishes to thank heartily all the people at the Imperial War Museum
and Mrs Esther Blaine and her team in particular for their welcome
and facilities granted during our stay.
(By Marc Arys)