Text: Marc Arys - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys - Translation: Marc Arys   İ sbap 2017
   

To commemorate the Battle of Britain and celebrating Duxford's centenary, the organizers put up a very nice flying program for both days.

Opening the flying festivities, the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team demonstrated their know-how and their own and unique non-contact canopy stack.
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 Britain.
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 strafing effects.
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 version.
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 in 1945.
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 on Sunday.
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.
Once 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...

SBAP 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)

 
(Serge Van Heertumİ)

 A leap into the past   (Serge Van Heertumİ) 350 Belgian Squadron?  (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 (Serge Van Heertumİ) Preparing the planes for the show... (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 (Marc Arysİ) Sir Richard Grace  (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 The Hawker Sea Fury T.20 (VX281) is back on the airshow scene after her belly landing of July 31st, 2014   (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 Heu...arrows are painted in the wrong side I guess  (Serge Van Heertumİ) (Serge Van Heertumİ)
 Chris Götke, the sympathetic Sea Fury pilot...  (Serge Van Heertumİ)
 (Serge Van Heertumİ) Was present only in static and get back to Yeovilton on Sunday
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 Some speciel guest ready for the show...(Serge Van Heertumİ) ...many thanks for what you did 75 years ago!  (Serge Van Heertumİ)
 
 Royal Air Force "Falcons" parachute Display Team
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 Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
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 The "Tiger Nine" Formation
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 Curtiss Wright P-40C Warhawk
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 Hawker Fighters
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 Russian Front
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 Great War Display Team
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 Royal Navy Fighters Duo
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Bristol Engine Formation
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 Navy Fighters and Rescue
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 Cold War Jets Era
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 Heavy Formation and Top Cover
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 "Miss Helen" landing after the mid-air collision (Serge Van Heertumİ) Left stabilizer damage (Serge Van Heertumİ)
 "Sharkmouth" hit the other P-51 with her screw  (Serge Van Heertumİ) Fast inspection of the damage  (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 Her Majesty the Spitfire Formation
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 (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 The Battle of Britain Tribute
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 (Marc Arysİ) (Serge Van Heertumİ)
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 It was again a great show closing the 2017 season...Rendez-vous in 2018 for more beautiful Warbirds!  (Serge Van Heertumİ)

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