Duxford Imperial War Museum, known for its beautiful collection of vintage aircraft and for the air shows, such as The Duxford Air Festival, The Flying Legends in July and the Daks over Duxford event. But let's talk about the season-end of a beautiful season in Duxford, The Battle of Britain Airshow 2019.
RAF Duxford was a part of the scenery for the filming of The Battle of Britain film. Also, at the opener of The Battle of Britain Airshow 2019 was a tribute to the movie, with four Buchon’s who brought us back to the years where pilots feared the Buchon’s. Together with 3 Spitfires MkI and 4 Hurricanes they brought a scene from the movie The Battle of Britain. If you talk about the The Battle of Britain, it's hard not to mention the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) operates from RAF Coningsby; a Typhoon and fighter base in Lincolnshire. The BBMF operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane Mk 2Cs, a Lancaster as well as a C47 Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training). Today at the RAF Cosford Airshow, the BBMF De Lancaster and Spitfire are flying. The Avro Lancaster, the most successful British heavy bomber of World War II, powered by two 24-cylinder Rolls- Royce Vulture engines and armed with a mixed load of high- explosive bombs and armed with a powered tail turret mounting four 0.303-inch (7.7-mm) machine guns, a powered twin-0.303 turret on the upper rear fuselage, and a pair of 0.303s in the nose; a few had twin-0.303 belly turrets. Operated by a basic crew of seven, including the pilot, copilot, bombardier, navigator, radioman, and gunners. Many of these young crew lost their lives over enemy lines during dangerous nightly bombings. The Lancaster PA474, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, is one of only two Lancaster aircraft remaining in airworthy condition out of the 7,377 that were built (the other is in Canada with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at Hamilton, Ontario).
From the Historic Aircraft Collection we have a very special airplane, The De Havilland DH9. The DH9 was designed from the outset for strategic bombing, as by then the Zeppelins and Gotha bombers were making life rather frightening on the UK mainland, so something had to be done to bring the war to the German homeland and give the Germans a taste of their own medicine. So – the strategic bomber was borne and the DH9 became the first in a long line that extends to today's air forces throughout the world. The aircraft was not a great success initially with large numbers shot down, or more often, force landed having suffered engine failure. They also were unable to carry their designed heavier bomb load due to the limited power from the 200 BHP or Puma engine. The last two surviving DH9 airframes were discovered in India and returned to the UK by the Historic Aircraft Collection. One was restored to static condition and is now one of many aircrafts displays at IWM Duxford. The other DH9 was restored to flying condition and is now the only original First World War bomber flying in the world today and had its maiden flight in May this year at the Air Festival at IWM Duxford.
The Bremont Great War Display Team are a group of highly experienced pilots who display replica World War One aircraft in a safe, carefully choreographed, low level dog fight routine to replicate how aircraft were flown during the Great War over the trenches of Northern France and Belgium. The Team flies six
different types of aircrafts as the Avro 504, BE2, Sopwith Triplane, Fokker Dr.1, SE5A and the Junkers CL1. The Avro 504 went to war in 1914 as a frontline aircraft, but later excelled as a trainer. The Royal aircraft Factory BE2 quickly proved to be incapable of defending itself against German fighters, although it later became an effective night fighter. The Sopwith Triplane was an immediate success, capable of out-climbing and out-turning any enemy scout and was quickly copied by the Germans in the form of the iconic Fokker Dr1 Triplane. The SE5A was fast, rugged and an excellent gun platform and was used by many Allied aces. Unusually for the period, the Junkers CL1 two-seater ground attack aircraft was an all-metal monoplane. The dynamic display is flown at low level and the Bremont Great War Display Team was the first team authorised by the CAA to operate at 75metres from the crowd making for an unforgettable experience . The realism can be heightened by the use of Pyrotechnics to make the display even more exciting.
The Furious formation, Air Leasing’s Fury, was built for the Iraqi Air Force in 1953 and returned to these shores in 2016. It carries the colours of the SR661, one of Hawker’s Sea Fury prototypes. The two seater training version of the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation’s was used as a target-towing aircraft in West Germany and the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s example was built as a weapon trainer and was likewise sold to the West German government. The Sea Fury T20 was a fighter trainer and is still used today by the Royal Navy Historic Flight to give Sea Fury display pilots much valued access to a trainer version of this most demanding of aircraft types.
A masterpiece of power and performance, the T20 generates great interest and excitement at air shows around the country augmenting the Flight when Sea Fury FB.11 is unavailable and enhancing the Royal Navy’s core collection of classic historic naval aircraft. Sea Fury T20 G-RNHF (VX281) was the second of 60 Sea Fury T20 aircraft built as weapon trainers for the Fleet Air Arm. Delivered to the Royal Navy in 1950 she served with 736 and 738 Naval Air Squadrons at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose before being sold to the West German Government in 1963. Painted in the markings of an F10 single-seat aircraft of 799 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton in 1949, VX281 was acquired from the United States in 2007 and rebuilt at North Weald.
The aircraft is loaned to the Royal Navy Historic Flight by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and is displayed by the Historic Flight under an agreement between the Trust and the Royal Navy.
The legendary Memphis Belle formation, The Boeing B-17 G ”Sally B”, is the leading aircraft in the bomber Escort, B-17 Flying Fortress G-BEDF. Sally B is the last remaining airworthy B-17 in Europe and based at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and flies under the colour scheme of the USAAF 447th Bomb Group. The B-17 G ”Sally B” was escorted by The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt also play his part in the Bomber Escort. The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, the P-47D was built in 1945 and put into storage until it was sold to the Peruvian Air Force in 1953, with whom it served until 1967. It was taken back to the United States in 1969 and restored to flying condition. In 1986 it joined The Fighter Collection at IWM Duxford, well known as ‘No Guts No Glory’. The aircraft is now in the colours of the 48th Fighter Group’s 492nd Fighter Squadron under the name ‘ Nellie’. The North American TF-51D Mustang from Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd/Air
Leasing flew together with the P-47D Thunderbolt the tribute to the USAAF Fighters and assisted on Sunday by 2 F-15E Strike Eagle Flypast from the 48th Fighter Wing, USAF, RAF Lakenheath.
Who does not remember the expression of the young Christian Bale in the movie Empire of the Sun when he saw the legendary Cadillac of the Sky, The Cadillacs of the Sky formation. Four P-51D Mustangs provided by Hangar 11, Air Leasing Ltd, Norwegian Spitfire Foundation and the Aircraft Restoration Company. The P-51 Mustang was originally designed for the Royal Air Force. However, it became a long-range escort fighter for the U.S. armed forces against Nazi Germany. The production process was efficient and quick; about 14,000 were built during WWII. It was a powerful and fast aircraft with extensive range. The P-51 Mustang was stiff competition for the Luftwaffe.
The Mercury formation with the Blenheim, Lysander and Gladiator. The Bristol Blenheim is a truly unique aircraft and was a milestone in the history of British aviation as the first stressed skin aeroplane accepted by the RAF. After 25,000 man hours and help of a lot of volunteers The Blenheim Mk1 fly again and brings the glory of the past in contemporary airshows.
The “Lizzie” or otherwise known as The Westland Lysander, is a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft produced by Westland used immediately before and during the Second World War. This exceptional aircraft performance clandestine missions using small, improvised airstrips behind enemy lines to place or recover agents, particularly in France. The Gloster Gladiator Mk1 from The Shuttleworth Collection built in 1937 but not actually assembled until 1938. In 1948 it, together with Gladiator II N5903, was bought by Glosters. In 1950 the two were delivered to Air Service Training for use as instructional airframes at Hamble and Ansty.
When Ansty closed, the aircraft were bought by Viv Bellamy for a nominal sum. L8032 was restored using the engine from N5903 and flew again as G-AMRK. L8032 was bought back by Glosters in 1953, in 1956 returned to full military specification in 72 Squadron markings, albeit with the fictitious serial K8032. When Gloster Aircraft closed the Gladiator was presented to The Collection for safe keeping on 7 November 1960. In 1990 the aircraft was repainted in a camouflage scheme, with No 247 Squadron codes and wore these until a fabric re-cover was carried out in 1996. Part of the restoration work was funded by donations in memory of the late Robin Bowes, a good friend of The Collection, who was killed flying his Fokker DR1 replica on Sunday 20 July 1995. When finished, the Gladiator emerged in Norwegian colours for filming. In 2007 it re-appeared as K7985 of 73 Squadron RAF, the aircraft flown by the WWII Ace ‘Cobber’ Kain at the 1937 Hendon Air Pageant.
Another formation with the Catalina and Wildcat FM-2, the Pacific Navy formation. The Catalina make its first flight in 1935 as a long-range patrol bomber and anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection and as an air-sea rescue aircraft. The Catalina was built in Canada in 1943, serving the Royal Canadian Air Force on anti-submarine patrols. In 2004 it arrived at IWM Duxford and wears now and overall white livery with the markings of the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron based at Halesworth in Suffolk. The Grumman Wildcat was the US Navy’s first retractable-her monoplane fighter, entering service with both the US Navy and the Royal Navy in 1940. The Wildcat was a highly maneuverable, hard-hitting, effective little fighter and it fought with great distinction in virtually every combat theatre until the end of the war. Around 7885 aircrafts were built and 1200 served with the Royal Navy, under the name Martlet. The Fighter Collection ’s
Wiltcat was built in 1945. It was restored to flying condition in the USA before moving to IWM Duxford in 1993. It carries the colour scheme of Fleet Air Arm aircraft and is the sole airworthy example in Europe.
The Korean Era Piston fighters,F4U Corsair and Grumman Bearcat F8F. The first service for the Corsair was with the US Marine Corps operating from makeshift land bases across the Pacific, and it was not until later that she was operated from aircraft carriers initially with the British Fleet Air Arm. The Corsair proved to be a formidable air superiority fighter during World War II when she was the scourge of the skies across the Pacific and continued to deliver sterling service in later years during the Korean War. The Bearcat was designed and manufactured by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation in response to the US Navy’s request in the latter war years for a fast responsive fighter to be deployed in the Pacific Theatre. The Catalina make its first flight in 1935 as a long-range patrol bomber and anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection and as an air-sea rescue aircraft. The Catalina was built in Canada in 1943, serving the Royal Canadian Air Force on anti-submarine patrols. In 2004 it arrived at IWM Duxford and now wears overall white livery with the markings of the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron based at Halesworth in Suffolk.
The era of trainers has arrived at the Battle of Britain Airshow with a geographic flight of the Boeing PT-17 Stearman and one Yale, Vultee and two Harvards. After the unmistakable sound of the Harvard we open the airspace for the Yak 3 and 9, a cat and mouse game with the Soviet Union's best fighters of the Second World War. Back to The Korean Era Piston fighters with the Canadair CT-133 Silver Star and the Mikoyan Mig-15 UTI, both of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron.
The end of the airshow and as you can expect from Duxford, an 18 strong formation of British pride, the Spitfire. But the very last part of the airshow was reserved for the tribute to Ray Hanna in the Spitfire Mk IX MH434.