Old Timers

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Seven Hur­ri­canes aloft to­gether at Dux­ford plus other vin­tage news

In the finest tra­di­tion of the much­missed RAF Bat­tle of Bri­tain At Home Dis­plays, the IWM pre­sented a 4 1/2 hour cav­al­cade of 1930-40s war­birds on 23-24 Septem­ber. The Bat­tle of Bri­tain Air Show at Dux­ford had seven Hur­ri­canes (in­clud­ing a Sea Hur­ri­cane) in the air for the first time in decades — two flights of three join­ing to­gether for a tail-chase — and the BBMF’S PZ865, which dis­played with the Lancaster but did not land. This re­minded vis­i­tors of the key role that Hawker’s fighter played in shoot­ing down some sixty per cent of the Luft­waffe air­craft de­stroyed dur­ing the Bat­tle of Bri­tain. Of course Su­per­ma­rine’s iconic fighter was not ne­glected, a dozen Spit­fires – in­clud­ing a Seafire – mak­ing a for­ma­tion fly­past fol­lowed by a Bat­tle of Bri­tain fi­nale with three Spit­fire IAS, ARC’S Blen­heim, Shut­tle­worth’s Gla­di­a­tor and five Hur­ri­canes.

It was no sur­prise that B-17 Sally B took part in the fly­ing, but be­ing joined by two C-47 Sky­trains after their spec­tac­u­lar take-off from the grass, was new. This for­ma­tion should have in­cluded a pair of Mus­tangs but as they ma­noeu­vred west of Dux­ford to join up, the Nor­we­gian Spit­fire Foun­da­tion’s P-51D Shark­mouth struck Boult­bee’s P-51D Miss He­len, badly dam­ag­ing the lead­ing edge of its port tailplane, forc­ing pi­lot John Dodd to make an im­me­di­ate down­wind land­ing. The NSF Mus­tang, with su­per­fi­cial dam­age to its pro­pel­ler blades, joined the cir­cuit and landed nor­mally. There was a lively Rus­sian Front sce­nario with a pair of Yaks flown by Richard Grace (Yak 3M) and Will Green­wood (Yak 3UA) ‘at­tack­ing’ the air­field and driven off by Lee Proud­foot in Messer­schmitt 109 ‘Red 8’ (ARC’S Buchón). The un­usual pair­ing of Plane Sail­ing’s PBY-5A Catalina with TFC’S FM-2 Wild­cat was a wel­come reprise of the

duo first seen at Fly­ing Le­gends in July. Un­for­tu­nately a gusty cross­wind on Sun­day and me­chan­i­cal prob­lems pre­vented some of the fas­ci­nat­ing for­ma­tions from tak­ing place on both days. The His­toric Air­craft Col­lec­tion’s Hawker Fury and Nim­rod II and the Bris­tol Mer­cury-en­gined trio – Lysander, Gla­di­a­tor and Blen­heim – only flew on Satur­day while the Cur­tiss P-40C Warhawk ap­peared with­out the Hawk 75 on Sun­day. How­ever, the splen­did Tiger Nine for­ma­tion with eight Tiger Moths and Nigel Lemon’s dis­tinc­tive straight-wing Moth Ma­jor, per­formed suc­cess­fully in the gusty con­di­tions, as did the ev­er­pop­u­lar Great War Dis­play Team. The lat­ter’s dis­play was en­hanced by some good py­rotech­nics.

Fleet Air Arm car­rier ac­tion in the Pa­cific was high­lighted by Air Leas­ing’s Seafire flown by Pete Kynsey paired with TFC’S FG-1D Cor­sair in the hands of Alan Wade mak­ing their Dux­ford de­but to­gether. Richard Grace was in the air again in Anglia Air­craft Restora­tion’s Hawker Fury ISS and should have been joined by Brian Smith in TFC’S F8F Bearcat, but the lat­ter re­turned to the field on Sun­day, un­able to raise its un­der­car­riage.

There was only one item in the fly­ing pro­gramme that in­tro­duced the whine of jet en­gines, this com­ing when the Nor­we­gian Air Force His­tor­i­cal Squadron’s Vam­pire FB52 and T55, along with its MIG-15UTI, took to the air. From the open­ing drop by the RAF’S Fal­cons parachute team to the fi­nal land­ing by the Spit­fires and Hur­ri­canes, it was an ac­tion-packed af­ter­noon. www.iwm.org.uk

Re-en­ac­tors in RAF uni­form pose with three of the seven Hur­ri­canes that ap­peared (and one of the Spit­fires)

Spit­fires in squadron strength and (in­set above) an­other un­usual for­ma­tion, B-17 Sally B lead­ing C-47s in line astern

No fewer than six Hur­ri­canes in a tail-chase

(PHO­TOS: NIGEL HITCHMAN) Be­low, from left: a shot that lends scale to Seafire and Cor­sair; Yak 3M and 3UA duo - an­other rare sight; and one more in the form of FB52 & T55 Vam­pires es­cort­ing one from the op­po­site side, a MIG-15UTI

Above & be­low: P-51D Miss He­len comes in after an aerial col­li­sion with the Nor­we­gian Spit­fire Foun­da­tion’s P-51D Shark­mouth, whose pro­pel­ler took a size­able bite out of the lady’s tailplane

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