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