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Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow 2021



September hails the ever popular Battle of Britain Air Show at IWM Duxford, a show designed to showcase those evocative sights and sounds of early war aircraft.  The last “official” air show of the year at Duxford, hopes were always going to be pinned high for a great aircraft line up and great weather to boot; that last item can often be a bit of a thorn in the side of shows later in the year, but thankfully not this year (well certainly for the Saturday show day).  A more relaxed and calmer day than past years air shows with a smaller than typical audience the show was a welcome continuation to recent air shows, and the “new normal” following lifting of restrictions earlier in the year.

Saturday started with a lovely bright morning with a little fog which very quickly turned into a real “Pea souper” giving a level of concern, which was thankfully short lived as the fog burned off giving way to a glorious blue skies with a nice scattering of white cloud.

This years Battle of Britain show saw free access to the flight line walk for all attendees; a nice touch that plenty of people appeared to took advantage of.  The ability to meander round and go on and off the flight line as you pleased was a lovely touch and accentuated the feeling of a much more relaxed atmosphere to go along with smaller than normal crowds.

This September’s show flying participation had a pretty regular Duxford style about it with significant numbers of Spifires, Hurricanes and a clutch of classics from The Fighter Collection in shape of their Curtiss Hawk 75, Curtiss P-40F Warhawk, Goodyear Corsair FG-1D and Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat.  Other regulars included the venerable B17-G Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’.  Amongst the regulars there were a few rare stars and stand out items, one of which being the a trio of classic search and rescue helicopters from Historic Helicopters who brought and displayed the Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King; a real coup for not only the show but the aviation scene as a whole.

With clear skies present the flying started with a Battle of Britain themed flight of three Spitfires and four Hurricanes.  Leaping from the grass runway the early dancing around the September skies above Duxford as they would have done 81 years ago.

The crowds were treated to some great display team flying from the Great War Display Team who managed to display with a full contingent of aircraft.  The replica airframes carried out their air battle re-enactment along with their trademark pyrotechnics, a great spectacle for old and young alike.

The star attraction for many had to be the sight of the trio of SAR Helicopters displaying together and singularly.  When the RAF retired the last of their Sea King Fleet in September 2018 many thought they had seen the last of their exuberant display in their splendent yellow finish, but three years down the line we get to see their magnificence once again.  Its been six years since the last Sea King Display at Duxford, and what a welcome return it was.  Each generation of aviation enthusiast will likely have a nostalgic soft spot for specific incarnations of the Search and Rescue types on display.

Air Shows at Duxford are renown for their trademark tail chases and this years Battle of Britain Show was no different and followed suit spectacularly with a great display from allied and axis fighters in the form of a pair of a P51D Mustang, TF-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt versus a triple threat of Buchon’s in various paint schemes depicting various airframes from the war.

Award for the most enthusiastic and thrilling flying display had to go to John Romain in Spitfire Mk VC who acted as ‘Joker’ whilst the finale Big Wing formed up for the shows end set piece.  The ARCO boss seemed to be having an incredible amount of fun undertaking countless airfield beat ups and topside passes along with plenty of powerful climbs to altitude before diving down to display centre.
The show culminated with several massed flypasts from a ‘Big Wing’ of Spitfires and Hurricanes, totalling fifteen individual airframes.  A relatively common sight at Duxford in recent years, however one that never gets old.  As day one came to an end it was fair to say the IWM had chalked up another successful September Air Show.  Attendance may have been a little lower than normal but that only lead to a more enjoyable day with room to move around and simply soak up the atmosphere.

At the time of this report all the Air Shows and Flying Days have come to an end at IWM Duxford.  For details of future events be sure to regularly check the IWM website as well as Social Media channels.


Review by Jonathan Wintle