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Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow 2010

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Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few, These famous words by the wartime Prime minister Winston Churchill, should never be forgotten. When it comes to an airshow to commemorate the Battle of Britain, who could think of a better place?? Duxford played a huge part in the Battle and with its excellent museum, with so much history, it was a great backdrop for this years celebration. During the conflict, Duxford was home to many squadrons, but 19 squadron was the only one to be based there for the whole of the battle, It was also the first to operate the spitfire.

 

I attended the airshow on the Sunday. The weather was its normal self, giving the famous background at Duxford, a cloudy look. There was a crosswind which was proving to be a bit of a pain. For photography, Duxford always presents tricky conditions, often resulting in silhouettes. I was glad to find out that the spitfires would close the show, this meant that the sun would be in a better position for pictures.

Classic wings were running their pleasure flights as normal. They seemed to be very busy, running 2 DH Dragon Rapides, 3 Tiger moths and a Harvard. It was great to see the pilots skillfully landing on the right-hand wheel time and time again due to the crosswind. During the lead up to the show, there were lots of things to see on the ground.

Firstly the flight line walk. This allows the public to get a bit closer to the displaying aircraft. Looking down the line, who could fail to be impressed by the aircraft amassed? P-51’s, 2 Gladiators, 4 Hurricanes, 2 Hispano Buchons, 2 Harvard’s Catalina, B-17 Sally B, and of course, no fewer than 16 spitfires!! Another great part of Duxford celebrations were the re-enactments scattered around the airfield. This brought a real 1940’s battle feel to the show.

Another great exhibit was happening in the airspace hanger. Flightsim 2010 was a gathering of some of the top names in flight simulation circles. They brought with them a number of different setups, which allowed the public to get hands on with some of the flight sims. Also on the live side of the airfield were numerous aero engine displays, giving an insight to the engines which powered a majority of the aircraft which fought throughout the war.

The airshow was due to begin at 2pm, but due to unforeseen circumstances, The Red Arrows (due to open the show) Were a whole 4 minutes late!!! They arrived from crowd rear in the famous arrow formation. During their display, The Reds paid their own tribute to the ‘Few’, by performing the Spitfire manouvre. This sees them formate into a spitfire shape and after passing by they then fly the Spitfire roll. For me the ‘Detonator’ has always been my firm favourite, and this also signals the 2nd part of the show. This half consists of several passes by the syncro pair, where the crossover each other very close.

Next up was the B-17 Flying fortress. This year sees the 35th anniversary of the arrival of this iconic flying memorial. ‘Sally B’ performed with the normal high quality seen for many years and finished off with a great pass with 2 smoking engines. Following on were a pair of P-51’s from OFMC and the Fighter Collection, who chased each other across the Duxford skies.

This then gave way for a speedy entrance by Stephen Grey in the Bearcat. He really put the Bearcat through its paces, showing just fast an aircraft the Bearcat is. Another of TFC’s Most powerful aircraft followed in the shape of the Hawker Sea Fury. This one is a T20 trainer version having 2 seats fitted. Again the aircraft performed at high speeds just as the Bearcat, showing why both aircraft are so popular for unlimited air racing in the states.

From the right came the Belgian F-16 display. The entrance was, wheels down smoke on. This followed a series of well executed rolls and climbs all performed pretty much inside Duxfords perimeter, Very impressive from such a powerful and fast jet fighter. Pilot 'Mitch' Beulen’s display was truly amazing and gave a real look at just how agile the F-16 is.

To follow was a great airshow act, The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight, As the Reds had, the BBMF entered from Crowd rear in battle formation. The only way to sum up the BBMF is ‘The best of British‘! They performed their usual display routine with the fighters splitting from the Lanc, for a pairs act. Later they reform onto the Bomber, before leaving.

The next duo act brought back a nostalgic feel to the show. A pairing of De Havilland Hornet and leopard moth. These 2 wonderful aircraft swept gracefully across the sky before landing to make way for the ’hun’. Enter the Hispano Buchon. This year has seen this aircraft returned to its original Battle Of Britain Film colours. As the Buchon exited the crowd were treated to the first of the Battle Of Britain formations.

From the left, 4 Hawker Hurricanes flew across Duxford in formation. They completed their formation passes and this followed a tail chase. Re-enter the Buchon. What a great sight. At first I thought the Buchons own display had been to brief, but it tagged on to the end of the four Hurricanes to give chase. As two of the Hurricanes landed followed by the Buchon, this left the ‘Hurribomber’ of Hanger 11, with centre stage. A tremendous display by owner Peter Teichman.

To follow on with the Battle Of Britain theme, the Gladiator of the shuttle worth collection was next. Also used by the RAF in the battle, it was great to see her display. The Gladiator was the RAF’s first ever enclosed cockpit fighter. As The Shuttleworths Gladiator departed for home a Harvard duo consisting of TFC’s aircraft and one from ARCO. The pair were flown by Anna Walker and John Dodd. They performed an great formation display, before making way for the huge and lumbering Catalina.

The Catalina looked stunning against the blue skies that had now decided to come out. It always seems to take an age to turn the Catalina around, but always puts on a great display. The display consisted of the usual passes, with the floats being lowered to show of its sea born capabilities. A quick fly-by then from the Kennet aviation Westland wasp helicopter, signaled the start of the RAF’s Tucano Display. Another Cracker from Tom Bould the Tucano Display pilot.

The Millers owned Dragon Rapide then brought about a 30’s art deco style to show. This aircraft is stunning and is a credit to the chaps and the 27 years it took to restore it. I thoroughly enjoyed its display. The Yak 50’s of the Aerostars were next and it was great to see their master class in formation flying. The aircraft looked absolutely splendid against the deep blue sky. My favourite manouvre from them had to be the bomb burst!
With the show nearing its end, four hawks, led by the new T2 arrived to play their part in the Battle Of Britain tribute. All four were from 19 squadron which saw action during the battle. After they had flown past the sound of 16 spitfires (and 1 seafire) Then filled Duxford. This was a noise that must have filled Duxfords confines on a daily basis. As they taxied out to the runway , a feeling of deep emotion was building. On take off, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and the sounds of the merlins (and griffon) reverberated right through my body. I think everyone in the crowd Knew that something special was coming. As the Spitfires went off to formate up, Anna walker and Mark Rijske gave a great performance in a Bucker Jungmann, Jungmeister display.

The Hawks returned to perform this missing man formation flypast, to a 1 minute silence. As they departed, The air was filled with spitfires. The formation was made up of 4 waves of four ship formations. After a few passes the formations split into 2 groups and commenced tail chases, A truly awesome sight. The spitfires then landed leaving OFMC’s Spitfire MH434 to close the show with an evocative solo display, Finishing with a victory barrel roll. Where else in the world could pull of a display like this?? A big thumbs up goes out to the Duxford staff for making a very memorable show. I look forward to the Autumn airshow in October….
Review by Ken Brannen and Neil Darby - click HERE for Neil's Showcase