the early stages of the Second World War, the Nazi War Machine
had swept through Europe carrying out Hitler’s Blitzkrieg.
By summer 1940 the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated
from the Beaches of Dunkirk and the people of the United Kingdom
prepared for the invasion of British Isles in the form of Operation
Sea Lion. All that stood between the start of this invasion
was control of the skies over the UK and the planned elimination
of the RAF. With the Luftwaffe outnumbering RAF Fighter Command’s
640 Aircraft with a force of 2,600War Ready Air Frames, approximately
a 1000 of which were Fighter Aircraft, the stage was set for
what was to become “Britain’s Finest Hour”.
the 19th and 20th September of this year the ever popular Duxford
Air Show commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of
Britain, one of the most decisive points in British, if not
the line up of classic air craft on the flight it was clear
that the visitors to the ticket only, sold out eventwere in
for a treat, with the promise that the gloriousblue skies of
Duxford would be filled with some beautiful aircraft unique
formations and highly skilled flying displays.
flying element of the show started with a simulated air field
raid by a pair of Hispano HA-1112 Buchons representing Messerschmitt
BF 109-E’s accompanied by a lone Nord 1002 representing
a Messerschmitt BF 108 owned by the Aircraft Restoration Company.
The aircraft dived in to perform a low level strafing pass whilst
the sounds of alarm bells rang out and pilots in period dress
ran for their fighters to get airborne and repel the would be
this evocative re-enactment in the flesh so to speak was quite
a poignant reminder of what these young men were up against
all those years ago. This part of the flying schedule continued
with the scramble of the Imperial War Museums mk1a Spitfire
and a Hawker Hurricane mk1 owned by the Minmere Farm Partnership
(Itself a Battle of Britain Veteran with 5 recorded ‘Kills’)
set to intercept the trio of Luftwaffe aircraft,, which played
out into some graceful flying from the pilots with a gentle
tail chase between the BF 108 and Hurricane.
the flying schedule continued we were treated to a beautiful
and rare flying display from a 3 ship formation of Hawker Hurricanes
accompanied by the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol
Blenheim MK 1F all in close formation. The Blenheim coming to
the end of its first season after a lengthy rebuild has become
an instant hit and firm favourite across the air show scene.
along the course of the show came a special tribute to the contribution
made from the 9 American Volunteer Pilots who fought in the
Battle of Britain. Two F-15e Strike Eagles flew from RAF Lakenheath
in Suffolk to pair up with two Mk 1a Spitfires to perform a
flypast along the length of the air field. A spectacular and
extremely rare site to behold, although a second pass along
the flight line at lower level in a tighter formation would
have been greater spectacle perhaps.
rare highlight not often seen on the UK air show circuit was
the entirety of the RAF’s BBMF serviceable fighters airborne
together, displaying their Spitfires Mk IIa, Mk Vb, Mk IXe and
XVIe along with both their Hurricane Mk IIc’s. The Flight
performed beautifully to the crowd giving a tight display with
some lovely top side passes.
the show edged closer to the end of the flying the display the
B-17 Preservation trust taxied their much cherished B-17G Flying
Fortress, Sally B, out to the tarmac runway preparing to display
as part of the shows ‘Counting the Cost’ element
of the flying programme, aiming to identify the human cost behind
war. ‘Sally B’ completed her display with a flypast
in usual fashion, with smoke canisters on, trailing smoke from
the wing to acknowledge all those airmen who gave the ultimate
sacrifice throughout the war.
Duxford is part of the Imperial War Museum’s fantastic
Museum collection, offering a view back in time at what was
a key airfield during the Battle of Britain.During the height
of the Battle some 60 Spitfire and Hurricanes were scrambled
and dispersed around Duxford, so it was only apt that one of
the key commemorative displays arranged by IWM Duxford was the
massed fly past and display of 17 Spitfire and Seafires in various
marks. A gaggle of Supermarine’s finest, powering through
the skies withthe Orchestral sound pumping out from the massed
group of Rolls Royce Merlin and Griffon V12 ‘Hearts’.
This display was truly awe inspiring and what I expected to
be simply a flypast from left to right soon became a twisting
and winding display over and around the skies of Duxford.
was lucky enough to be stood with Gavin Conroy of New Zealand
based ‘Classic Aircraft Photography’ throughout
the duration of the show and as we chattedthroughout the show,
we both happened to remark that it was hard to believe that
numbers greater than this would have been flying their hearts
out for survival all over the South of England during those
tough times. It was truly an awe inspiring site that left a
lump in your throat. It was apparent that the show planners
at IWM Duxford had really pulled out all the stops for this
show closed with a fantastic display of power and speed from
The Old Flying Machine Company’s Spitfire Mk IX, MH434.
With several high speed ‘beat ups’ of the air
field finished with power climbs into a crisp blue sky it
really displayed the raw power, engineering magnificence and
sheer beauty of Mr R J Mitchell’s timeless design.
Once the show had officially finished for the day it was clear
everyone present had witnessed an unbelievably great air show.
For myself personally it had been one of the best air shows
I felt I had attended. One thing was clear, the organisers
at IWM Duxfordhad commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the
Battle of Britain in style, but the question now stands; how
will they ever top this?
would like to dedicate this review to all of the pilots and
ground crew who took part in the Battle of Britain 75 years
ago so that our way of life, our freedom remained. It is important
to remember that it wasn’t just a British Victory, 20%
of those young men who climbed into their fighter aircraft
up to 4 or 5 times a day were volunteers from parts of Europe
ravaged by the war, parts of the British Common Wealth and
the United States of America. To the men who Churchill called
“The Few”, we will remember you.
by Jonathan Wintle