Archive for September, 2010

Autum Airshow Celebrating Birthday of Sally B

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

The Autumn Air Show celebrates both the 65th birthday of B-17 Fortress G-BEDF Sally B, and 75 years of the B-17 Fortress. The only B-17 currently flying in Europe, Sally B delights air show crowds with her majestic display and is a favourite with IWM Duxford visitors.She has been based at the Museum, operated by B-17 Preservation, for 35 years.

Closing the air show season for 2010, the Autumn Air Show will feature superb modern and historic aircraft, with an American theme to complement the Sally B anniversary.

The line-up of iconic US aircraft includes the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina, Grumman F8F Bearcat, Piper L4 Cub, leVier Cosmic Wind and USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle from RAF Lakenheath.

The B17’s Boeing lineage is also represented by the Stearman biplane trainer and Apache AH Mk1 from the Army Air Corps Attack Helicopter Force at Wattisham.

Aircraft from the highly productive North American stable include the F-86 Sabre jet, P-51 Mustangs, T-28s and Harvards.

For the first time in more than two decades in UK skies, four American Pitts Special biplanes will be brought together in a flypast salute to the famous Rothmans Aerobatic Team, before performing their two separate paired routines.

A special flypast is being mounted in honour of Sally B, which flies as a memorial to the 79,000 US airmen who lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War. In acknowledgement of the United States Air Force’s historic relationship with the airfields of Eastern England, she will be escorted by three P-51 Mustangs. She will then be overflown by two F-15C Eagles of the 493rd Fighter Squadron to signify the region’s ongoing contemporary relationship with the United States Air Force.

Additional flying participation includes the BAE Systems Hawk, Embraer EMB-312 Tucano, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Supermarine Spitfire, Red Hawks Fournier Duo, Hawker Sea Fury and The Black Cats, the Royal Navy’s Lynx helicopter display team.

RAF Duxford was handed over to the United States 8th Air Force in April 1943, becoming Base 357, the headquarters of the 78th Fighter Group. The Group flew P-47 Thunderbolts and, from December 1944, P-51 Mustangs. It provided fighter escort to the large US bomber raids against occupied Europe and Germany itself.

B-17 Fortresses were flown by the 91st Bombardment Group from nearby RAF Bassingbourn from 14 October 1942 through to June 1945. The Group operated primarily as a strategic bombardment organisation during the Second World War.

On the ground, living history groups recreate the role of the B-17 Bomber crew. There will be activities for all ages, including childrens rides, tank rides and demonstrations. The Parachute Regiment will be offering aerial bungee jumps from its jump tower, alongside performances from the Parachute Regiment band and guest appearance from the Parachute Regiment mascot.

The relaxed atmosphere at the Autumn Air Show is equally appreciated by pilots and crowds and makes for a perfect Sunday outing.

Tickets for all events can be purchased online at or by calling the box office on 01223 499 353.

All flying is subject to weather, serviceability and operational commitments.

Many Commemorate the Few at RAF Museum london

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Over 6,000 happy visitors flocked to the Royal Air Force Museum to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in a special weekend of activities and events.

The visitor numbers reached 6,330 over Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September as the Museum celebrated its Battle of Britain Anniversary Weekend. As well as the exciting aircraft exhibits, visitors enjoyed live action Scramble displays, living history tableaux, period re-enactors, vintage bus rides, ‘make your own Spitfire’ activities, special film shows, debates and talks, marching band performances, farm yard animals, a model show and more.

The highlight of the weekend was a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire which circuited above the Museum on Sunday afternoon. The display left the thousands of gathered visitors breathless and emotional.

Councillor Lisa Rutter, Deputy Mayor of Barnet was present on Sunday and after watching some outdoor displays, she enjoyed a tour of the Museum and also judged the best 1940’s child, fancy dress competition. Says Councillor Rutter:

“I believe the RAF Museum is a great asset in the Borough of Barnet and this is something which I believe should be maintained and treasured as it provides the stimulus for young people to understand the history of the Battle of Britain.”

Museum Director General Peter Dye:

“The Museum is committed to working for and within the local community and the Battle of Britain Weekend is our way of strengthening this relationship. We are proud to share the success of the weekend with all our visitors.”

The end of Summer theme weekends have taken their place as an eagerly anticipated annual event for the local community. Work has already begun on next year’s event which promises to be bigger and better.

The Battle of Britain Anniversary continues at the Museum with a special concert at 1439 on Saturday 18th September by the Hendon Chapter of the Salvation Army Band.

Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary & Allied Air Forces Day

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

This year’s Annual Allied Air Forces Day held here at the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial, Elvington, on Sunday 5th September was once again the largest event of its type in the North, and this year marked the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Over 450 veterans, ex service personnel and serving members of the RAF took part in the Parade and Commemoration Service, followed by the March Past, Salute and Sunset Ceremony.

The Head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton KCB ADC BSc FRAeS CCMI RAF, Chief of the Air Staff, took the Salute and he was attending in his capacity as Vice President of the Allied Air Forces Memorial. HM The Queen was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of East Yorkshire, the Hon. Mrs. Susan Cunliffe-Lister.

The poignant Service, led by YAM Chaplain the Revd. Taff Morgan MBE BA BSc RAF Rtd. reflected the fact that Winston Churchill’s famous speech, in which he stated that ” ..never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few” is actually directed at all British and Allied aircrews, not just those in Fighter Command, to whom the words have largely been attributed. Churchill’s speech actually pointed out that it was the bomber crews, undertaking their deadly missions to fly into heavily defended occupied lands to destroy enemy airfields and factories, that bore the brunt of the burden on the air force and would go on to “.. play an invaluable part in the case of invasion.”

With the loss of 998 aircrew RAF Bomber Command and Coastal Command lost more air crew during the period of the Battle of Britain, than the 544 pilots of Fighter Command, a fact very rarely reflected in articles about this epic battle of the skies.

Fittingly therefore, one of the veterans participating in the Parade was 89 years ‘young’ Ron “Bram” Bramley, who flew dangerous missions with 22 Squadron Coastal Command during the Battle of Britain in October 1940. He counts himself as one of the ‘Forgotten Few’ who seldom get the recognition they deserve. One of the few remaining Members of the Turret Committee, Ron attended as part of the Nottingham & Derby Air Crew Association contingent.

The Parade was made up of members of many regional Royal Air Force Associations, Royal British Legion Branches, Royal Observer Corps Association and other forces associations and also included a large contingent of serving personnel from 609 (West Riding) Squadron RAuxAF from RAF Leeming. This Squadron was first formed in 1936 in Yeadon (now Leeds / Bradford Airport), initially as a Bomber Squadron, but then designated to Fighter Command and one of the first Squadrons to be equipped with the new Spitfire Mk1a, went on to play a significant part in the Battle of Britain, claiming 85 ‘kills’ and going on to be the first Squadron to reach 100 victories – quite some going for what was initially a civilian Squadron. The Museum houses the fascinating 609 Squadron Memorial Room.

The Parade was led in style led by the Massed Bands of the Northern and Eastern Region Air Training Corps, and, unusually, a contingent of 9 members of the East Yorkshire RBL Riders Group on motorcycles taking part, with Standard. In all, 28 Standards were presented. The occasion culminated with a truly spectacular flypast by a Spitfire Mk 9 from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, swirling around magnificently in the sunny skies on the day, bringing an end to another wonderful day at Elvington.

German Bomber Located on Goodwin Sands

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

A rare German wartime bomber has been discovered on the Goodwin Sands, seventy years after it was shot down during the height of the Battle of Britain. With a crew of four and loaded with 2000lb of bombs, the aircraft, a twin-engined Dornier 17 – known universally as ‘The Flying Pencil ‘- was part of a large enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft at midday on 26 August 1940 as they attempted to attack airfields in Essex.
Boulton Paul Defiant fighters attacked the Dorniers at 13,000 ft over Deal in Kent before they had reached their intended target. They claimed at least six Dorniers destroyed and one damaged for the loss of three of their own aircraft and two air gunners killed.

 One of the Dorniers, flown by Feldwebel (Flt Sgt) Willi Effmert, attempted a wheels-up landing on the Goodwin Sands. He touched down safely and the aircraft sank inverted. Effmert and his observer were captured but the other crewmen died and their bodies were washed ashore later.

The aircraft is in remarkable condition – considering the events surrounding its loss plus the effects of spending so many years under water. Other than marine concretion it is largely intact, the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during their final landing.

Since the Dornier emerged from the sands two years ago, the RAF Museum has worked with Wessex Archaeology to complete a full survey of the wreck site in preparation for the aircraft’s recovery and eventual exhibition at Hendon where it will form a centre-piece in the recently-announced Battle of Britain Beacon project.

Work to conserve and prepare the Dornier for display will be undertaken at the RAF Museum’s award-winning conservation centre at Cosford. Here the Dornier will be placed alongside the Museum’s Vickers Wellington which is currently undergoing long term restoration.

Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, Director General of the RAF Museum said that “The discovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance. The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from The Battle of Britain. It is particularly significant because, as a bomber, it formed the heart of the Luftwaffe assault and the subsequent Blitz.”

The RAF Museum, with the support of English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence, is now developing a recovery plan to protect the aircraft from any further damage and to provide for its long term preservation. There is concern, however, that material has recently been removed illegally from the wreck site – although a number of items have now been retrieved.

Air Vice-Marshal Dye stated that “The Dornier will provide an evocative and moving exhibit that will allow the Museum to present the wider story of the Battle of Britain and highlight the sacrifices made by the young men of both air forces and from many nations.”

More information about the recovery plan, together with film of the aircraft, will be available at the RAF Museum’s Battle of Britain weekend to be held at Hendon on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September 2010.