Archive for May, 2013

70th anniversary commemorative flypast from IWM Duxford

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Today, Monday 27 May, the Eagle Squadron, with B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and P-51 Mustang Miss Velma, carried out a commemorative flypast of American Second World War airfields to honour the American airmen who died whilst fighting for their country from British soil.

The Eagle Squadron’s historic Hawker Hurricane X, Supermarine Spitfire Mark I, Republic P-47G Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang Princess Elizabeth flew alongside B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B in a poignant commemoration of the legendary fighter and bomber aircraft flown by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in England.

B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B was the first aircraft to take off from IWM Duxford, followed by two-seater P-51 Mustang Miss Velma, carrying a very special passenger, United States Army Air Forces veteran Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson.

The Eagle Squadron then took off and moved into formation with B-17 Sally B and P-51 Mustang Miss Velma.

This year, IWM Duxford commemorates the 70th anniversary of the United States Army Air Forces arriving at RAF Duxford. From its arrival at RAF Duxford in April 1943, the 78th Fighter Group flew P-47 Thunderbolts on bomber escort duty, switching to P-51 Mustangs in December 1944.

From IWM Duxford, the Eagle Squadron formation’s first destination was Bassingbourn Barracks, which was home to the USAAF 91st Bomb Group from August 1942 to June 1945. The 91st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses, the most famous of which was the Memphis Belle.

On leaving Bassingbourn, the Eagle Squadron flew over Cambridge American Cemetery at Madingley, where a memorial ceremony was being held.

The formation then continued to RAF Mildenhall, home to the modern-day United States Air Force in Europe, and from there to Bodney airfield, which was home to the 352nd Fighter Group from May 1943 until V E Day.

From Bodney, the aircraft continued to RAF Snetterton Heath, which was used by the 8th Air Force 96th Bombardment Group from June 1943 until its deactivation in December 1945.

Then onwards to RAF Knettishall, which was built for the 8th Air Force during 1942-1943 with a specification to accommodate heavy bombers. It was home to the 388th Bombardment Group from June 1943 until V E Day.

The next destination was RAF Horham, which was handed over to the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 3rd Bomb Division in 1942. Horham was mostly home to the 95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) which flew B-17 Flying Fortresses in bombing campaigns until V E Day.

From Horham, the Eagle Squadron overflew RAF Thorpe Abbots, which was originally built as a satellite station to RAF Horham.

The 100th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force arrived at Thorpe Abbots in June 1943. The Group earned the nickname The Bloody Hundredth due to heavy losses incurred during eight missions to Germany. A dozen or more aircraft were lost on a single mission.

The 100th Bombardment Group flew its last mission on 10 April 1945; its 306th combat mission.

The commemorative flight then continued to RAF Halesworth, which was home to the 56th Fighter Group, flying P-47 Thunderbolts, and then to the 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy), flying B-24 Liberators.

From Halesworth, the Eagle Squadron made its way to RAF Leiston. This was an emotive experience for veteran Bud Anderson, as he flew his P-51 Mustang Old Crow with the 357th Fighter Group from this airfield. At this point, P-51 Mustang Miss Velma, carrying Bud Anderson, peeled away from the formation for a reminiscent return to RAF Leiston.

The Eagle Squadron’s final destination before returning to IWM Duxford was RAF Debden. This airfield was home to RAF Eagle Squadrons which were later formed into the 4th Fighter Group when the USAAF took over the airfield.

It was a poignant and historic commemoration to the American airmen who lost their lives fighting for freedom from British shores.

Air Tattoo is Full of Eastern Promise

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Eastern European airpower will take centre stage in the Cotswolds this summer when two of the world’s most potent fighter aircraft take to the skies for one of the UK’s biggest outdoor events – the Royal International Air Tattoo. 

Airshow organisers have just added a legendary Mikoyan MiG-29, from the Polish Air Force, and a SAAB JAS-39 Gripen from the Hungarian Air Force to the seven-and-a-half hour flying display programme, which takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21.

The Russian-built MiG-29 is a giant among modern-day combat jets, combining supreme power and agility with remarkable versatility. Developed in the mid-1970s, in response to a rapid stream of highly-capable new fighters emerging from the US and Europe, the MiG-29 made its first flight in 1977 and joined the then Soviet Air Force six years later. It has since been acquired by many other nations, several of them in Eastern Europe including Poland.

The MiG-29 can fly at approximately Mach 2.25, or almost 1,500 miles per hour, and it can operate at an altitude of over 59,000ft. The delta-winged JAS-39 Gripen is one of the world’s most advanced fighters having been designed to replace the SAAB 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force.

Both aircraft will line up against other fighters such as the Typhoon, Tornado and F-16 in the flying display which also features a wide range of large transporters, helicopters, historic warbirds such as the Vulcan and aerobatic display teams including the RAF Red Arrows.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: “The Air Tattoo’s reputation has been built on attracting exciting aircraft from former Soviet Bloc countries. These countries, many of which are now our NATO allies,remain among the most eagerly anticipated and popular participants at our airshow.”

In July, the Air Tattoo will unveil a package of initiatives designed to make the visitor experience even more enjoyable. These include new Service Stations, featuring food courts, free wi-fi hubs, information booths, merchandise outlets, street entertainment, seating and a shaded area providing cover. There will also be three new exciting themed areas called the Adrenalin Zone, Techno Zone and the Vintage Village.

The Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21. For a full list of all the visitor opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit or call 0800 107 1940.All under-16s go free. Free parking.

Experience the Spring Air Show in American style

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

We’re now only days away from the Spring Air Show (Sunday 26 May), where we’ll be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the American air forces arriving at RAF Duxford in the Second World War.

Commencing at 2pm, the flying programme presents a wide range of historic American aircraft, including the first-ever display by the Eagle Squadron, which will open the flying display.

We’ve just had confirmation that the Eagle Squadron will also fly in formation with the Red Arrows, giving a spectacular finale to the Spring Air Show. This momentous occasion is a break in tradition for the Red Arrows and honours the historic Anglo-American relationship that has endured at IWM Duxford since the latter stages of the First World War.

The magnificent sight of the Eagle Squadron’s historic Hawker Hurricane X , Supermarine Spitfire Mk I, Republic P-47G Thunderbolt and North American P-51C Mustang Princess Elizabeth alongside the modern Hawk jet aircraft of the Red Arrows will be a unique air show moment never to be forgotten!

There’s plenty of American atmosphere to soak up too as you explore the museum during the morning of the Spring Air Show.

There will be cheerleading displays throughout the morning on the hangar base in front of Wing Co Joe’s Café.

Andrews Sisters-style singing group The Three Belles will perform nostalgic 1940s songs on the hangar base at 11am and 12.15pm.

Colonel Richard Graham makes a welcome return to IWM Duxford, hosting his popular talks around the SR-71 Blackbird in the American Air Museum. His talks will take place at 10.30am and noon. Colonel Graham will also be signing copies of his new book SR-71: The Complete Illustrated History of the Blackbird.

Also in the American Air Museum will be a display from Madingley American Cemetery, Britain’s only Second World War American cemetery. Find out more about the American servicemen who lost their lives fighting on British shores.

Second World War United States Army Air Forces veteran Bud Anderson will be signing books and chatting to visitors in the Tower Shop between 11am and noon.

The Rangers Re-enactments living history group portrays the 2nd Ranger Battalion with the uniforms and equipment that they would have used on Omaha Beach on D-Day. They will have an evocative living history display next to the Control Tower.

Last, but not least, the stunning photographic exhibition Somewhere in England: Portraits of the Americans in Britain 1942 to 1945 can be seen in the Mezzanine gallery in AirSpace.

These striking images, many of which have not been seen by the public before, show the range and diversity of the roles undertaken by the men of the United States Army Air Forces and the women of the Women’s Army Corps and the Red Cross – it wasn’t just pilots and ground crew that kept the aircraft flying.

We tell the individual stories of these men and women, their wartime experiences in Great Britain and how their own personal war ended.

The photographs also capture rare off-duty moments and show how the American airmen became part of the community in which they were based.

In addition to the American atmosphere that can be enjoyed across the museum, there will also be children’s rides, the opportunity to explore retro 1950s and 1960s commercial airliners in true Pan Am style, tank riding and lots of enticing shopping opportunities.

Join us this Sunday for the Spring Air Show as we remember the time when the Stars and Stripes flew at RAF Duxford.

Flying display honours National Service Veterans

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

2nd June 2013

Lancaster display 1:00pm (weather permitting)

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster will be taking to the skies over Shropshire in honour of the thousands of National Service RAF veterans. This iconic aircraft will perform for visitors and guests at the National Service (RAF) Association parade, taking place at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford on Sunday 2nd June.

Starting at 11:00am, this event is expected to see hundreds of ex National Service men and women participate in the parade, led by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Following a short 100m march the parade will form up next to the Museum’s Hangar 1 where Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton will be the reviewing officer, accompanied by Group Captain Sansom, Station Commander at RAF Cosford. All veterans who served in the Armed Forces are welcome to participate, providing them with the opportunity to reunite with lost friends and colleagues.

Following the parade, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, will be officially presenting Arctic Star medals and the Bomber Command Clasp to eligible veterans. These prestigious accolades are awarded to members of the British Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy who were involved in action in the Arctic Circle or Bomber Command during World War II. Both awards are retrospective, coming almost seventy years after the end of the war. Veterans from all three services who have been awarded either honour are invited to put their names forward in order to have their medals officially presented to them on the day by the Chief of the Air Staff.

Around 600 veterans are anticipated to take part and hundreds more visitors are expected to turn out to watch. Following the ceremony, visitors and guests will be treated to a flying display from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster scheduled for 1.00pm (weather permitting). Plus, National Veterans Organisations and training camp associations will be represented in Hangar 1. On completion of the formal events, guests will have access to the RAF Museum site where they can catch up with old friends and view the exhibits.

The Museum gates will open at 9am on Sunday 2nd June, although the Museum itself will open at 10am. Entry to the Museum and participation in the parade is FREE. Any veterans wishing to put their names forward for the presentation should contact the event organiser Pat Honey on 01782 516887.

For further information, please call the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford on 01902 376200 or visit the museum website at

Fun Fair and Festivities Inspire Family Fun at RAF Cosford

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

This year RAF Cosford celebrates its 75th Anniversary and the annual Air Show aims to provide one of the greatest family orientated summer days out in the West Midlands with non-stop entertainment for all ages, with opportunities to enjoy everything from a fun fair to unique ground displays this Sunday 9th June.

The Air Show organisers, who in 2013 are in their second year of arranging the event, are building on that reputation by providing some excellent opportunities to make what already promises to be a great day out even better!

Children under 16’s enter the event for FREE when accompanied by an adult and, for the first year ever, there will be exclusive family meal deals at a number of catering outlets spread out over the site. Consisting of two adult meals and two children’s meals, including food and hot or cold drinks, the meal deal outlets will be well signposted to ensure that you can make the most of these special offers. Individual children’s meals, including food and a drink, will also be on offer from as little as £5.

This year’s event boasts one of the best flying displays that RAF Cosford has ever welcomed to the Air Show and this is supplemented on the ground by a wide array of static aircraft displays. These include a number of open-cockpit displays so little ones and adults alike can have the opportunity to sit in a jet once capable of flying faster than 1,000mph! Ground displays will also involve a host of competitions and games for children to enjoy including a penalty shootout and the chance to make your own model aircraft.

The airfield will also accommodate a fun fair that promises to get your blood pumping, with rides on offer including all your favourites from dodgems and galloper horses to tea cup rides and a wide selection of stalls and games.

For those in need of some retail therapy, a craft fair will be available in one of the hangars for you to check out a huge choice of both local and national hand-made products. There are also many exhibitors and stalls outside on the show ground itself selling everything from aircraft models and clothing to experience days out and perfumes. The RAF Air Cadets will also have a large exhibition, including a climbing wall as part of their own interactive displays, with various Air Cadet Squadrons on hand to have a chat about the opportunities available to you and your little ones.

The popular arena demonstrations will return for 2013, this year sponsored by Free Radio. ‘The Free Radio Arena’ will play host to some exciting spectacles such as a Field Gun Run and performances from the Royal Air Force College Band. You may even get the opportunity to meet and get a photo with Free Radio’s own HumFree the Hamster too!

Air Show spokesman Flying Officer Sam Jewell says “A vast majority of our visitors are those looking for a wonderful family day out and so we put great deal of effort into making sure that we cater to all ages and interests with our activities on the ground. This year we’ve managed to organise so much entertainment around the airfield that, coupled with a flying display lasting over 6½ hours, will provide a truly thrilling experience.”

Over those 6½ hours, the whole family will have the opportunity to marvel at some phenomenal flying displays. With over 25 on offer, don’t miss your chance to witness the spectacular RAF Red Arrows, Vulcan XH558, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and many more!

All profits made from the RAF Cosford Air Show are donated to service and local charities.

For more information or to book tickets visit or call 24-hour ticket line on 0871 230 1083 (10p/min).

Visitors looking to make the most of their day at RAF Cosford and reduce any possible travel delays are encouraged to exploit a special Air Show train timetable which provides extra services throughout the day. For those further afield, see our website for coach companies operating excursions near you

Bloodhound Missile Acquisition

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

After several failed attempts the Newark Air Museum has finally been able to secure a long-term acquisition target in the shape of a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile.

This recently acquired missile was transported to the museum’s site on the former RAF Winthorpe airfield in Nottinghamshire; close to the border with Lincolnshire on Tuesday 21st May, 2013.

After refurbishment the Bloodhound missile will be displayed alongside the museum’s Type 86 Radar Cabin, which recently underwent an external repaint. This is a complete cabin that was acquired several years ago from the Royal Radar and Signals Establishment and is believed to have carried the codename ‘Indigo Corkscrew’.

The museum also displays a Thunderbird surface-to-air missile, which was acquired several years ago.

Some key items are missing from the new acquisition and the museum is hopeful of sourcing these items in the coming months.

Chinook to Showcase New Manoeuvres at Wings & Wheels

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Not seen at the airshow since 2008, Wings & Wheels is delighted to confirm the Chinook helicopter will be gracing the skies above Dunsfold Aerodrome once again on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August.

The Chinook, now synonymous with combat operations in Afghanistan, will have its power and manoeuvrability demonstrated by members of the display team which is made up of personnel from 18 and 27 Squadrons from RAF Odiham.

The captain for 2013 is Flight Lieutenant Paul Farmer. As his second season as the Display Pilot it has given the team a chance to introduce some new impressive manoeuvres that have never been included in the Chinook Display before. This year’s Co-Pilot is Flight Lieutenant Gareth Allen, the Display Manager Flight Lieutenant Kyle Thomas and the Rear Crew are Sergeants Andy Caldwell and Steve Jones.

Jamie McAllister, Event Director comments: “The skill with which the Chinook is displayed is not to be missed. The giant aircraft is surprisingly agile and versatile and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch in action. We are so pleased to have the team back and added to the phenomenal 2013 Wings & Wheels line-up.”

Visitors to Wings & Wheels can also enjoy the world famous Red Arrows, Wildcat Helicopter, Typhoon, Vulcan, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Team Breitling Wingwalkers and a host of other modern and historic aircraft during the 5 hour flying displays. For four and two wheeled fans, supercars and classic and vintage icons put on an awe inspiring display of power and speed on the Top Gear track in a 2 hour auto spectacular from Brooklands Museum.

The 9th annual Wings & Wheels will be held over the August Bank holiday weekend; Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th August 2013, at Dunsfold Park near Guildford, Surrey, and is open to spectators from 09:00 until 18:00.

Tickets start from £20 for adults, £45 for a family (2 adults and 3 children aged 5 – 15yrs), £6 for children aged between 5 and 15yrs and under 5s are free. Hospitality packages start from £65 per person, weekend passes, grandstand tickets and camping are also available. For more information visit or to book standard tickets call 08712 305 572.

Wings & Wheels is promoted by Dunsfold Park Limited with proceeds going to nominated charities: Brooklands Museum Trust and Help for Heroes.

The Eagle Squadron has landed for the Spring Air Show

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

The Spring Air Show (Sunday 26 May) commences its flying programme in superb style with the first-ever display of the Eagle Squadron, a historic four-ship comprising a Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang.

P-51C Mustang Princess Elizabeth was shipped over from the USA specifically for the Spring Air Show.
The Hurricane and Spitfire have received new paint schemes especially for this display.

The Eagle Squadron will fly in four-ship formation, as pairs and also in an evocative display alongside  B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B.

The four aircraft comprising the Eagle Squadron represent the history of American pilots serving in Europe during the Second World War. Spitfires and Hurricanes were flown by American volunteers in the  Royal Air Force prior to the United States officially entering the war. Soon, these American recruits were  formed into their own squadrons within the RAF, known as Eagle Squadrons. The display is named in their  honour, with the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang representing the massive effort by the United  States Army Air Forces during the latter half of the conflict.

The aircraft will be piloted by Dan Friedkin, Ed Shipley, Steve Hinton and Paul Bonhomme. Americans  Dan, Ed and Steve are best known as the Bremont Horsemen Flight Team and have performed  spectacular P-51 Mustang displays at the Flying Legends Air Show and at events around the globe. Paul  Bonhomme is a Red Bull Air Race pilot and has displayed historic aircraft at over 700 air shows to date.

Eagle Squadron lead Dan Friedkin has worked closely with aviation photographer and historian John  Dibbs to develop and manage the concept. Dan said “It is a great honour to present the Eagle Squadron,  a vivid aerial tribute to the 70th anniversary of American involvement in the Second World War. We look  forward to debuting this tribute, flying in the vintage fighters which once soared over Europe, in memory  of the brave aces who piloted them and the greater Anglo-American air power alliance.”

The Spring Air Show takes place on the 70th anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visiting  RAF Duxford to welcome the 78th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces to Great Britain.  From its arrival at RAF Duxford in April 1943, the 78th Fighter Group flew P-47 Thunderbolts on bomber  escort duty, switching to P-51 Mustangs in December 1944.

Richard Ashton, Director of IWM Duxford, said “I’m thrilled that the Eagle Squadron will be presenting its  debut flying display as the centrepiece of our flying programme at the Spring Air Show. The Eagle  Squadron represents, in one flying display, Duxford’s Second World War American air force history, from  the Eagle Squadron volunteers flying Spitfires and Hurricanes with the RAF, to the 78th Fighter Group  flying Thunderbolts and Mustangs.”

Each Eagle Squadron aircraft features the paint scheme and markings of American pilots whose inspiring  wartime stories stand the test of time.

Hawker Hurricane AE977 G-CGTK has been painted as P3886 for the show, with coding UF-K,  representing a Hurricane of No.601 (County of London) Squadron. P3886 was flown by Americans  William M L Fiske III and Carl R Davis.

Billy Fiske – No.601 (County of London Squadron), Royal Auxiliary Air Force – was one of only 11  American pilots flying in the Battle of Britain. Flying Hurricanes from Tangmere, he was credited as a  natural fighter pilot and was popular amongst his peers. His wartime career ended when a German  gunner put a bullet through his reserve fuel tank. His engine cut out immediately, but knowing that his  Hurricane was essential to the war effort, he elected to nurse the aircraft back to Tangmere rather than  bail out and save himself.

Billy made it back to Tangmere, skimming over the hedge in the midst of an enemy bombing raid on the  airfield. He landed safely, but moments later his aircraft exploded, trapping him inside. He was rescued  from the burning cockpit, suffering severe burns to his hands and face. Later that night in hospital, he  was reported to be in great spirits, but only 48 hours later, he died from shock resulting from his severe  injuries.

Billy was buried close to Tangmere, with his tombstone bearing the epitaph ‘He died for England’. The  following year, the British government unveiled a plaque to his memory in the crypt of St Paul’s  Cathedral, enscribed ‘An American citizen who died that England might live.’ Only 29 years old, Billy Fiske  was the first American to die in service with the RAF during the Second World War.

Carl Davis – No.601 (County of London) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force – had his first taste of  combat on 28 November 1939, flying a Blenheim during the successful Borkum Raid, which attacked the  Luftwaffe seaplane base on the Frisian Islands. Five seaplanes were destroyed during the surprise attack  with no damage to the Blenheim squadron.

In March 1940, the squadron received its first Hawker Hurricanes. On 11 July 1940, Carl Davis made his  first combat kill, shooting down a Bf 110. Having joined the RAF much earlier than most American  volunteers, Carl’s experience served him well during the Battle of Britain. His final tally of nine-and-a-half  aerial victories made him a Double Ace and equaled those claimed together by the other ten Americans  who saw combat during the Battle of Britain. In August 1940, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying  Cross.

On 6 September 1940, 601 Squadron were sent out on a final scramble before taking some  much-needed leave. Carl had flown missions consistently for 12 weeks. That morning, the squadron was  taken by surprise by a large formation of Bf 109s over Kent. Carl’s aircraft was one of four Hurricanes  destroyed in the attack. His aircraft broke in two as it plummeted towards the ground. He crashed,  inverted, into a back garden in the village of Matfield.

The police officer who first arrived at the scene discovered Carl strapped into his burnt and broken  aircraft with his feet still on the rudder bars. Carl Davis, like Billy Fiske, was only 29 years old.

Supermarine Spitfire MkIa AR213 G-AIST was one of the last Mark I Spitfires constructed. For the  Eagle Squadron display, it is painted in the markings of Pilot Officer William R Dunn of No.71 (Eagle)  Squadron, RAF Voluntary Reserve.

Bill Dunn grew up on the plains of Minnesota. He was determined to fly but ended up in the infantry  twice – first in the USA and secondly in Canada. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Royal  Canadian Air Force was not accepting American pilots, so he joined the Canadian Army instead and was  sent to fight in England. Luckily for Bill Dunn, the Air Ministry soon sent out a notification to all  Commonwealth armed forces asking for any personnel with adequate flying experience to sign up for the

RAF. The stated flying experience was 500 hours. Bill only had 160 hours, but, according to his memoirs,  his ‘pencil slipped on the application form’ and he was officially accepted into the RAF in December 1940.

Training on type usually lasted six weeks but after a mere four days, Bill was sent to the newly-formed  No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron. He was assigned Hurricane XR-D and sent straight into combat. His first  dogfight left him terrified, but he claimed his first kill in July 1941, becoming the first Eagle Squadron pilot  to shoot down an enemy aircraft.

The squadron began receiving Spitfire Mk Ias in late July 1941. Having shot down four enemy aircraft to  date, Bill Dunn gained Ace status on 27 August, shooting down a further two Bf 109s whilst providing  cover to Blenheims attacking steel factories at Lille. During the flight, Bill and his aircraft were badly  damaged by a Bf 109. Bullets ripped through Bill’s legs and glanced off his skull. 20mm cannon fire  destroyed his instrument panel and blew the toes off his right foot.

Bill’s victories made him the first Eagle Squadron Ace and the first American Ace of the Second World  War. However, the terrible injuries he sustained left him hospitalised for several months. Doctors saved  his foot and he was granted leave in the United States, followed by a peaceful posting as an instructor in  Canada.

Bill returned to his Eagle Squadron only to pick up his kit before heading home. In 1943, he received  orders to join the United States Army Air Forces. By March 1944, he was back in England, flying  P-47 Thunderbolts with the 406th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force. He remained with the United States  Air Force, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel. He passed away in 1995.

Republic P-47G Thunderbolt G-CDVX, built under license by Curtiss, is one of only two airworthy  Razorback Thunderbolts in the world. It is painted to represent SNAFU, the aircraft flown by  1st Lieutenant Severino B Calderon of the 84th Fighter Squadron, part of the 78th Fighter Group based at  RAF Duxford.

Severino B Calderon enlisted in February 1943 at the age of 22. He became SNAFU’s regular pilot and,  surviving the war, remained in the United States Army Air Force, transferring to the 56th Fighter Group.  Tragically, he was killed in a P-51 Mustang crash in August 1946 at the age of 25.

By the end of the Second World War, the 78th Fighter Group had claimed a total of 688 enemy aircraft  destroyed. 50 pilots were credited with over half of those victories. They received two Distinguished Unit  Citations for ground attack successes.

P-51C Mustang Princess Elizabeth N487FS was shipped over from the USA specifically to take part in  the Eagle Squadron display.

The aircraft is painted in the markings of the original P-51 Mustang Princess Elizabeth, flown by  1st Lieutenant William T Whisner of the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group of the United States  Army Air Forces, at the time of the D-Day invasion.

The original Princess Elizabeth only wore her D-Day stripes for a day, as the aircraft was shot down by  ground fire, on 6 June 1944, over France. Another pilot, Lieutenant Robert Butler, was flying her that day.  He parachuted safely behind Allied lines and soon returned to duty, but the aircraft was lost.

Bill Whisner, Princess Elizabeth’s regular pilot, began his Second World War flying career on P-47 Thunderbolts with the 487th Fighter Squadron. Initially providing bomber escort cover, the P-47’s  short range impeded its ability to get involved in the action. A change of escort tactics provided the unit  with more opportunities to engage with the enemy and Bill’s first kill came within days, destroying a  Fw 190 which had just shot down a B-17 Flying Fortress.
In March 1944, the 352nd Fighter Group was equipped with P-51 Mustangs and its success rate  dramatically improved. By the end of April 1944, Bill had been made an Ace.

As was customary in aerial warfare, all fighter aircraft were nicknamed by their respective pilots, with  names and accompanying insignia painted onto the aircraft’s nose. At this point, Bill was flying the only  unnamed Mustang on the squadron and was not impressed to discover that his P-51 Mustang had been  christened without his knowledge or input. An 8th Air Force Press Officer decided to honour an  impending visit by Princess Elizabeth by naming a Mustang after her. Unfortunately for Bill, his  commanding officers agreed with the idea and Whisner’s aircraft was so named. He endured a lot of  teasing from his fellow pilots and did not welcome the resulting publicity.

Bill received his first Distinguished Service Cross for actions against enemy fighters on 21 November  1944 while escorting bomber aircraft deep into Germany. Set upon by a large formation of enemy  fighters, Bill was credited with destroying six Fw 190s and two more probable kills.

He won a Silver Star for a strafing attack against a heavily defended railway junction on 24 May 1944.  Separated from his unit with a damaged aircraft, he pressed home his attack, destroying no less than ten  locomotives. One of his attacking runs was so low that his canopy was sprayed with oil from an exploding  train. The official dispatch stated, “this outstanding record attests to Lieutenant Whisner’s gallantry,  indomitable fighting spirit and skill as a pilot.”

His second Distinguished Service Cross was awarded for airfield defence in Belgium on 1 January 1945.  As the 362nd Fighter Group’s Belgian base came under attack, an hour-long low altitude mass dogfight  ensued. Bill destroyed a Fw 190 but then was hit by 20mm cannon fire. Despite a damaged aileron and  an oil-covered canopy, he carried on fighting and proceeded to shoot down two Me 109s and a further  Fw 190.

By the end of the Second World War, the 352nd Fighter Group had claimed 519 enemy aircraft destroyed  in the air and 287 destroyed on the ground. Bill Whisner had claimed 15 and-a-half victories, putting him  in the top 20 of United States Army Air Forces Aces in the European Theatre of Operations.

He also reached Ace status in the Korean War, becoming one of only seven pilots to achieve Ace status in  both the Second World War and the Korean War. He was one of only three pilots to be awarded three  Distinguished Flying Crosses, winning a third for actions in Korea. He retired from the United States Air  Force with the rank of Colonel and passed away in July 1989.

It is the stories of these courageous and determined individuals, and many more like them, that we  honour in the Spring Air Show.

The Eagle Squadron forms the centrepiece of the Spring Air Show where historic US warbirds take to the  skies as we remember the time when the stars and stripes flew at RAF Duxford.

Purchase your tickets for the Spring Air Show by Monday 13 May at our advance booking rate and enjoy  10% off our ‘on the day’ ticket prices. Also, one free child ticket is available with every adult or senior  ticket purchased in advance.

Outdoor concert to hit the right note

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

6th July 2013Gates open 5.00pm

The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be staging a ‘Proms in the Park’ concert on 6th July to celebrate the 75th anniversary of RAF Cosford. This spectacular outdoor party will not only feature classic and modern music but also two aerobatic displays and a fireworks pageant that will end the night on a climactic note.

Taking place on Saturday 6th July, this captivating evening of music and entertainment will be staged in the Museum’s grounds under the wings of Cosford’s Hercules aircraft. A giant stage will be erected to accommodate a variety of live musical performances that will include a full Orchestra, Soul band, local Military Wives Choir and an Electric Violinist. The Wessex Concert Orchestra with Soprano will perform a two hour concert for guests who are encouraged to join in the spirit of things and sing along to some well-known numbers including the ever popular ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. Present for the whole evening will be a RAF hot air balloon that will loom large over the stage and provide the perfect backdrop to the evening events

One of the many highlights of the evening will be a full flying display from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfire (weather permitting). Visitors will also enjoy a parachute display from the RAF Falcons, which will see the squad’s members jump from an aircraft to parachute in formation to the ground before attending the concert and meeting with the public. .

In addition to the night’s musical performances and entertainment, there will be refreshments available all evening including a fully licensed bar, hot food and snacks. As this is an outdoor event, attendees are welcome to bring along their own picnic and refreshments. Camping chairs and blankets are highly recommended so guests can sit back and enjoy the show including a spectacular fireworks finale which will conclude the evening’s events at 10.00pm.

The Prom will be raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund – the RAF’S leading welfare charity and the RAF Museum. The RAF Benevolent Fund has been supporting the RAF family since 1919. The RAF Benevolent Fund is there, through thick and thin, to support RAF personnel and their families, whenever assistance is required no matter whether they are current or ex serving members of the Service. The RAF Benevolent Fund team will also be present on the night and will be happy to answer any questions that guests might have about the great work they do.

Anyone wishing to attend this spectacular evening can purchase tickets online via the Museum’s website Tickets are now on sale and are priced at just £20.00 for adults and children under 16 are free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Gates open at 5.00pm with music starting at 5.30pm and the fun continues late into the night.

RAF Cosford Reveal Line-Up For Air Show Extravaganza

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

With just a few weeks remaining until the 2013 RAF Cosford Air Show, organisers confirm the complete line-up of flying displays ready to thrill the crowds on Sunday 9th June.

Despite boasting an already impressive schedule, the event organisers are hinting that the roster of aircraft in attendance might still grow in the weeks leading up to the show and suggest that visitors will be treated to more than they bargained for.

One of the key themes to this year’s Air Show is the celebration of RAF Cosford’s 75th Anniversary, with the flying display kicking off with a special flypast of aircraft associated with the history of the West Midlands base.

In a similar light to last year’s surprise visit by an RAF VC10 tanker aircraft, the organisers have managed to secure an exclusive fly-through by a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The presence of the Brize Norton based C-130 currently makes Cosford the only RAF Air Show this year to offer the aircraft in its flying display.

The extensive collection of airborne displays on offer this year includes some of the greatest aircraft ever to take to the skies. Since its appearance was confirmed a few weeks ago, Avro Vulcan XH558 from the Vulcan to the Sky Trust has become one of the most hotly anticipated displays on the day. What’s more, the support from the last airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe, known affectionately as ‘Sally B’, also helped stir interest for the family day out as the list of well-known vintage aircraft has grown.

As one of only three remaining RAF sponsored Air Shows across the country, the military presence will be strong over the Shropshire station of RAF Cosford including the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with their Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota aircraft. RAF display aircraft will be in abundance and highlighted by the Eurofighter Typhoon providing an unforgettable display, alongside the World famous RAF Red Arrows performing their unique demonstration of professional excellence that promises to wow the crowd.

Military rotary aircraft will also provide a number of key displays, with an RAF Sea King helicopter providing a role demonstration of the vital work they carry out 24 hours a day. Members of the public will be able to enjoy displays flown by an RAF Chinook and an Army Air Corps Apache both individually and combined as they complete their own displays followed by a Medical Evacuation demonstration to provide an insight into one of their key tasks on deployed operations.

Aerobatic displays will be sure to get the adrenaline pumping as a number of teams, including the popular RV8tors and The Blades, show off their dare-devil flying skills and demonstrate the ultimate example of accuracy and agility.

Air Show spokesman Flying Officer Sam Jewell says “The RAF Cosford Air Show has developed one of the most promising line-ups for a number of years and we are thrilled to be able to offer members of the public such a spectacular day out. Combined with a unique and diverse selection of activities and exhibits on the ground, this year’s event looks set to be one of the best on offer nationwide and we hope that members of the public will join us for what promises to be a fun-filled family day out.”

Other confirmations for Sunday 9th June include the Breitling Wing Walkers, O’Briens Flying Circus, the SWIP Team, Aerostars, an F-86 Sabre and a privately-owned Supermarine Spitfire. Additional military displays include the RAF Grob Tutor and Shorts Tucano training aircraft, as well as the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team, an Army Air Corps Lynx helicopter and the Royal Navy Historic Flight with their Sea Fury aircraft.

All profits made from the RAF Cosford Air Show are donated to service and local charities.

For more information or to book tickets visit or call 24-hour ticket line on 0871 230 1083 (10p/min).

Visitors looking to make the most of their day at RAF Cosford and reduce any possible travel delays are encouraged to exploit a special Air Show train timetable which provides extra services throughout the day. For those further afield, see our website for coach companies operating excursions near you