'Flying Legends' is one of the best air shows in Europe for seeing warbirds display, and this event is held every year at the historic Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire, which is organised and produced by 'The Fighter Collection'.
Duxford is also home to an extensive museum which is open to the public and free on air show days. As well as the museum there is plenty of entertainment on the ground including two Vintage Villages with a range of nostalgic entertainment. This included the Umbrella Big Band performing big band classics and the Hotsie Totsies singing songs from the 1920s to the 1940s.
The Home Front Bus gives people the chance to experience 1940s reconstructions such as a 1940s living room, shop, bombed out street and air raid shelter with all the sounds, sights and smells of Britain on the Home Front, with all this contained in a double decker bus.
In Hangar 2 there was a preview of extended footage of the film 'Spitfire' being screened. This film will be shown in cinemas across the country this Summer.
Before the show starts there is the chance to get much closer to the aircraft by paying to go on the flightline walk and this year there is a new grandstand which offers an uninterrupted view of the flying display.
The flying display started at 2pm and lasted to around 5.30pm on each day. To kick-off the air display we were treated to a Spitfire Scramble, tailchase's and flypasts. There was an incredible fifteen Spitfires at the show with three Mk.Is up to a Mk.XVIII and three Tr.9s. A list of the Spitfires included:
Supermarine Spitfire Mk I (G-CGUK/X4650) - Comanche Fighters.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia (G-AIST/AR213) - Spitfire The One Ltd.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia (G-CFGJ/N3200) - Imperial War Museum.
Supermarine Spitfire Vb (G-LFVB/EP120) - The Fighter Collection.
Supermarine Spitfire Vb (G-MKVB/BM597) - Historic Aircraft Collection.
Supermarine Spitfire MkVc (G-LFVC/JG891) - Comanche Fighters.
Supermarine Spitfire MK Vc (G-IBSY/EE602) - Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXb (G-ASJV/MH434) - Old Flying Machine Company.
Supermarine Spitfire PRXI (G-PRXI/PL983) - Aircraft Restoration Company.
Supermarine Spitfire FR XIV (G-SPIT/MV293) - Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI (Low Back) (G-OXVI/TD248) - Spitfire Ltd.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVIII (G-BUOS/SM845) - Spitfire Ltd.
Supermarine Spitfire Tr.9 (G-CTIX/PT462) - Aircraft Restoration Company.
Supermarine Spitfire Tr.9 (G-CCCA/IAC-161) formerly PV202 - Aircraft Restoration Company.
Supermarine Spitfire Tr.9 (G-LFIX/ML407) - Air Leasing.
Supermarine Spitfire MK Vc (G-IBSY/EE602) was a Presentation Spitfire which was built in Yeovil, Somerset in September 1942. This Spitfire wears the title 'Central Railways Uruguayan Staff', forward of the cockpit, after the company raised £5,000 to pay for the fighter's construction. Minister of Aircraft Production, Lord Beaverbrook promoted the idea of raising much needed funds to help Britain defend itself against Nazi attack and any individual, Company, Club, County or even another country could buy their own Presentation Spitfire which would bear their name. This aircraft was credited with damaging an Fw 190 with Rhodesian-born Flight Lieutenant George Elcombe at the controls and later in May 1943, EE602, piloted by Flight lieutenant Euan Watson, participated in the escort of B-17F (41-24485), better known as Memphis Belle which was the first USAAF bomber to complete 25 missions. The aircraft was restored to flight on 15th May 2015, where she flew at Biggin Hill.
There were two Spitfires owned by 'Comanche Fighters Ltd' in the display :- Spitfire Mk I (G-CGUK/X4650) and Spitfire MkVc (G-LFVC/JG891).
The Mk.I (X4650) was involved in a mid-air collision in December 1940 and struck off charge. The wreckage was later discovered on the banks of the river Lever in 1976 and the remains of the aircraft were acquired by Peter Monk in 1995. X4650 was restored to flight and her post-restoration flight took place in March 2012 at Biggin Hill.
Spitfire MkVc (G-LFVC/JG891) also owned by 'Comanche Fighters Ltd' was built at Castle Bromwich before being shipped to Australia in February 1943. It later moved to Papua New Guinea and in January 1944 flipped over during a flapless landing which resulted in the aircraft being written off, however the pilot suffered only minor injuries. Along with two other Spitfires the aircraft was dumped into the undergrowth where it was discovered in 1973. The Spitfire passed through a number of owners until being acquired by Karel Bos and his company 'Historic Flying' in 1999. The Spitfire was partly restored at Duxford from 2003 then sold to an American collector in 2006 who contracted HFL to finish the aircraft. JG891 post-restoration flight was in November 2006 and the aircraft was shipped to the owner's base in Florida during January 2008. This aircraft was then acquired by 'Comanche Fighters Ltd' in December 2008 and painted in the authentic colours of a Spitfire MkVc of 249 Sqn operating from Ta Qali airfield, Malta in 1943.
Next in the display we had a 'Naval Tribute' with Corsairs and a Bearcat.
The Corsairs were Corsair FG-D
(G-FGID) belonging to the Fighter Collection, Corsair F4U-5N
(F-AZEG) owned by Casques de Cuir in France and a Corsair F4U-4
(OE-EAS) of the Flying Bulls. The Grumman Bearcat F8F
(G-RUMM) is part of the Fighter Collection.
The Corsair is an American built aircraft designed as a carrier-based aircraft. The Corsair entered service in large numbers with the U.S. Navy in late 1944 and early 1945. It was also operated by the British, Royal New Zealand Air Force, French Naval Aviation, and other air forces until the 1960s. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II. The Bearcat was also an American carrier-based fighter aircraft which was introduced in late World War II and would be Grumman's final piston engined fighter aircraft.
We were then treated to a trio of Curtiss aircraft from The Fighter Collection :- Curtiss-Wright Hawk 75
(G-CCVH), Curtiss-Wright P-40C
(G-CIIO), and Curtiss-Wright P-40F
The Curtiss Hawk 75 is an American designed and built aircraft, which they called the P-36 Hawk. This particular aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in 1939 and is the only version of this aircraft in the World that is airworthy. This was the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk which was built in large numbers and served with many Allied Powers during World War II. The USAAF used the name 'Warhawk' for this aircraft while the British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name 'Tomahawk' for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C and 'Kittyhawk' for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.
Next in the display were the Furies :- The Fighter Collection's Sea Fury T20
(WG655/G-CHFP), and the Sea Fury Mk.II
(G-CBEL) from Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd.
The Sea Fury Mk.II (G-CBEL) was initially produced by Hawker's as a Fury ISS, an Iraqi Single Seat for the Iraqi Air Force. It was more recently
refurbished and repainted, by Air Leasing Ltd, in the colours of one of Hawker's Sea Fury prototypes coded SR661, which was a modified Fury Mk.II with a tail hook fitted, but without the folding wings. This aircraft is currently based at North Weald Airfield in Essex.
The Hawker Sea Fury is a British fighter aircraft and was the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was one of the fastest production single-seat reciprocating engine aircraft ever built.
Next, for the 'Battle of Britain' theme we had a Bristol Blenheim with two Spitfires and four Hurricanes. The four Hawker Hurricanes were Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
(P2902/G-ROBT) of Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd, Hawker Hurricane Mk. I
(P3717/G-HITT) of Bygone Aviation, Hawker Hurricane XII
(Z5140/G-HURI) of Historic Aircraft Collection Ltd and Jan Friso Roozen's Hawker Hurricane Mk IIa
(P3351/F-AZXR). The Bristol Blenheim I
(L6739/G-BPIV) was from the Aircraft Restoration Company.
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber and the Mk.I was faster than most fighters in the late 1930s but the advance in monoplane fighters soon made all bombers more vulnerable, although the Blenheim did prove to be successful as a night fighter.
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft of the 1930s-1940s. During the Battle of Britain, in 1940, the Hurricane actually inflicted 60 percent of the losses sustained by the Luftwaffe in the engagement, although many people associate the Battle of Britain with the legendary Spitfire.
We also saw the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Avro Lancaster
on Sunday. The BBMF own one of only two Lancasters flying in the world today. They also have six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Dakota, and two Chipmunks which are operated by the Royal Air Force and have been based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire since 1976. The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined strategic bomber that was used as the RAF's principal heavy bomber during the latter half of the Second World War.
Next was the 'Classic Formation' of a Dakota and three Beech 18s. 'Classic Formation', owned by Hugo Mathys, operates the Dakota - C-47A
(42-24133/N431HM) as well as the three Beech 18s
(N21FS, N184KP & N223CM).
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota, which is the RAF designation, is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and 'mother ship' for target drones.
Up next was the 'Luftwaffe & Battle of Britain Movie Tribute' theme which included no fewer than four Buchons and three Spitfires (Mk.I, Mk.V and Mk.IX). The Buchon was a license-built version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 which was developed in Spain during and after World War II. The four Buchons included Air Leasing Ltds Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon
'Yellow 7' (G-AWHM), Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon
'White 9' (G-AWHH), and Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon
'Red 11' (G-AWHC). The Hispano HA-1112 MIL Buchon
(G-AWHK) is operated by the Aircraft Restoration Company.
The impressive sight of all these Buchons and Spitfires in the air was accompanied by some stirring music from the Battle of Britain movie. All of these aircraft were actually in the original 1969 movie and the film helped to preserve many of the warbirds that we see today.
'Bomber Escort' was the next theme with a B-17G Flying Fortress
'Sally B' (44-85784/G-BEDF), P-47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie'
(45-49192/G-THUN) and three P-51 Mustangs :- Norwegian Spitfire Foundation's P-51D Mustang
(44-73877/G-SHWN) previously called 'Old Crow', Early Birds Foundation's P-51D Mustang
'Trusty Rusty' (44-74923/PH-JAT) and Anglia Aircraft Restorations Ltd's P-51D Mustang
'Contrary Mary' (44-84847/G-TFSI) previously called 'Miss Velma'.
The B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and was used by the
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the daylight strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. American bombers attacked the enemy by day while the British bombers did the same by night which weakened the Wehrmacht considerably and destroyed German morale.
There were many loses of these bombers and their crews to German fighters until the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt, long-range fighters, with improved drop tanks, were able to escort the bombers all the way to and from the target.
The 'United States Air Force Heritage Flight' was next with the USAF F-35A Lightning II
, P-51D Mustang
'Hun Hunter/Texas' (N351MX) and a Spitfire Mk.V
(JG891). This display act was shared with the Royal International Air Tattoo which took place on the same weekend.
The F-35A Lightning II is the conventional take-off and landing variant of this new fifth generation stealth jet. The P-51D Mustang 'Hun Hunter/Texas', N351MX and the Spitfire, a Mk.Vc (JG891), are both owned and operated by Comanche Fighters LLC in Houston, Texas.
We then had a display from the DC3 & Grumman Wildcat with a 'Norwegian Tribute' theme. These were Foundation Dakota Norway's C-53D Skytrooper
(42-68823/LN-WND) and The Fighter Collection's Grumman Wildcat
The 'Foundation Dakota Norway' C-53D Dakota originally took part in the 8th Air Force operations from October 1943 until 1945, although the exact early history of the aircraft is unknown. Finnair operated this aircraft until 1969 when it was used by the Finnish Air Force as a VIP aircraft for President Urho Kekkonen, until 1985. Thore Virik from Sandefjord and Arne Karlsen from Stokke then purchased this aircraft and fly it in Norway, where it is registered as LN-WND.
The American Grumman Wildcat was operated by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II and initially called the 'Martlet'. In March 1945, Wildcats shot down four Messerschmitt Bf 109s over Norway, which was the Fleet Air Arm's last victory with a Wildcat.
'The Flying Bulls', based at Salzburg Airport in Austria, operate a fleet of aircraft and they brought along their DC-6B
(OE-LDM), P-38 Lightning
(N25Y), F4U-4 Corsair
(OE-EAS), and B-25J Mitchell
(N6123C) to Duxford's Flying legends air show.
The beautiful DC-6 is the crown jewel of the Red Bulls fleet of aircraft and in 1958 was sold to the state-owned Yugoslavian airline JAT and was used by Premier Marshall Tito and his celebrity guests. Their P-38 Lightning is also impressive in its polished scheme and is currently the only flying P-38 in Europe. The Flying Bulls Corsair is one of only four models made by Chance Vought Aircraft that are airworthy in Europe, and the B-25J Mitchell also has a perfect polished exterior with the distinctive Red Bulls logo.
The Flying Bulls are a group of aviation enthusiasts with a great passion for rare historical aeroplanes and helicopters. Their knowledge of aircraft maintenance and restoration is second to none. The Flying Bulls began in the 1980s with Sigi Angerer who had a passion for historic planes and teamed up with Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz who saw an ideal corporate symbol for the 'Red Bull gives you wings' advertising slogan in the extraordinary aircraft. As the energy drink began to conquer the world, so did the fleet of aircraft. the 'Flying Bulls' company was created in 1999 and the combination of technical excellence and stunning looks has made stars out of the Flying Bulls.
As is customary at the end of a Flying Legends air display, we saw many of the warbirds take-off to take part in the Balbo Formation. While the Balbo is forming up it is the job of the 'Joker', in his silver Hawker Sea Fury T.20 (WG655/G-CHFP), to keep the crowd entertained.
An interesting aircraft on static display was a rare FIAT CR42 'Falco' which has recently been painted in a new scheme and is owned by 'The Fighter Collection'. There are just four complete examples remaining in the world today, and none are currently flying, although that is about to change before too long with this aircraft.
Thanks to the 'The Fighter Collection' and the 'Imperial War Museum Duxford' for putting on another superb Flying Legends air show this year, and below is the date for the September Battle of Britain Air Show at Duxford.
The next major air show at Duxford will be in September which will be the last official RAF100 air show of the season, chosen because of Duxford's important 100 year history.
Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show - Saturday 22nd - Sunday 23rd September 2018.
Article by Dave Key with photos by John Bilcliffe - www.militaryairshows.co.uk