A somewhat delayed photographic look at the D-Day anniversary show at Duxford in May. The event focused on representative aircraft covering all of the aspects of the invasion, including a precious few that were actually involved seventy years ago. Modern sport gliders substituted for the troop carriers of the war, but otherwise the display consisted of examples of types from the period plus modern aircraft with links to those involved. A number of aircraft have had invasion stripes applied for the commemorations, with those on the Grace Spitfire ML407 purposely painted in an accurately rough fashion typical of the time.
Having passed over Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Birthday Flypast (see below) the Red Arrows went on to land at ‘London’ Biggin Hill Airport in preparation for their part in the Festival of Flight, a welcome return of a public airshow at this historic ex-RAF airfield. Limited to 15,000 advance purchased tickets – all sold – the day saw three sections of display flying interspersed with ground attractions, culminating in an evening display by the Reds. Upon completion of their display the team were joined by Paul Bonhomme in the Old Flying Machine Company’s Spitfire IX MH434, once owned and flown so perfectly by the late, great Ray Hanna. Ray used to close the old Biggin Hill Air Fairs with inimitable displays in the Spitfire and was also a member of the first Red Arrows team of 1965, taking the position as Red 1 the following year.
The following is a photographic overview of the day.
The Red Arrows being introduced to the audience and receiving, and giving, a number of awards:
(Large scale flying models!)
Organised by the Essex branch of the Military Vehicle Trust this event is primarily a chance for owners of tanks, armoured vehicles and re-enactment groups to showcase their equipment – and to make a lot of noise during firepower displays.
Spread over the fields adjacent to Damyns Hall Aerodrome the event also includes other vintage and retro themes, a pleasingly large number of local and military charity outlets, musical entertainment and a three hour flying display.
Polka Dot Dolls:
Making its return to display flying and sporting new details to its Vietnam era colour scheme the North Weald based Bell UH-1 ‘Huey’ impressed with an aggressive low-level routine.
Spitfire IX TA805 ‘Spirit of Kent’ from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar appeared minus its familiar black and white invasion stripes which have been removed for film work. It was flown by Clive Denney who had returned having earlier displayed BHHH’s Harvard.
Peter Teichman displayed the Hangar 11 ‘Hurribomber’ whilst B-17 Sally B also appeared, adding to an impressive warbird line-up.
Lighter aircraft made up the rest of the show, from trainers of various ages, through communications aircraft to wingwalking.
Damyns Hall is located near Upminster, Essex, inside the M25, and has scheduled its 2014 event for 1, 2 and 3 August. Well worth looking out for.
Duxford’s first show of 2013 commemorated the 70th anniversary of the arrival at the wartime Cambridgeshire airfield of the 78th Fighter Group of the US Army Air Force. Initially equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts and arriving in April 1943, the Group traded them for P-51 Mustangs in December 1944, and both types played a significant part in the commemorations – not just at the show but also as part of the following day’s flypasts over other significant airfields with links to the USAAF and also the Cambridge American Cemetery at Madingley – see Madingley flypast .
As part of the ‘Eagle Squadron’ P-47 ‘Snafu’ and P-51 ‘Princess Elizabeth’ were joined by a Hurricane and Spitfire representing aircraft flown by volunteer US pilots at a time before their home country had joined the battle, and these squadrons flew under that title. Flying as a four-ship, with B-17 ‘Sally B’, with the Red Arrows and in pairs, the ‘Eagle Squadron’ was one of the most eagerly anticipated display acts of recent years – and they didn’t fail to deliver. Led by British pilot Paul Bonhomme in the Hurricane, the remaining members of the quartet were the three pilots that make up the ‘Bremont Horsemen Flight Team’ – Dan Friedkin (Spitfire), Ed Shipley (Mustang) and Steve Hinton (Thunderbolt). The trio normally fly Mustangs and have been seen before at Duxford doing so in a mix of UK-based P-51s and specially imported US-based airframes.
The US theme ran through the whole show both in the air and on the ground. ‘The Three Belles’ delighted the crowds on the ground:
whilst Golden Apple Operation’s F-86A Sabre made a welcome return after its engine issues:
US warbirds included a couple of P-40s (Pearl Harbor survivor P-40B illustrated), TF-51D Mustang ‘Miss Velma’ (a two-seater which took ‘Bud’ Anderson aloft before the display started and again on the Monday commemorations) two DC-3s, a Harvard pair and two L-4 Cubs.
Other warbird content included the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane, Westland Lysander and the pairs display of the ‘Grace Spitfire’ with ARCo’s Buchon.
Civilian teams gave added colour to the show with the Trig Aerobatic Team, RV8tors and the solo Breitling Stearman wingwalker making good use of the sunny conditions.
The focus of the event was quite rightly aimed at the historics, but the RAF did send the display Tucano in its homage scheme:
Due to delays the Tucano pilot hadn’t received his display authorisation in time to take part in the show. The RAF did though make an impact in closing the show with the Red Arrows making their UK 2013 debut, and flying nine Hawks for the first time since the tragedies of 2011.
Duxford’s first show of 2013 was an all-round success and heavily attended. Hopefully setting a trend for the rest of the year.
The next airshow at Duxford is the Flying Legends event over the weekend of 13 and 14 July.
With thanks to Esther Blaine and the IWM staff.