Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show

Report and Photos by Andrew Elphick

On Sunday 19th September I joined some friends at Castle Meadow at 8:00 am and went by Eastons Coaches to Duxford.

Once we arrived we had a look at the flightline, where all the aircraft taking part in the display were on show. Some of the highlights were the Historic Army Aircraft, which consisted of an Auster AOP9, Beaver and a Agusta Bell Sioux AHI helicopter which reminded me of the programme MASH. Further along there were three Historic Helicopters, a RAF Search and Rescue Whirlwind HAR10 which is the only airworthy one in the world, a Royal Navy rescue Wessex HU5 which is the only airworthy one in the world and a RAF Search and  Rescue Sea King HAR3. About half way along there were some aircraft of the “Bremont Great War Display Team” which included a Sopwith Triplane, two SE5s, two Fokker DR1 Triplanes and a Junkers CL1 with a dummy in the gunner’s position. Amongst the Spitfires was a Russian marked Spitfire Mk IX based at Biggin Hill. Near the far end were five Vans RV-8 aerobatic aircraft of “Team Raven Display Team” which were formed in 2014. We later went into the Land Warfare building to have a look at the D-Day section, where we went over a landing craft and saw various vehicles such as “Montgomery’s” caravan and a map truck.

Later I saw a Bristol Bolingbroke IVT /Blenheim I outside where John Smith/”Smudge” to his friends and members of the Club, was showing people around the cockpit and telling tales about the Blenheim for £25 to help raise funds.  Soon after leaving Smudge the Air Display started with a Spitfire Mk I, Mk IX and Mk XIV opening the Show with the purring of their Merlin engines and one Griffon. Next were four Hawker Hurricanes which was lovely to see. One from Bygone Aviation based at Old Warden, another from the Anglia Aircraft Retorations Ltd, another from Aircraft Restoration Company and another owned by Hurricane 501. Later two BBMF Spitfires roared over to do their display. Sadly no Lancaster as I was hoping. Next came Peter Teichman’s / Hanger 11 Russian marked Spitfire Mk IX. This is the first Soviet Land-Lease Spitfire to fly since the 1940s. After being restored it flew in October 2020 and can be fitted with dummy 250lb bombs. This did a solo display and is the only time I have seen it. A French marked Curtis Hawk 75 trundled down the taxiway along with a desert coloured Curtiss P-40F Warhawk to do their display. A B-17, Sally B, warmed up her engines and took off on her own, to give her moving display with smoke billowing out of one engine and sight of the bomb bay doors near the end.

The next display revolved around The Battle of Britain with three Buchons, a P-47 Thunderbolt named Nellie B, a TF-51 named Contrary Mary and a P-51 named Miss Helen These did a re-enaction showing the Buchons attacking the airfield with pyrotechnics going off and the Americans shooting them down with pyrotechnics going bang on the ground. Team Raven DisplayTeam with five Vans RV-8s took off to do various manoeuvres and formations. The Bremont Great War Display followed with a battle set in World War I with a Royal Flying Corps Sopwith Triplane, two SE5as trying to shoot down a German Junker CL1, and two Fokker DRI, with pyrotechnics going off on the ground.  The Historic Helicopters Team was next with a Sea King, which I remember from not so long ago and a rare RN Wessex which did a lovely display, however the rare Whirlwind had temporary technical issues and could not fly with the Wessex and Sea King. These came from Mr A D Whitehouse and his team in Chard, Somerset. The Historic Army Aircraft Flight followed, with a DHC-2 Beaver, an Auster AOP9 and an Agusta Bell Sioux. It was then the turn of the Consolidated Catalina/Canso showing its amphibious side with floats coming down from the tips of its wings. A Goodyear FG-1D Corsair and a Grumman F8F-P Bearcat displayed and then to finish the Show, it was the turn of thirteen Spitfires and four Hurricanes to form the Spitfire and Hurricane Balbo to mark The Battle of Britain.

By Andrew Elphick

Click on any picture to enlarge.