Battle of Britain Air Show
22nd & 23rd September 2018
Mixed formations are a regular feature of the show
The IWM Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow was the final official celebratory event for RAF 100, chosen for this accolade because of Duxford’s significant 100 year history.
The show also showcased the modern and future RAF with a selection of current service aircraft on the ground and in the air in a display of modern airpower.
A major feature of the show was innovative displays such as the 617 Squadron Flypast of Lancaster, Tornado GR4 and F-35 Lightning II, first seen at RIAT earlier in the year, representing the past, present and future of the famous Dambuster Squadron.
There were disappointments, too, not least the cancellation of the Voyager and other significant reductions in the flying programme on Sunday, largely because of an atrocious weather forecast that turned out to be too pessimistic.
There is always a feast of Spitfires at Duxford, but this show had something special with no fewer than 18 in the air together, in addition to one from the BBMF.
Apart from the RAF 100 celebrations, and demonstration of RAF prowess, for the second year running the show centred on the Battle of Britain theme with formations that celebrated and commemorated the RAF's greatest battle honour.
A more detailed commentary on the show, with photos, will be here in due course.
The IWM had pleaded for several weeks that visitors arrive early by car or catch courtesy buses to the event. Perhaps too many people took their advice because the effect appears to have been huge queues both for the buses and on the roads from early in the morning on Saturday: and very frustrated customers. Getting away after the show did not appear to be problematic.
See all of the IWM
Entrance to the museum, interactive exhibitions and all public buildings is included in the air show ticket price.
About IWM Duxford
Duxford was an airfield in the First World War and was an RAF fighter station and then an American fighter base in the second. It was the base of the first operational Spitfire squadron during WW2.
It is now home to the Imperial War Museum with aviation, tanks, military vehicles and naval exhibits as well as the Fighter Collection, The Old Flying Machine Company, The Aircraft Restoration Company, Historic Aircraft Collection, B-17 Preservation Society and others.
|Aircraft. The original list, with illustrations, is on the show's web site
|Flying (all both days unless stated)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF)|
|Voyager KC Mk 2 (Sunday only) Flypast with two Typhoons and A400M|
|617 Sq Flypast:|
F-35 Lightning ll
|Moth formation: 16 Tiger Moths in formation as the characters '100'|
|Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane (BBMF)|
|Grob Tutor (RAF)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a N3200 (IWM)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1 AR213 / P7308 (Comanche Fighters)(Not Sunday)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1 X4650 (Comanche Fighters)(Not Sunday)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb EP120 (TFC)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb BM597 (Historic Aircraft Collection)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc AR501 (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc JG891 (Comanche Fighters via The Fighter Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc EE602 (Air Leasing)(Not Sunday)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII MT928 (Maxi Gainza)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk lX TD314 (Aero Legends)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk lXb MH434 (OFMC)|
|Supermarine Spitfire T9 (ARC)|
|Supermarine Spitfire T9 (Aero Legends)|
|Supermarine Spitfire T9 (Aircraft Restoration Company)|
|Supermarine Spitfire PRXl PL983 (ARC)|
|Supermarine Spitfire PRXl PL965 (Hangar 11) |
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk XlVe MV293|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVle MV268 (Richard Grace)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVlll SM845|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 P3717|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 P2902 |
|Hawker Hurricane Mk Xlla 5711 (HAC)|
|Hawker Hurricane R4118|
|Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk lb Z7015 (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Avro Tutor (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Avro Anson (BAe Systems)|
|BAC Jet Provost (Jeff Bell)|
|Bristol Fighter (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Bristol Blenheim (ARC)|
|Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (Plane Sailing)|
|De Havilland DH.82a Tiger Moth (Classic Wings)|
|De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide (Classic Wings)|
|De Havilland Devon (Aero Legends)|
|De Havilland Vampires FB52 &T55 (NAFHS)|
|De Havilland Canada Chipmunk, WZ879 (Howard Cook)|
|Folland Gnat T1 x2 (Oliver Wheeldon)|
|Gloster Gladiator I (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Hawker Nimrod I (The Fighter Collection)|
|Hawker Nimrod II (Historic Aircraft Company)|
|Hawker Fury I (Historic Aircraft Company)|
|Hispano Buchon HA-112 MIL (Aircraft Restoration Company)|
|Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon “White 9″ (Richard Grace)|
|Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchon “Yellow 7″ (Richard Grace)|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI (NAFHS) (Not Saturday: standing water on runway)|
|Miles Magister (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|North American Harvard (Aircraft Restoration Company)|
|North American P-51D Mustang 44-73877 (Norwegian Spitfire Foundation)|
|North American P-51D Mustang 44-72216 (Aircraft Restoration Company)|
|Percival Prentice (Aero Legends)|
|Percival Provost T1 (Dave Cooper)|
|Percival Pembroke CI (Percival Aircraft)|
|RAF SE5a (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Westland Lysander (Shuttleworth Collection)(Not Sunday)|
|Westland Whirlwind HAR10 (Andrew Whitehouse)|
|Yakovlev Yak 3 (Will Greenwood)|
|Yakovlev Yak 3 'White 100' (Mark Davy)|
|B-17G Sally B|
|Additionally most of the aircraft in the flying displays, and generally a few extras, will be on static display beforehand|
|All appearances are subject to technical, weather and other constraints|
IWM Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow
23rd & 24th September 2017
Seafire and Corsair
As always at Duxford, the choice of aircraft for the flying displays reflected the theme. The theme for the September airshow, which seems set to become a regular September theme, was ‘The Battle of Britain’, providing opportunities for a wealth of highlights, including some spectacular formations.
Right from the beginning these formations impressed. First in the air were six Hurricanes, including Shuttleworth’s Sea Hurricane and Hangar 11’s ’Hurribomber’ flying a pair of equal vic formations, first with a flypast but developing into a series of tailchases over the airfield. Leading the formation was Dave Harvey and in the other Hurricanes were Stu Goldspink, Clive Denney, Paul Stone, Peter Teichman and Mark Davy.
It would be churlish to comment other than in praise of the achievement, although it has to be said that the formation could have been even richer as R4118 was originally slated to fly but had not recovered from a cracked block in time. Keep an eye on the Duxford airshows flying lists for a Hurricane formation with at least seven Hurricanes - unthinkable a few years ago but becoming more probable as restorations continue.
A seventh Hurricane was, indeed, soon in the air as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane, followed on.
The show featured two aircraft that were stars of Christopher Nolan's film 'Dunkirk', which details the episode of the war that resulted in the saving of 330,000 Allied soldiers from the French beaches.
One was the Bristol Blenheim. Once the most numerous RAF type, this example is now the only airworthy survivor in the world. The other was the Hispano Buchón, painted as wartime Messerschmitt Bf 109.
At the other end of the afternoon was another of the formations visitors can rely on Duxford to present. Shows here are well known for their mass formations of Spitfires, but this one was even more special, being the first part of a two-segment finale lasting over 40 minutes. This first element of the finale, the Spitfire formation, involved no fewer than 13 Spitfires, led by Brian Smith, and recreating what will have been a familiar sight in 1940 when Duxford was an important Second World War fighter station. Duxford Spitfire formations have been larger than this but in the past they have stood on their own. In 2017 the mass take-off, big-wing and tailchase was followed by the finale part two, and further show highlight, in the form of 5 Hurricanes flying alongside the Blenheim, a trio of Mk 1 Spitfires and a Gloster Gladiator. All six Hurricanes would have been back in the air for the finale, but one went tech on each of the days.
Several elements of this show were somewhat reminiscent of the previous July's Flying Legends, which also had a large Hurricane formation, a mass Spitfire formation and featured a similar, though not identical, Blenheim set piece. As if to emphasise the similarities, the September show also borrowed Flying Legends’ ‘Joker’ theme, presented on this occasion by Steve Jones flying Anglia Aircraft Restoration’s Spitfire FR.XIVe whilst the bulk of the similar craft were formating and slotting seamlessly into the set piece as the big wing made its first pass.
Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c
Vampires and MiG-15
Between these impressive opening and closing mass formations was an intensive afternoon of spectacular flying, broken into sessions to illustrate how the RAF came to readiness for the Battle itself and the involvement of other aircraft types before, during and following the second world war.
The tour through aviation achievements included the very earliest aircraft to enter battle - or at least replicas of them - when the Great War Display Team battled each other, and the wind, to illustrate what aerial combat may have been like in the first of the world wars. The display was augmented by ground strafing and aerial explosions, lending the effect of real battle activity and helping spectators to envisage what working life may have been like for the early pioneers of aerial combat.
A more romantic look at military training came with a balletic demonstration of the predominant training type, the Tiger Moth, by the Tiger 9 Team.
Non-training aircraft from the same era were represented by the Mk 1 Hawkers Nimrod and Fury from the Historic Aircraft Collection on Saturday (although strong winds prevented a repeat of the flowing displays on Sunday) and a rare combination of Mercury-engined aircraft brought together Blenheim, Gladiator and Lysander as a trio and as individual displays. The Lysander was an absentee on Sunday, because of the gusty conditions, and in another display the Curtiss Hawk 75 was also unable to fly, this time for technical reasons. This left an intended pairs display reduced to a solo by The Fighter Collection's P-40C Warhawk. The display itself was one of the best of the show with some impressive manoeuvres in a long display on Saturday, extended even further on Sunday when the withdrawal of other aircraft released additional time into the programme.
||Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane (both days, but no Spitfire on Sunday)|
|Boeing B-17G 'Sally B'|
|Bristol Blenheim Mk 1 G-BPIV|
|Consolidated PBY Catalina G-PBYA|
||Curtiss-Wright P40C G-CIIO|
||Curtiss-Wright Hawk 75A G-CCVH (did not fly)|
|Douglas C-47 Skytrain '2100884'|
||Douglas C-47 Skytrain '19345' 'Drag 'Em Oot'|
|de Havilland Vampires T.55 & FB.52|
|de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moths x9|
|Gloster Gladiator Mk 1 'K7985'|
|Goodyear Corsair FG-1D G-FGID|
||Great War Display Team (6 on Saturday, 5 on Sunday)|
||Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat G-RUMM|
||Grumman FM-2 Wildcat G-RUMW|
|Hawker Fury Mk 1 'K5674'|
|Hawker Fury FB.11 'SR661' |
||Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-HITT 'P3717'|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk llb 'BE505'|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk X 'AE977' painted as Mk 1 P2921 (Biggin Hill Hurricane Hangar)|
||Hawker Hurricane Mk XII G-HURI 'P3700'|
|Hawker Hurricane 'P2902' (Air Leasing)|
||Hawker Nimrod Mk 1 G-BWWK 'S1581' |
|Hawker Nimrod Mk 11 G-BURZ 'K3661' (did not fly)|
|Hawker Sea Hurricane G-BKTH 'Z7105'|
||Hispano Buchón HA1112 G-AWHK 'Black 8'|
|North American P-51D Mustang 'Miss Helen' (damaged on Saturday. Did not fly Sunday)|
|North American P-51D Mustang 'The Shark' (Took off Saturday but did not display either day)|
||Supermarine Seafire LF111 G-BUAR 'PP972'|
||Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a G-CFGJ 'N3200'|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a AR213 'P7308'(Comanche Fighters)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a X4650 (Comanche Fighters)|
|Supermarine Spitfire LFVb G-LFVB 'EP120'|
||Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb G-MKVB 'BM597'|
||Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1X G-LFIX 'ML407' 'Grace Spitfire'|
|Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk IX G-BRSF 'RR232'|
|Supermarine Spitfire TR9 NH341 (Aero Legends)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1Xb G-ASJV 'MH434'|
||Supermarine Spitfire Tr9 G-CCCA 'PV202'|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk lXe 'TD314'|
||Supermarine Spitfire Mk XV111 G-BUOS 'SM845'|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk XV1 'TD248' |
|Supermarine Spitfire TR.9 'SM520' (Boultbee Academy)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk X1Ve' MV293' (Air Leasing)|
|Westland Lysander (Did not fly Sunday. Too gusty)|
|Yak-3M (Air Leasing)|
|Additionally most of the aircraft in the flying displays and the RNHF Sea Fury were on static display beforehand|
|Cancelled, withdrawn or no longer listed by IWM Duxford|
||Swordfish W5865. Unserviceable. Had been scheduled by operator but not confirmed by show. |
||Curtiss-Wright P-36C G-CIXJ|
||Gloster Gladiator 'N5903' G-GLAD|
||Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 G-HUPW 'R4118' (unserviceable - cracked block)|
||Hispano Buchón HA1112 M4L 40/2 (Air Leasing). Not ready|
As well as aircraft that preceded the Battle of Britain, the programme also included contemporaries involved in other theatres of war. Some such were three naval pairings. These included Air Leasing's Seafire and The Fighter Collection's Corsair, which flew together on both days and also gave solo displays on Sunday. Another pair were Richard Grace in Hawker Fury SR661 and Brian Smith in The Fighter Collection's Grumman Bearcat. Once again, there was a drop-out on Sunday, when the Bearcat was unable to display, leaving Richard Grace to offer another stunning solo display in this most attractive of aircraft. The third naval pairing were Stu Goldspink in the The Fighter Collection's Wildcat and Plane Sailing's Catalina.
The show thus moved through early aircraft, to training aircraft, to naval aircraft and on to the Russian Front, where Aircraft Restoration Company's Hispano Buchon confronted a pair of Yakovlev Yak-3s: Will Greenwood in his Yak 3 and Richard Grace in Mark Davy's White 100. Airshow visitors are used to recreations of a German attack on a British Airfield and the subsequent inevitable allied victory. The scenario here was a similar concept but translated to Russia where pyrotechnics illustrated the effect when an airfield was strafed by a German fighter: the Buchon seen off not by Spitfires but by the Yak-3s. At one time the very rare 2-seat version of the Buchón was slated to appear at the show, possibly in this section, but unfortunately the prediction was a little optimistic as the aircraft was not airshow-ready in time.
Not unusually, there were a number of aircraft listed to appear that could not display for a variety of reasons. The loss of two Mustangs from the programme followed a more unfortunate incident. Under the theme of American Heavy aircraft there were to be a couple of Skytrains and Sally B accompanied by a pair of 'little friends' in the form of Mustangs 'The Shark' and 'Miss Helen'. However, when moving into formation at the west of the airfield, there appeared to be some uncertainty as to which of the Mustangs would fly on which side of Sally B and as a result there was a coming together. The propeller of the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation's aircraft appeared to take a bite from Miss Helen, which declared a 'Mayday'. Of course, we must await the outcome of the proper investigation before we know what caused the accident but thankfully the outcome was that, although there was a sudden loss of height, both Mustangs recovered and landed safely. The pair inevitably took no further part in the displays on either day of the weekend, leaving the Skytrain pair, from Aces High and Dakota Heritage, and Sally B to display without escort.
The only display by jet aircraft featured the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron's MiG-15 and de Havilland Vampire pair. In the absence of a fully aerobatic display, because of continuing safety restrictions on ex-military jet aircraft, the display was limited to flypasts but even so was able to demonstrate the grace and manoeuvrability of these early propellerless types. (... continued below the pictures)
The September airshow at Duxford appears destined to retain the Battle of Britain theme. It has to be hoped that there is enough variety within the theme to instil some novelty into the proceedings in future years. Inevitably, there will be common elements and that is to be applauded when those elements are mass Spitfire flypasts or mass flypasts of other varieties. However, there is bound to be criticism if the rest of the line-up also follows a regular pattern of similar aircraft in a different order.
In a show that covers so much ground in a relatively few hours, it is not possible to cover every aspect of the battle, its build-up, or the aftermath, so there is room for the introduction of novel themes each year within a stable framework. Perhaps one area that may be ripe for exploitation at a future show, if the Battle of Britain theme continues, would be more of the non-Moth inter-war training types, not only from Britain but also from the continent and USA and perhaps a variation in the specific aircraft, albeit from the same era, especially from the continent.
The full flying list is in the table.
Hurricanes & Spitfires
Seven Hurricanes were at the show over the 2 days, including one from the BBMF and the Sea Hurricane.
There were also 14 Sea/Spitfires, including one from the BBMF and 3 Mk 1s.