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DUXFORD – Flying Legends 8/9 July

Andrew Bates reports: Once again, Flying Legends at Duxford was the highlight on the warbird calendar. Main highlight this year was the eight Spitfire scramble at the start of the show - they remained aloft for a considerable time, chasing each other across the airfield, performing low level ‘beat-ups’ of the flightline and certainly starting the flying display in fine style. Similarly, the four Hurricane scramble was just as impressive, even with half the amount managed by the Spitfires, and must surely be the first time in many years that this number have been seen flying together at an airshow. If only the two BBMF examples had been present as well - although I suppose that’s just being plain greedy! This quartet included the display debut of recently restored AE977/G-TWTD, which is actually a Sea Hurricane X, but has been painted to represent the aircraft of Sir Douglas Bader during the Battle of Britain, with the codes LE-D.

The USAAF selection also stood out, with firstly the TFC B-25D Mitchell being joined by the Dutch based Duke of Brabant AF B-25J, the latter sporting it’s new Dutch East Indies colour scheme, complete with some superb, but politically incorrect nose art. Both aircraft were really put through their paces, showing an almost fighter-like quality, despite their bomber ancestry. Then the two Mitchells were immediately followed by the magnificent sight of two B-17s flying together. French based B-17G ‘Pink Lady’ made a welcome return, after displaying last year, to fly alongside ‘Sally B’, a feat that was obviously not possible during last season.

The event was well supported once again by the French warbird community, and included a pair of recent imports from the USA; F-8F Bearcat 121748/F-AZRJ painted in Armée de l’Air markings as ‘5384’, and P-51D Mustang 44-74427/F-AZSB painted in the markings of ‘411622’ named Nooky Booky IV, the aircraft of Major ‘Kit’ Carson from the 357th FG, who finished the war with 15 kills to his credit.

Other interesting participants included a return visit of Fiat G.59-4B MM53774/I-MRSV all the way from Parma, Italy, whilst another Dutch based aircraft sporting some more politically incorrect nose art was A-26C Invader 44-35710/N7705C. Sadly, this went ‘tech’ on the Sunday, and remained grounded for the display.

Prior to the flying, there were a number of other new exhibits to see within the various Duxford hangars. Most notably, the new Battle of Britain exhibition included newly restored Bf109E 1190, which is displayed to depict its crash landing in Sussex during September 1940. Just opposite is Hurricane ‘Z2315’, an aircraft that arrived at Duxford as a salvaged wreck from Russia. It is now restored to its former glory in 111 Squadron marks as ‘JU-E’.

On a more modern theme, there was the recent addition of Royal Saudi AF Strikemaster Mk80 1133, fresh from refurbishment at Warton following donation from the Saudi government. The OFMC meanwhile had re-painted their Hunter T8C XF357/G-BWGL to represent the T7 prototype as ‘XJ615’.

Sunday's flying display featured a non-stop selection of group flypasts, featuring eight Spitfires; naval flypast (1) of two Bearcats/Tigercat/Sea Fury; Mercury engine flypast of a Blenheim/Lysander/Gladiator; Axis flypast of a Ju52/Bf108/Fiat G.59; the four Hurricanes; nine Tiger Moths (Diamond Nine) & RNHF Swordfish; P-63/P-40/Yak-3; WW1 formation of a SE5a/two Bristol F2B Fighters; naval flypast (2) of two Skyraiders/two Corsairs/Hellcat/Wildcat/Avenger; USAAF flypast with two B-25s/P-47, followed by two B-17s then finally six P-51s; mass finale, with a grand total of thirty-three warbirds airborne! Phew!


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