I once again found myself at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford for their September show on the Sunday. The weather was mixed with some heavy showers throughout the day but we were rewarded with some wonderful skies as well. Along the flightline walk there was a variety of aircraft in static display including Anna Walker’s CASA 1-131E Jungmeister, a Nieuport 17 Replica and one of the XtremeAir XA41s from The Matadors. Several aircraft were on static display that was due to display when I attended but were unable to for various reasons. The Royal Air Force’s Westland Sea King HAR Mk. 3A was called out on duties, the North American F-86A Sabre couldn’t display due to pilot illness and the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3 was unable to take of due to the wet runway.
Despite the low clouds the Royal Air Force kicked of the show in spectacular fashion with the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 which certainly bought the noise with a stunning demonstration of power with plenty of afterburner.
A smaller and significantly quieter aircraft took of next for its display, the LeVier Cosmic Wind “Ballerina” which performed a great aerobatic routine despite the worsening conditions.
Another aerobatic displayed next in probably the worst conditions of the day but still put on a great performance. This was Mark Jefferies flying his Extra EA-330SC which was designed specifically for competing in unlimited aerobatics. Upon landing the heavens opened and prevented anything else from displaying for a while.
Once the rain and cloud at cleared somewhat, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was able to make an appearance with the Avro Lancaster B.I and a pair of Supermarine Spitfires the LF. XVIE and one of the PR. XIXs. Unfortunately the trio had to hold off until the weather cleared and thus their display was reduced to some formation flypasts and solo display by the Griffon engine Spitfire before having to depart back to their home base at RAF Coningsby.
A regular airshow favourite, O’Brien’s Flying Circus took to the skies with a modified Piper J-3C-65 Cub to perform a very unorthodox display. This performance consisted of a variety of crazy flying and barnstorming antics as well as a successful truck top landing which also incorporated plenty of smoke and even some fireworks making this a very entertaining spectacle to witness.
Radial engine warbirds were the major theme behind the next sequence of displays. Starting down the runways was a bomber paring of the Duxford based Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B” and the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight’s North American B-25J Mitchell “Sarinah”. The bombers flew in loose formation for several passes before separating so “Sally B” could perform her solo routine. The Mitchell returned with Groupe Fennec’s North American T-28A Fennec and the pair of put on a very tight formation display before a great break at crowd centre where the Mitchell departed to attend other duties. The Fennec was then joined by another of its type, a North American AT-28D Trojan which is owned by Radial Revelations and the two radial aircraft performed a stunning display of power and bought this excellent segment of flying to a close.
Next up was one of the stars of the show arriving in formation with red, white and blue smoke. The French Air Force’s national aerobatic team, the Patrouille de France fly eight brightly coloured Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet Es who are celebrating their 60th Anniversary as a team. The team have visited Duxford on several occasions but this year saw a major improvement with their display which was far more dynamic and exciting and was certainly one of the highlights of the show.
An early World War Two dogfight was performed next with the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA and the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Hispano HA-1112-M1L Buchon who flew in formation before the pair demonstrated the role of aerial combat.
We then return to some aircraft that Duxford is very famous for displaying, the Supermarine Spitfire. A total of six of these aircraft were featured in this scramble including a Mk. IA, a pair of LF. VBs from the Fighter Collection and the Historic Aircraft Collection, the Old Flying Machine Company’s LF. IXB, the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight’s LF. IXC and the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Mk. IXT. The Spitfires started the routine in ‘Vic’ formations before separating to perform an epic tailchase before the Mk. IA performed a graceful solo display to close the display segment just as the heavens opened up again.
During the heavy showers the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight’s North American B-25J Mitchell “Sarinah” returned for a solo display in appalling weather but put on very impressive performance.
The Fighter Collection made another appearance in the flying programme with a pair of aircraft used by the United States Navy, the Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat and Grumman FM-2 Wildcat which has recently returned to airworthiness. The pair flew in formation for a single pass before performing their own solo displays with the Bearcat standing out most whilst the Wildcat was a bit distant at times.
Classic jets were the flavour of the next item in the form of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron’s pairing of a De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.52 and a De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.55 which performed a fantastic formation routine and it was great to see them flying over Duxford again.
The Royal Air Force returned with a display from their Shorts Tucano T.1 which wore a desert camouflage livery to commemorate No. 72(R) Squadron’ work in North Africa during the Second World War. The military trainer put on a great display with many photogenic passes.
The finale for the show was probably the most eagerly anticipated by the majority of the crowd and was bought to us by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. The nine BAe Hawk T.1As trailed their trademark red, white and blue smoke and performed a flawless routine and thoroughly demonstrated their expertise in both formation flying and aerobatic manoeuvres and bought this excellent show to a close.
The 2013 show certainly had some rough moments due to the weather and was a great shame to lose some of the participants due to pilot illness or the weather. I think the main highlights of this show was certainly the two national aerobatic teams but credit should also go to the pair of De Havilland Vampires of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Historic Squadron and the Supermarine Spitfires that took part in the scramble. Overall all the show was highly entertaining and enjoyable but only marred by weather conditions that couldn’t be avoided.
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