RAF Cosford Airshow 2017 Review (Static)

The next show of the season that I attended was my first visit to the RAF Cosford Airshow, home to the fantastic Royal Air Force Museum Cosford which I visited the day prior to the event. This review will cover the aircraft in the large and varied static display beginning with those featured in the themes of the show.

The major operational theme of the show was Battlefield Support, showcasing the how

The next show of the season that I attended was my first visit to the RAF Cosford Airshow, home to the fantastic Royal Air Force Museum Cosford which I visited the day prior to the event. This review will cover the aircraft in the large and varied static display beginning with those featured in the themes of the show.

The major operational theme of the show was Battlefield Support, showcasing the how airpower from both the past and the present supports soldiers on the ground. The Royal Air Force provided a varied selection of types for this theme including the Cosford debut of the Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 from No. 70 Squadron which is used for transport and airlift roles. Cosford is also home to several ex-military jets that would have been used to support troops on the ground. These included numerous examples of the SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1s and GR.3s as well as a trio of Panavia Tornados including a singular GR.1 and a pair of GR.4s. These jets are now used as instructional airframes for No. 1 School of Technical Training which is part of the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering. One of the most famous support aircraft was also on display in the form of a Hawker-Siddeley Harrier GR.3 from the Airshow Office of RAF Cosford. There was also a rotary support aircraft on display, the Westland Puma HC Mk. 2 from No. 230 Squadron which arrived in the morning to take pride of place on the flightline.

The British Army also provided some items for the support theme with an Agusta-Westland WAH-64D Apache AH Mk. 1 from No. 656 Squadron, a type currently used to assist troops with a wide assortment of weapons. Another type on display was a Thales Watchkeeper WK045, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that was used in the ISTAR role up until late 2014.

The Royal Air Force Museum usually bring several of the exhibits outside for the airshow and this year was no exception with the BAe Harrier GR.9 being bought out among some of the other aircraft. There was also a great collection of monoplane types that were used as support aircraft including the UK debut of the Cessna O-2A Skymaster from the Postbellum Foundation which is believed to have participated in the Vietnam War. There was also a pair of Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs on display with an O-1D in United States Air Force colours among the other displays and an O-1E in French colours on the flightline. British support aircraft were represent by two Austers featuring Kevin Hale’s AOP.6 and Peter Gill’s AOP.9. Finishing the line-up was a Piper J-3C-65 Cub provided by Mark Robertson.

The other theme of the show was International Co-operation, working together with other allied nations in both combat missions and training. The show featured some aircraft from overseas in the static display including a Eurocopter EC135 P2 from the Irish Air Corps and part of No. 3 Operations Wing. But it was the Italian Air Force that stole the spotlight with an Alenia C-27J Spartan from 311 Gruppo Volo of the Reparte Sperimentale Volo which also served as the support aircraft from the Tornado IDS in the flying display.

There was also a large number of other aircraft on display for the show.

The Royal Air Force still has a number of ex-military jets on display at Cosford including several SEPECAT Jaguars including some T.4 training variants and a pair of T.2As which operated by QinetiQ which were only retired fairly recently. Cosford also houses the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier T.4 VAAC also operated by QinetiQ which was used to test out concepts of the Joint Strike Fighter Programme. The Royal Air Force also provided a selection of rotary types including one of No. 32(TR) Squadron’s new Agusta-Westland AW109SPs. The Defence Helicopter Flying School also bought over some assets, a familiar Eurocopter AS350BB Squirrel HT.1 and its eventual successor the Eurocopter EC135 T3 Juno HT.1 makings its UK debut at the show. There was also some training aircraft of the fixed wing variety on display, featuring a Beechcraft B200 King Air from No. 45(R) Squadron, a Grob G-115E Tutor T.1 from the Liverpool University Air Squadron and a pair of Shorts Tucano T.1s from No. 72(R) Squadron which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this season.  

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm was also present at the show with an Agusta-Westland AW101 Merlin HM Mk. 1 and an Agusta-Westland AW159 Wildcat HMA.2 from 824 Naval Air Squadron and 825 Naval Air Squadron respectively. Also on show was a BAe Sea Harrier FA.2 currently on loan from the Fleet Air Arm Museum and used by the School of Flight Deck Operations.

Classic jets were also present with the Royal Air Force Museum’s BAe EAP, the prototype of the now operational Eurofighter Typhoon. Jet Aerobatics also provided a BAC Jet Provost T.5 trainer as well as its predecessor, the Percival P.56 Provost T.1 from the YeoPro Group and another trainer of the era, the Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 owned by James Lewis. Another exhibit from the museum was a Westland Wessex HC Mk. 2 resplendent in Royal Air Force search and rescue colours. There was also a pair of restored cockpits on display from an English Electric Lightning F.6 and a Hawker-Siddeley HS.125.

 

A singular warbird was put on display between the hangars in the form of a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC from the Royal Air Force Museum.

RAFCosfordAirshowStatic2017-59
Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC

The Midlands Air Ambulance made an appearance with one of their Eurocopter EC135 T2+ air ambulance helicopters. The RAF Cosford Flying Club also put on a small display with four of their aircraft including a Bolkow Bo-208C Junior, a pair of Piper PA-28-161 Warrior IIs and a Piper PA-28-181 Archer II.

The Cosford Airshows static display was certainly varied with some real highlights including the dominating presence of the Royal Air Force’s Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 and Italian Air Force’s Alenia C-27J Spartan. Also worthy of mention was the UK debuts of the Postbellum Foundation’s Cessna O-2A Skymaster and the Defence Helicopter Flying School’s new Eurocopter EC135 T3 Juno HT Mk. 1. I hope to return to the Cosford show next year for the Royal Air Force Centenary celebrations next year and hopefully the static display will be as packed as this year.

 

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