Duxford 2019-Any military aviation devotees dream

By Willie Bodenstein and Juri Keyter

The second airshow on our international tour was 'Flying Legends' at Duxford and like the Shuttleworth collection, was a first for me. Juri however, has reported on the show for the last two years so at least I had a someone that could show me the ropes at what is probably the premier show in the world dedicated to military aviation.

A Swissair DC-3 and some of the early morning visitors.

Making our way to the American Museum. The British Aerospace museum is in the background.

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire is Britain's largest aviation museum. Besides Duxford that houses the museum's large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels in seven main exhibition buildings, the site is also home too several British Army regimental museums.

The field filling up with some of the aircraft on the flight line in the background.

The site was originally operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the First World War. During the Second World War, Duxford played a prominent role during the Battle of Britain and was later used by United States Army Air Forces fighter units in support of the daylight bombing of Germany. Duxford remained an active RAF airfield until 1961. After the Ministry of Defence declared the site surplus to requirements in 1969, the Imperial War Museum received permission to use part of the site for storage. The entire the site was transferred to the museum in February 1976.

Just a tiny number of the huge display of aircraft in the ultra-modern American Museum Hanger.

Breakfast at the field.

We arrived twenty minutes before the gates were to open and having been issued with media passes and a parking ticket, we were inside the field without any problems and had breakfast. Then it was time to explore the hangers as well as the two Museums on which we will fully report in a future issue.

The Red Arrows, who opened the show, flew a flat display.

It was overcast with a low cloud base and except for a couple of times, the sun only made a brief appearance. Because of the low cloud base the Red Arrows, who opened the show, flew a flat display and what a brilliant display it was.

Fifteen Vickers Super Marine Spitfires flew at Duxford proving once more why Flying Legends is the premier Historical Military Aviation Show in the world.

Presented together with the Fighter Collection and the IWM (Imperial War Museum) the 27th edition of Flying Legends commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Flying Legends appropriately focused on the courage of those who took part in the largest combined naval, air and land operation in the history of warfare.

The Buchon's served with the Spanish Airforce from 1958 until 1969.

Representing the forces of the enemy was five Hispano HA-1112-MIL/M4L Buchons, a Spanish built version of the FW109. The Buchons, built in the 1950s were powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin 500/45 engine.

Two P-51s' and the Boeing B-17 celebrated the types contribution during WWII. Built in 1945 Sally B is still flying almost three quarters of a century later.

The North American P-51 Mustang was arguably one of the best fighters of WWII and the Boeing B-17 one the bombers that inflicted untold misery and damage to the infrastructure and assets of the German Forces. To celebrate this, two Mustangs one of the Norwegian Spitfire Association, one of Anglia Aircraft Restorations Limited as well as a B-17 Flying Fortress regaled the huge crowd.

The classic formation of three Beech 18s and a C-47.

The Classic's Formation C-47 and three Beech 18's were some of the more sedately aircraft to perform. The contribution of these grand ladies can never be underestimated.

The flight of the American Curtis quartet was to us one of the highlights as these aircraft are seldom seen at other shows.

The flight of Four of Curtisis's Hawks of the Fighter Collection was another of the unique acts based at Duxford. The Curtiss H-75 was a private venture which flew for the first time in May 1935. Following development and a new engine, three prototype aircraft were ordered by the US Army Air Corps under the designation Y1P-36. This eventually led to the P-36 lineage which went on to serve with around a dozen air arms. The P-40C and F Warhawks single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The types saw combat with the British Commonwealth squadrons of the Desert Air Force in the Middle East and North African campaigns during June 1941.

The Battle of Britain formation flight of a Blenheim, Lysander and three Spitfires were another of the mass formation that flew the dark overcast skies above Duxford on Saturday.

The Ultimate Fighters Team's P-47 Thunderbolt, Spitfire V, Buchon and TF-51D Mustang were a crowd favourite.

The Naval Aviation tribute consisted of a Bearcat, Corsair, Sea Fury, Catalina and Wildcat.

The Catalina, conceived as a long-range patrol bomber, first flew in 1935. The Plane Sailing Catalina displayed during the show was built in Canada in 1943.

Three C-47's and two L-5 Piper Cubs made up the Flying Legends D-Day Tribute Flight.

Flying legends is not just the name of the event, it is also the experience:- A day packed with the sounds of Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines, at times up to 26 WWII aircraft directly above us making this a day we will never forget. The show finale, appropriately named "the Balbo Finale" (named after Italo Balbo, an Italian Air Force General who led a mass of Italian aircraft on a transatlantic flight from Italy to Brazil in the early 30's) featured, among others, Spitfires, Mustangs, Buchons, a Wildcat, a Bearcat, Sea Fury and a Thunderbolt.

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