Every year, the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford Airfield hosts a number of air shows. The event in September, billed as the Battle Of Britain Air Show, commemorates that event in WW2 and remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice during that battle. The airfield is the former RAF Duxford and was the wartime home to many of the Battle of Britain squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires whose job it was to protect the south east of England.
The air show this year was even more poignant as, just two days before, HM Queen Elizabeth II passed away. To mark her long reign, over 70 years, the crowd observed a two minute silence, which was broken at the end by a flypast and display by a solo Spitfire. In all the years I have been attending air shows or worked on airfields, I have never experienced such quiet as this, and as the solo Spitfire flew in, many were drying their eyes, and I had a lump in my throat. Yes, it was very emotional.
The rest of the display continued in the same theme of remembrance and commemoration. I have put some of the best images together in a “storyboard” of the days events.
Part of the permanent static display at IWM Duxford, this BAe146 of No.32 The Royal Sqn was closed to the public as a mark of respect for the Queen, but someone had tied floral tributes to the aircraft steps. A nice touch.
Spitfire PRX1 of the Aircraft Restoration Company taxis out in preparation for the solo flypast and display to mark the passing of HM The Queen. This aircraft, owned by The Aircraft Restoration Company, has “Thank U NHS” painted on the underside as it performed flypasts in support of NHS staff during and just after the lockdowns. It is now raising funds for NHS Charities Together.
Solo Spitfire flypast and display
Blenheim, 2 x Lysanders and a Gloster Gladiator
Westland Lysander lands after the display
Spitfire Mk 5b of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAF)
4 x Hurricane on static display prior to their finale flypast
Boeing B17 “Flying Fortress” – “Sally B” a regular at UK Air shows since 1982. The aircraft is based at IWM Duxford and is owned and run by B17 Preservation, a group of volunteers and members.
Sally B Landing after its display.
Although it did not rain until late afternoon, storm clouds were around. I captured this image of 2 Spitfires and a rainbow during a lull in the flying.
One of 9 Tiger Moths displaying on the day. It was used as the RAF’s basic flying training aircraft from the 1930’s until the 1950’s and nearly 9000 were built, of which over 250 are still flying around the world today..
Grumman Wildcat owned by the Fighter Collection. A nimble little fighter which saw service in European and Pacific theatres with the RN and US Navy.
Curtis Hawk owned by The Fighter Collection. Obsolete by the start of WW2 nevertheless nearly 400 were supplied to the French Air Force but transferred to the RAF when France fell.
Two images of Spitfire MkXIV from the Aircraft Restoration Company.
A visitor from the Czech Republic a Mil Mi 24V/35 helicopter – Nato designation “Hind”. Russian in design it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1972 and formed the backbone of its attack helicopter force. This was the last display by this helicopter in Czech Air Force colours as they are going out of service very soon.
Accompanying the Hind is the Mil Mi-17 Sh, NATO Codename Hip. Introduced in 1977 it is operated by over 60 countries as a Troop transport and medieval helicopter, although it can also carry the same weapon fit as its companion, the Hind.
Always an essential part of any Duxford Battle of Britain show are the “Re-Enactors”, a group of living historians dedicated to recreating the atmosphere and costumes of the age. This lady is dressed in the uniform of the Air Transport Auxiliary. These ladies were responsible for ferrying brand new aircraft from the factory to the squadrons.
These guys playing the role of pilots and ground crew relaxing, waiting for the word to “scramble”
Bloke on a Wobbly Bike! Dressed in Home Guard uniform, he was another of the living history re-enactors.
Spitfire Mk IX – This aircraft flew 51 combat missions over France in 1944 and finished service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force after the war. Seventy years on it was restored as the “Silver Spitfire” and demilitarised, having the gun ports and sights removed to enhance its lines. It is finished in polished aluminium which gives it the shine. This aircraft undertook a round the world flight in 2019 covering 27,000 miles in four months.
Spitfire Mk XVI in the colours of the 309th Fighter Squadron of the United States Army Air Force. Originally built in 1945 it was eventually assigned to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, serving until 1950 when it became a “Gate Guardian:” at an RAF base in UK.
Two Spitfires taking off to form part of a 20 aircraft flypast as a finale to the Air Show
16 Spitfires Flypast
16 Spitfires joined by 4 Hurricanes at the rear of the formation. Shortly after this flypast the airfield was deluged by a heavy rainstorm forcing the formation of 20 to scatter until it passed by.