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  Battle of Britain Air Show
  100 Years Royal Air Force
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Text:

Urs Schnyder

Pictures:

Urs Schnyder & Michael E. Fader

   

The Battle of Britain Airshow at Duxford would be the last big event to celebrate the centenary of the RAF. All the advance tickets were sold out long before the show which must be a new record.

As the summer and autumn had been exceptional, we were looking for a great airshow to close the season. The weather however had a surprise for everybody and it was a nasty one. The forecasts predicted bad weather for the weekend and unfortunately, they were very accurate. The Friday was very cold with strong winds and an occasional shower. Saturday started cloudy but otherwise reasonable. The flightline walk took place while it was still dry. 

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Mike E. Fader)

With the start of the flying program began a light drizzle which continued throughout the whole afternoon. It didnít have any consequences for the flying, except forming an unattractive grey background.

Sunday morning was however different. Heavy rain started early in the morning already and seemed to get stronger by the hour. As it was still raining at 12, we mentally prepared for a lost day without being able to take any pictures. Then, however a miracle happened. Thirty Minutes before the flying was to start, the rain stopped. With a delay of only 15 Minutes the airshow started and as the day went on, so did the weather improve.

Unfortunately, some aircraft were prevented from appearing on Sunday. All the Shuttleworth aircraft were missing, most likely due to the heavy rain that prevented them to transit from Old Warden to Duxford. The pictures in this report therefore reflect the weather during the weekend. From very dark grey to blue sky, everything was possible.

The opening of the airshow was a surprise. To the tunes of the RAF march past, 16 Tiger moths forming a figure 100 bravely battled the inclement weather.

   

From one War to another

 

The SE5a was one of only two aircraft that didnít make it to the show. The Bristol Fighter was therefore the sole representative of the first World War types. As it soldiered on in RAF service until 1932 it was of course also representing the post war years when the RAF hat to make do with what they had for lack of funds.

Representing the silver wings period and the naval branch of the RAF were two Hawker Nimrod fighters. The Gladiator was of course the last biplane fighter of the RAF and the only one to see combat in the second World War. Despite being obsolescent, it acquited itself rather well.

The only thing that the Lysander and the Gladiator had in common was the Mercury engine. The Lysander was one of those types that found employment in another role than originally designed for. Instead of army cooperation it was mainly used in clandestine flights to occupied countries to drop or pick up agents.

 

Bristol F.2b Fighter, G-AANM (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Bristol F.2b Fighter, G-AANM (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Hawker Nimrod, G-BURZ (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Hawker Nimrod, G-BURZ (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Gloster Gladiator, G-AMRK (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Gloster Gladiator, G-AMRK (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Westland Lysander IIIa G-AZWT(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Westland Lysander IIIa G-AZWT(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

At the beginning of the war the Bristol Blenheim and the Hawker Hurricane were the most numerous bomber and fighter. They formed the biggest part of the advanced air striking force in France in 1940.

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

The Battle of Britain

 

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was in high demand throughout the whole year and must have accumulated more flying hours than in all previous years. That it is very popular was shown at the Royal Flypast in London where the BBMF earned the greatest applause of all participating formations.

I had the impression that the way they displayed this year was different from previous years, when they usually banked away from the audiences and generally kept a greater distance. This time, you actually got a chance to see the top of the aircraft, and not just the underside. Great, I hope they keep this up. Long may they continue to fly!

 

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Avro Lancaster of the BBMF (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Avro Lancaster of the BBMF (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Avro Lancaster of the BBMF (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Supermarine Spitfire (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Hawker Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Hawker Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Avro Lancaster (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Avro Lancaster of the BBMF (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Avro Lancaster of the BBMF (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Spitfire Lancaster and Hurricane (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

The Dambusters

 

A unique formation was the Lancaster flanked by the Tornado and the Lightning II, celebrating No. 617 Squadron, the Dambusters. As the Tornado will be retired from service in 2019, this was a last opportunity to see them all flying together. After the formation flypast, the Tornado and Lightning did a flypast together after which each of the jets did a single pass.

Having seen the Lightning, I very much doubt that it will arouse the same emotions as the Lancaster does.

 

The Dambuster (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Lockheed Lightning, Avro Lancaster and Panavia Tornado (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Lockheed Lightning and Panavia Tornado (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Lockheed Lightning and Panavia Tornado (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

Lockheed Lightning and Panavia Tornado (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Panavia Tornado (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Lockheed Lightning of No. 617 Sqn (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Lockheed Lightning of No. 617 Sqn (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Prop driven Trainers Past and Present

Trainers are normally the most numerous types in any air forces inventory. Fittingly, there was a good selection of trainers that had served in the RAF. From the Avro Tutor in the colours of the Central Flying School to the Grob Tutor of today, one could see the development and the changes in training philosophy. Different designs catered for different stages in the training of new pilots, while it seems that tandem seating was just as common as side by side seating.

   

Grob Tutor T.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Percival Provost  (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

North American Harvard  (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

(Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

North American Harvard  (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

Percival Prentice (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Scottish Aviation Bulldog (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Scottish Aviation Bulldog (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Miles Magister and DeHavilland Tiger Moth (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

Miles Magister (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Miles Magister (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

DeHavilland Tiger Moth (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Prenrice and Bulldo (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

Grob Tutor T.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Grob Tutor T.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Grob Tutor T.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Grob Tutor T.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Up to Date

As the main theme of the airshow was the centenary of the RAF, it would have been strange had they not sent in some of their current hardware.

A Typhoon from No. 29 Squadron gave the solo display. As this was right at the beginning of the airshow, where thick grey clouds dominated, it was a grey in grey affair except for the 100 years logo on the tail of the Typhoon.

No. 29 Squadron also provided the flypast in a twoship formation, while the Airbus A400M Atlas heavy transport made an appearance by doing a low pass over the airfield. The only aircraft that didnít make it to Duxford was the Voyager KC Mk.2. This was due to operational reasons according to the speaker.

 

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

 

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

   

BAe Thypoon FGA.4 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Airbus Atlas C.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

Airbus Atlas C.1 (Picture courtesy Urs Schnyder)

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