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Flying Legends
Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - G-CCVH - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Bell P-39-Q6 Airacobra - G-CEJU - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk Vb - G-MKVB - Historic Aircraft Collection - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Hurricane Ib - G-BKTH - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom
De Havilland DH.90A Dragonfly - G-AEDU - Norman Aeroplane Trust - United Kingdom   Hawker Hind - G-AENP - Shuttleworth Collection - United Kingdom   Yakovlev Yak 3UA - D-FJAK - Germany - Privately Owned - Germany   Grumman F-8F-2P Bearcat - G-RUMM - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom
Grumman F-8F-2P Bearcat - G-RUMM - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom

Flying Legends 2008

Words and photographs by Mike Freer additional photography Stuart Freer.

Following the torrential downpours over the previous week, the weather at Duxford over the Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of July was mainly dry with sunny spells. Huge crowds attended this year’s Flying Legends display, no doubt added to by hundreds of European visitors who were hoping to attend the ill-fated Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford which had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

This year’s Flying Legends display was the largest one ever held with a mouth watering collection of classic warbird aircraft from the UK, Europe and the USA.

The sound of Rolls Royce Merlin and Griffin engines heralded the start of Flying Legends 2008 as nine Spitfires and an ex Spanish Air Force HA-1112 Buchon, masquerading as a Messerschmit Bf109 took off. It was not all that long ago that the sight of nine Spitfires in formation was unthinkable, but there they were flying around in tight formation before splitting into two groups of Merlin and Griffin engine variants. As the two formations swept in low over the airfield, the deep growl of the Rolls Royce Griffon distinguished it from its Merlin cousin.

Among the gathering of Spitfires were two of note. Firstly, the world’s only airworthy Spitfire Ia, AR213 operated by Sheringham Aviation, which has recently flown following a seven year rebuild by Personal Plane Services.

The other debutant was Spitfire F XVIII, SM969 of the Fighter Collection which appeared resplendent in 28 Squadron markings and Korean War recognition stripes. The aircraft is ex Indian Air Force and arrived with Doug Arnold’s Warbirds of Great Britain Collection during 1977. Since acquisition by the Fighter Collection during 2006, she has undergone an extensive two year restoration.

In addition to the HA-1112 Buchon, there then followed a display of Luftwaffe types in the shape of a Jungmann and the delightful Ju-52 D-CDLH and Messserschmit Bf108 D-EBEI of Lufthansa Traditionsflug.

The resident Fighter Collection was next to display their unique collection of US Navy carrier aircraft in the shape of the Grumman Cats, FM 2 Wildcat BuNo 86711, F6F-5K Hellcat BuNo 80141 and FG-1D Corsair BuNo 88297.


Two bombers from European collections next rumbled into the air to perform very spirited low level runs. North American B-25J Mitchell 44-29507 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight Foundation was joined by the Scandinavian Historic Flight A-26B Invader 44-34602. Both demonstrated amazing manoeuvrability for such large aircraft.

The Curtiss Hawk theme produced two “Firsts” at Flying Legends in the shape of P-40B Warhawk 41-13297 of the Fighter Collection. This is a genuine survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and is finished in an authentic colour scheme of that period. The other “new” Warhawk was Christian Amara’s P-40N variant, 42-105915, which flew in from France. Both these joined Curtis Hawk 75 No.82 painted in French Air Force markings and belonging to the Fighter Collection. Bell P-39Q Airacobra 42-29507 also joined in the fun.

No airshow is complete without the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight who performed with their Dakota along with a Spitfire and Hurricane. Douglas Dakota LN-WND of Foundation Dakota Norway made a very welcome appearance resplendent in her highly polished Aluminium finish.

The Thirties era British fighter theme consisted of a Spitfire, Hurricane along with the Shuttleworth Trust’s Sea Hurricane 1B Z5903 and Gloster Gladiator 1 L8032. The Fighter Collection’s Gloster Gladiator 11 N5903 was on the flightline painted in 72 Squadron markings, this unit being the first frontline Squadron to receive the Gladiator at RAF Hornchurch during 1937. Following a lengthy rebuild she flew for the first time during the spring of 2008 – the first time in sixty years.

The sight of three Boeing B-17G Flying Fortresses parked on the flightline was indeed unique and may never be seen again on this side of the Atlantic. The plan had been to fly all three in formation, but this was not to be. Boeing B-17G 44-85784 “Sally B” belonging to Elly Sallingboe (B-17 Preservation) has had a run of bad luck just recently. A replacement engine was fitted over the winter months, but this failed during a test run. A replacement engine was procured in the USA, but this also failed during its first test flight. She sat on the flightline looking rather forlorn with only three working engines. Sat alongside “Sally B” was “Pink Lady”, a B-17G (44-8846) over from France belonging to Association Fortresse Toujours Volant en France.

The “star” of the show was undoubtly Boeing B-17G 44-85734 “Liberty Belle” owned by Don Brooks and operated by his Liberty Foundation. The aircraft had been flown over from the USA via Canada, Greenland and Iceland to appear at Flying Legends and other events.

Douglas A-26B Invader - N167B - Scandinavian Historic Flight - Norway
Curtiss P-40B Warhawk - G-CDWH - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   North American P-51D Mustang - F-AZSB - Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis - France   Douglas C-53D Skytrooper - LN-WND - Dakota Norway - Norway   Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk - F-AZKU - Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis - France
Jünkers Ju-52/3m - D-CDLH - Deutschen Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung - Germany   Hispano HA-1112-M1L Buchón - G-BWUE - Spitfire Ltd. - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXb - G-ASJV - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   Goodyear FG-1D Corsair - G-FGID - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom

The aircraft is painted in the markings of the original “Liberty Belle” which flew with the 390th Bomb Group member of the 8th Air Force based at Framlington airfield situated near Ipswhich.. Don’s father, Elton Brooks’, flew as a tail gunner in her before returning to the USA after 36 missions. The Liberty Foundation was set up by Don to honour his father and also the thousands who served in the 390th.

“Pink Lady” and “Liberty Bell” flew a scintillating display along with the Fighter Collection’s TF-51D Mustang 44-84847 “Miss Velma” acting as escort fighter. This included some very low runs. The 8th Air Force theme continued with a mass take off and airfield “beat up” of a number of P-51D Mustangs plus a pair of Piper Cub spotter planes.

In amongst all this heavy metal, there were lighter moments such as the Dragon theme which consisted of delightful displays made by classic De Havilland designs of the 1930s in the form of the Dragonfly, Dragon and Rapide.

Also from this era were three Hawker Biplanes in the “Silver Wings” theme. The Shuttleworth Collection’s Hawker Hind in the markings of K5414 of 15 Squadron appeared along side two Hawker Nimrod naval fighters. Both of these aircraft have interesting histories. The remains of Hawker Nimrod1 S1581 of the Fighter Collection were discovered in Cowley’s scrapyard at Hounslow during the early 1970s and donated to the RAF Museum. These remains were purchased by Aero Vintage during 1994 and a serious rebuild was undertaken. She flew again during 2000 and became part of the Fighter Collection during 2004. She now flies in the markings of 802 Naval Air Squadron.

Hawker Nimrod K3661 of the Historic Aircraft Collection was unceremoniously discarded at the Municipal Dump at Ashford in Kent during the war. Amazingly, the wreckage was discovered during 1972 and donated to the RAF Museum. Aero Vintage acquired the remains during 1991 and restoration work commenced. It flew again at Duxford on 16th November, 2006.

Another “star” of this year’s Flying Legends was Yak-3UA D-FJAK operated by Chris Vogelgesang which is based at Bremgarten. This is a new build aircraft which was built at Strela in Orenburg on the Russian-Kazakh border in the early 1990s. It was the result of co-operation between the Yakovlev Design Burea, Strela and Flight Magic, Santa Monica, California.

The author wishes to thank Mrs. Tracey Woods of the Imperial War Museum for the hospitality on these fantastic organized days.

Grumman F-6F-3 Hellcat - G-BTCC - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress - F-AZDX - Association Forteresse Toujours Volante - France   North American P-51D-N-20 Mustang - G-BIXL - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Piper L-4J Grasshopper - G-RRSR - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
Hawker Nimrod II - G-BURZ - Historic Aircraft Collection - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (w/o 13-06-2011) - N817BR - Flying Tigers Warbird Museum - United States   Gloster Gladiator Mk II - G-GLAD - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   North American TF-51D Mustang - NX251RJ - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (w/o 13-06-2011) - N817BR - Flying Tigers Warbird Museum - United States
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