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Duxford Autumn Air Show
 
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United Kingdom

Duxford Autumn Air Show

Report by Mike Freer

Following a successful year of activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Autumn Air Show honoured the role played by the United States Air Force during the Second World War and in particular, that of Duxford airfield.

RAF Duxford was handed over to the United States 8th Air Force in April 1943, becoming Base 357 and headquarters of the 78th Fighter Group. The Group flew P-47 Thunderbolts which were later replaced with P-51D Mustangs in December 1944. It provided fighter escorts to the large US bomber raids against targets in Europe and Germany itself. Such raids were conducted by the 91st Bombardment Group, among other units, from nearby RAF Bassingbourn.

In addition to fighter escort duties, the 78th Fighter Group undertook low level sweeps over hostile territory and became adept at strafing targets – flying in at very low level to destroy ground installations, parked aircraft, trains etc.

Captain Charles London of the 83rd Fighter Squadron at Duxford became the first official 8th Air Force ‘ace’ when he destroyed five enemy aircraft.

On D-Day, 6th June 1944, the 78th Fighter Group Provided air cover for the Allied invasion fleet as it crossed the Channel. Later the Group took part in raids on railway targets ahead of the advancing ground troops. The Group was later heavily involved with Operation ‘Market Garden’, the airborne landings in the Netherlands, and was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for the number of sorties carried out.

The 78th Fighter Group also distinguished themselves by shooting down the first Messerschmitt 262 jet aircraft claimed by the 8th Air Force. By the end of the war, the 78th Fighter Group was credited with the destruction of 697 enemy aircraft either in the air or on the ground. RAF Duxford was officially handed back to the Royal Air Force on 1st December 1945.

As part of the overall USAAC/USAF theme was the celebration of the 65th birthday of B-17 Fortress ‘Sally B’. This much loved aircraft also celebrated her 35th year in the UK and 30 years of the Sally B Supporters Club along with 75 years of the B-17. The team behind Sally B is led by Elly Sallingboe, who is determined to keep her airworthy whatever the difficulties.

 
North American P-51D Mustang - G-BTCD - Old Flying Machine Company, The - United Kingdom   North American T-28S Fennec - N14113 - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom   Tucano T1 - ZF317/QJ-F - 72 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - XX263 - 208 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
North American F-86A Sabre - G-SABR - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Hawk FGA6 - WV908 - Royal Navy Historic Flight - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom   Boeing B-17G-105-VE  Flying Fortress - G-BEDF - B-17 Preservation Limited - United Kingdom
 
Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom
 
Supermarine Seafire F Mk XVII - G-KASX - Kennet Aviation - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Fury T20 - NX20MD - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Fury T20 - NX20MD - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Fury T20 - NX20MD - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom
 
Lynx HMA8 - ZD268/643 - 702 Naval Air Squadron - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm   Lynx HMA8 - XZ697/641 - 702 Naval Air Squadron - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm   Apache AH1 - Unknown - Army Air Corps   Apache AH1 - Unknown - Army Air Corps
 

As a tribute to the contribution to the defence of Europe made by the United States Air Force, both past and present, the air show commenced with a flypast comprising of B-17 ‘Sally B’ of B-17 Preservation accompanied by three P-51 Mustangs. P-51D ‘Ferocious Frankie’ of the Old Flying Machine Company flew in formation alongside ‘Miss Velma’, a TF-51D of the Fighter Collection and ‘Big Beautiful Doll’, an Australian built Mustang, owned by Rob Davies. The latter in the markings of Colonel John. D. Landers, Commanding Officer of the 78th Fighter Squadron while based at Duxford during the war. A pair of F-15C Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron from nearby RAF Lakenheath raced behind to catch up with the formation.

Continuing the USAF theme was a fine display of tight formation flying provided by a pair of Douglas DC-3 Dakotas. Both are genuine D Day veterans. ‘Drag-em-oot’ operated by Dakota Heritage still bears the scars of its wartime service with bullet holes still visible. The other D Day Dakota, operated by Wings Venture, arrived late at Duxford due to fog at its base at Kemble in Gloucestershire. The world’s oldest flying F-86 Sabre operated by Duxford based Golden Apple Operations completed the USAF theme illustrating the Korean War period.

There was a strong naval aviation theme both American and British. The US Navy was represented by Duxford based Consolidated Catalina of Plane Sailing and the Fighter Collection’s Grumman Bearcat along with their Sea Fury, while the Royal Navy Historic Flight flew their immaculate Sea Hawk.

Military training aircraft were featured ranging from a vintage pair of North American Harvards flown by the Duxford based Fighter Collection and the Aircraft Restoration Company to the present day Shorts Tucano of 72 Squadron, RAF Linton-on-Ouse and an Bae Hawk of 208 Squadron, RAF Valley. The pair of North American T-28 trainers flown by Radial Revelations and the Fennec Group was of interest. These had been converted by the French Air Force to undertake the ground attack role during the war in Algeria and became known as the Fennec in French service.

The military part of the show was rounded off by some helicopter displays flown by a AAC Boeing (Westland) Apache AH Mk1 from nearby Wattisham and the Royal Navy Black Cats display team of two Westland Lynx helicopters of 702 Naval Air Squadron from Yeovilton. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew their Hurricane to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

On a lighter note, the tempo was slowed down a little with displays of light civil aircraft ranging from The Cosmic Wind racer to a Piper Cub landing on top of a moving truck. All in all, a great end to the season.

North American T-28A Fennec - G-TROY - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Pitts S1/S2S - Unkown - Unknown   Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard III - G-BTXI - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Tucano T1 - ZF317/QJ-F - 72 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawker Hurricane IIc - PZ865 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
North American T-28S Fennec - N14113 - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom   North American T-28S Fennec - N14113 - Aircraft Restoration Co. - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Hawk FGA6 - WV908 - Royal Navy Historic Flight - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Hawk FGA6 - WV908 - Royal Navy Historic Flight - United Kingdom
 
United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Boeing PT-17 Kaydet - G-RJAH - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   Grumman F-8F-2P Bearcat - G-RUMM - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   North American F-86A Sabre - G-SABR - Golden Apple Operations Ltd. - United Kingdom   Commonwealth CA-18 Mustang 22 (w/o 10-07-2011) - G-HAEC - Woodchurch Warbirds - United Kingdom
 
Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom   Consolidated PBY5A Catalina - G-PBYA - Plane Sailing Catalina Operations - United Kingdom   United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Douglas C-47A Skytrain - N473DC - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom
 
Hawker Sea Fury T20 - NX20MD - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 

The finale to the Duxford 2010 flying display season was an outstanding success. It was a fine tribute to the huge contribution made by American air power during the Second World War and to those brave airmen that perished in the liberation of Europe. In particular, it celebrated one of the most iconic aircraft of this period; the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and that of one aircraft in particular – Duxford’s own ‘Sally B’ in her 65th year.

There was a good selection of historic aircraft on view along with a full B-17 re-enactor crew assembled around ‘Sally B’ creating a wartime airfield atmosphere. The flying display was well choreographed with an informative commentary provided by Colin Wilsher and Ben Dunnell - all this in glorious autumn sunshine. What better way to end the air show season.

The year ended on a high note for the Imperial War Museum at Duxford with 96,000 visitors attending their air shows throughout the year – a big improvement over the previous year. The planning has now commenced for the 2011 air show season and the following dates have now been released:

   - Spring Air Show:

Sunday 22nd May

   - Flying Legends:

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th July

   - The Duxford Air Show:

Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September

   - Autumn Air Show:

Sunday 16th October

The author wishes to thank Esther Blaine and Gabriela Obluda of the Imperial War Museum for their kind hospitality during his visit.

 
Touchdown Rating - 5 out of 5
 
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