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  Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow - Duxford, Cambridgeshire 19th September 2015


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Glorious late summer skies and an incredible finale made the 2015 IWM Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow one of the most magical and memorable events I have attended.

The sell-out crowds were treated to a plethora of warbirds, starting with an airfield attack from a pair of ‘Bf109’ Buchons from the Aircraft Restoration Company and Richard Lake in concert with Nord 1002 Pingouin G-ATBG in full Luftwaffe markings. The perpetrators were soon seen off by Hurricane MkI R4118 and one of an increasing number of immaculate MkI restorations, Spitfire N3200 flown by Dave Ratcliffe who went on to fly a beautiful solo display amongst an ever changing light-drenched cloudscape.

We were then treated to the sight of three Hawker Hurricanes in formation with Bristol Blenheim Mk.I L6739 G-BPIV which was coming to the end of its first display season after a lengthy return to flight operation. The sight and sound of these early war machines certainly stirred the emotions, the fact that Blenheim crews were still going out on offensive missions throughout the Battle of Britain and taking heavy casualties being an aspect of the period that is often overlooked.

The next highlight was a formation flypast by two USAF F-15E Strike Eagles from the 494th FS, 48th FW at RAF Lakenheath with the Commanche Fighters pair of Spitfire MkIs Piloted by Dan Freidkin and Paul Bonhomme. This was to commemorate the nine American pilots who flew during the Battle.

The early model Spitfires then went onto perform an enthralling sequence of paired aerobatics, the graceful elliptical wings of the Spitfires drawing some unforgettable images against the continuing drama of the sky.

Another highlight was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s ‘Big Wing’ formation which saw all six currently airworthy fighters performing together on the Sunday and flying in formation with the Red Arrows, with five machines airborne on the Saturday, it being a rare occurrence indeed to see all these aircraft airborne together.

All too soon the end of the show beckoned but what a finale it was. As the sound of 17 Rolls Royce Merlin and Griffon engines pulsated and throbbed through our bodies, a Wing sized assembly of Spitfires taxied out and began to take off in a seeming endless crescendo of noise. As the last Spitfire clawed into the air a silence hung over the airfield until soon, a series of specks approached from the east, specks that metamorphosed into Mitchell’s finest in a large balbo formation that made two passes along the display line before the machines broke off into a series of tailchases that will live in my memory forever.

Crazily many people had already left the show and I remember my two boys having all the space they needed to run round and whoop for joy as the sky above them was filled with swooping, sunlit fighters and the growling rasp of aero-engines. It was a sheer spectacle topped off by golden early evening light and, as the Spitfires began to break off and land we were treated to the sight of these magnificent machines taxiing past until the last one was in and the last engine shut down. The wide eyes and massive grins all around were testament to the magic that we had just witnessed. What a show!

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