Old timers round-up: RIAT celebrates RAF100, formations at Flying Legends, Yeovilton and more
- Credit: Peter R March
We round up the latest historic aircraft displays and restoration news. This month features RIAT 2018, RAF100 celebrations over London, RNAS Yeovilton, Flying Legends Airshow and much more | Compiled by Peter R March and Paul Fiddian
RIAT celebrates RAF100
As the official ‘international’ RAF100 commemoration, some three years in the making, much was expected of RIAT 2018. A full three-day air tattoo, held at a mainly dry and sunny RAF Fairford on 13-15 July, largely hit the mark with the record 185,000-strong crowd.
Despite the loss of several star participants, 302 aircraft took part, coming from 43 air arms across 30 nations. The ground portion of Friday’s Royal Review, conducted by HRHs The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent, went off successfully but local thunderstorms unfortunately caused the fifty-aircraft flypast to be cancelled. The weekend’s other special formations proceeded as planned, however.
Leading the way was the RAF BBMF’s special ‘Trenchard-Plus’ formation on Saturday, with the Lancaster, Dakota, three Spitfires and both Hurricanes making several memorable flybys. For this display and its ‘Trenchard’ four-ship formation on Sunday, the flight was justly awarded the King Hussein Memorial Sword for the best overall flying demonstration.
Additional RAF100 formations saw the Lancaster flanked by a soon-to-retire Tornado GR4 and a recently delivered F-35B Lightning II, to honour No 617 Squadron’s legacy and future, and a diamond nine flypast of Typhoons from RAF Coningsby.
The Great War Display Team’s seven WWI replicas did well to keep the action flowing along Fairford’s lengthy display line. Further historic RAF representation was supplied by the Norwegian AF Historical Squadron’s splendid Vampire FB6 and T55 pair.
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The contemporary RAF’s solo Typhoon FGR4, Chinook HC6A and Tutor T1 displays were less impressive but the Red Arrows were on award-winning form, taking the Steedman Display Sword for the best flying demonstration by a UK participant.
The other award recipients represented a good cross-section of the Tattoo’s aerial pot pourri. The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for the best individual flying demonstration was awarded to the Finnish AF F/A-18C Hornet, and the Paul Bowen Trophy?recognising the best solo fast jet display?went to the Turkish AF’s F-16C Solotürk.
The Royal Canadian AF Hornet Demo Team did not triumph in the flying stakes but received the best livery award, while the RCAF’s overall contribution?CF-188 and static LM CC-130J Hercules, Boeing CC-177 Globemaster III and Bell CH-146 Griffon?won the Chief Executive’s Trophy. The Royal Jordanian Falcons’ revived routine in their new Extra EA330LXs deservedly won them the RAFCTE Trophy for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant. Finally, FRIAT’s choice?the As The Crow Flies Trophy?went to the French AF’s sharp Couteau Delta Mirage 2000D tactical demonstration team.
Other flying highlights included the outstanding Belgian AF F-16AM and French AF Rafale C displays, powerful Czech and Swedish JAS 39C Gripens, the Finnish Army’s well-presented NH90 TTH, the French Navy’s Rafale M pair and the precision and spectacle of Italy’s Frecce Tricolori, Spain’s Patrulla Aguila and the Swiss PC-7 Team.
The USAF’s ‘Heritage Flight’ comprised a 56th FW F-35A Lightning II, and Comanche Fighters’ P-51D Mustang The Hun Hunter\Texas and Spitfire LF Vc JG891. On the Saturday there was a surprise item?a USAF B-2A Spirit with an F-15 Eagle on its wingtips made a single flypast while on a non-stop ‘Global Reach’ flight from and to Whiteman AFB, Missouri.
Examples of virtually all serving RAF types were on static display, notably a rarely-seen Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint from No 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington. An MQ-9C SkyGuardian RPA (Remotely-Piloted Aircraft), planned for RAF service as the ‘Protector’, provided a taste of the future after making history flying from North Dakota’s Grand Forks AFB.
It became the first civilian-registered UAV to cross the Atlantic, when it touched down on Fairford’s Runway 09 at 1851 on 10 July, taking 24hr 2min for the flight.
The earliest RAF types included a Sopwith Camel replica from Bianchi Aviation Film Services and, from the same era, the WWI Aviation Heritage Trust’s BE2e recreation. HAC’s Hawker Fury and the Shuttleworth Collection’s Tiger Moth, Tutor and Spitfire LF Vc represented the pre-war and WWII RAF, while Martin-Baker’s Meteor T7 WA638 and Hawker Hunter Aviation’s F58As ZZ190 and 191?the latter in newly-applied ‘digital’ camouflage?represented the early-generation jets.
Making another stop on its well-received UK tour, the Flying Bulls Sycamore joined Whirlwind HAR10 XJ729, Pembroke C1 WV740 and a clutch of Jet Provosts, Chipmunks and a Bulldog in an RAF training and support aircraft line.
Beyond the RAF100 theme lay a typically rich and diverse Air Tattoo static park. Newcomers included the Italian AF’s HH-101A CaeSAR tactical helicopter, now-regular supporter the JASDF’s impressive Kawasaki C-2 airlifter and, from manufacturer Embraer, the similar-looking but smaller KC-390 tanker/transport. Among the other large aircraft on show were Austrian, Jordanian, Omani, Pakistani and Polish AF Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs from the RCAF, USAF and, for the first time, NATO’s Heavy Airlift Wing.
Further USAF involvement included a B-1B Lancer, the specialised HC-130N Combat King and MC-130J Commando II Hercules variants and an immaculate HH-60G Pave Hawk that won a Concours d’Elegance trophy. The Ukrainian contingent, as in 2017, comprised a static Ilyushin Il-76 plus single- and two-seat Su-27 ‘Flankers’, the former flying each day. Another Eastern European air arm, the Estonian Air Force, went to extraordinary lengths to attend, with its An-2 making a marathon 24-hour round-trip.
Summing up RIAT 2018, RAFCTE Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: “This year’s airshow has been many years in the planning and I think my team, including our amazing army of 1,500 volunteers, has really delivered something special to the nation.” RIAT 2019 will celebrate NATO’s seventieth anniversary on 19-21 July 2019.
Report: Paul Fiddian
London Celebrates RAF100
The RAF100 National Aircraft Tour made its second of six stops in London from 6-9 July. Positioned on Horse Guards Parade were nine aircraft, covering WWI right up to the present day and beyond, which had been roaded in from across the UK and reassembled on site.
The oldest design on show was the Yorkshire Air Museum’s Blackburn-built RFC BE2c. Next to it sat the RAF Museum’s Spitfire LF XVIe ‘TB675’ (RW393) and, out in front, C-47B Dakota ‘KG374’ (KP208) which normally guards Merville Barracks, Colchester.
The Tangmere Military Aviation Museum provided world air speed record-setting Meteor F4 EE549, while the RAFM’s second contribution was Harrier GR3 XZ997. Tornado GR4 ZG773 – a Warton-based trials platform – and Chinook HC4 ZA680 from RAF Odiham rounded out the ‘real’ aircraft; the final two – a Typhoon and F-35 Lightning - being full-scale models.
Eyes turned skywards at 1300 on 10 July for the RAF100 commemorative flypast. Separated by thirty-second intervals, twenty sections passed over London’s Mall beginning with a rotary flight of three Pumas and six Chinooks and ending with the Red Arrows streaming red, white and blue smoke.
Formations of note included six BBMF aircraft (Lancaster, three Spitfires and two Hurricanes), nine Tucanos, Hawk T1s and T2s and Tornado GR4s, the magnificent sight of 21 Typhoons arranged into a ‘100’ formation and the involvement of three F-35B Lightning IIs from the newly-reformed No 617 Squadron at RAF Marham.
UK Mosquito plans move forward
The Mosquito Pathfinder Trust’s restoration and re-flight efforts have taken another large step forward. Earlier in the year, it announced its collaboration with Avspecs of New Zealand. Now, it has another globally-renowned historic aircraft authority on board: the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC).
‘ARC has been engaged by the Trust to provide the suite of engineering and design services to NZ2308 [the aircraft selected for airworthy restoration]’, the trust said in its ‘Breaking News’ release of 21 July.
It continued: ‘These services are necessary to have the aircraft approved for flight in the UK, and together, the Trust and ARC are already well advanced in their preparations with the CAA to meet the necessary airworthiness requirements, important [considerations] whilst NZ2308 is being completed by Avspecs in New Zealand. The Mosquito Pathfinder Trust has also engaged with ARC to provide flight test and validation programme services before bringing the aircraft back to the UK, and to continue to be responsible for flying standards and pilot services when it is operational. Once in the UK, ARC will also be carrying out all maintenance requirements for the Mosquito.’
NZ2308 is a Mosquito T43, built in Australia as an FB40 but converted to a trainer for the RNZAF with which it served between 1947 and 1955. Post-service, the airframe lay derelict on a farm in Riwaka on New Zealand’s South Island before being acquired by Glyn Powell, who has since got it structurally complete with new-build parts.
With public support, the trust is aiming to have NZ2308 flying by 2020 and hopes to base it at IWM Duxford.
Yeovilton pulls out all the stops
RNAS Yeovilton’s International Air Day (IAD) on 7 July 2018 had a wide public appeal with a truly international line-up of aircraft spanning the decades since WWII and a bonus glance at the future.
Not surprisingly, helicopters were very well represented with no fewer than eighteen different types on the ground, ranging from The Flying Bulls’ historic Bristol Sycamore and an Army Air Corps Skeeter to today’s Wildcats and NH90s. Of note was a Lithuanian AF Mil Mi-8 ‘Hip’ and the final UK flying display by an in-service Sea King prior to the last ASaC.7 ‘Baggers’ being retired in September.
Naval heritage was well to the fore with the return of the RN Historic Flight’s Swordfish and Navy Wings’ Sea Fury T20 to the flying display. The latter helped reprise the 1952 Korean War combat success of the RN piston fighter over the jet-engined MiG-15, represented by the NAFHS’s Polish-built SBLim-2. The FAA Museum contributed a Sea King HAS5, Wessex HU5, Wasp HAS1 and Sea Hawk to the static park alongside the Yeovilton-based Phantom FG1 and Sea Harrier FA2 while a privately-owned Whirlwind HAR10, Wasp, Gazelle and an original Britannia RN College Tiger Moth were all flown in.
The French Navy made a significant contribution with the UK debut of the Cocarde Marine formation. This comprised a Falcon 50M leading a vintage MS760 Paris and CM175 Zéphyr, and flanked by a pair of Rafale Ms. Each of the types went on to give contrasting displays.
Modern combat jets had a prominent place in the flying programme with an RAF Typhoon, Belgian, Danish and Greek AF F-16s, Czech Gripen and colourful Canadian CF-18 Hornet taking to the air. F-16 wing-tip smoke winders and flare launches, more flares fired by a Wildcat and the Commando Assault finale’s pyrotechnics all enhanced the aerial spectacle.
Predictably, the Red Arrows brought the large crowd to their toes, while in contrast the Royal Jordanian Falcons, flying four new air force Extra EA330LXs, gave a very impressive close formation performance that produced one of the day’s longest rounds of applause upon landing.
With a USAF C-17A Globemaster dominating the impressive static display, the debut of Qatari and RCAF C-130J Hercules reinforced the transport line. A German P-3C Orion reminded visitors that this long-standing maritime patrol aircraft is reaching the end of its operational life.
A potential replacement, in the form of a P-8A Poseidon from the US Navy’s VP-10, was the focus of much interest as it is on order for the RAF. The Yeovilton IAD will long be remembered as one of this year’s top three UK military airshows alongside RAF Cosford and RIAT.
Report & photos: Peter R March
More Miles Movers
The very rare one-off Miles M.28 Mercury 6 OY-ALW has returned to the UK and will take up its original post-war registration G-AHAA. Arriving at Shoreham Airport on 3 July from Denmark on its ferry flight via Germany, Holland and Belgium, it continued to Goodwood before flying north to its new home at North Coates where it joined owner Stuart Blanchard’s Gemini G-AKHP.
First flown in 1946 it was the last of five, four-seat M.28s built at Woodley, and was owned by BOAC and used as a company transport before moving to the BEA Flying Club at White Waltham. It was sold to a German private owner in August 1956 and registered D-EHAB before subsequently transferring to Denmark.
Miles Messenger 2A G-AIEK flew in to Henstridge on
9 June from Middle Wallop where it had been stored for five years. Owned since July 2012 by Paul Beaver, it is now in the hands of Mark Hales who has tasked Miles McCullum with making it airworthy again.
This 1946-built Messenger was well known on the UK airshow scene for over twenty years. It was acquired by James Buckingham in 1972, who had it modified and painted to represent RG333, Field Marshal Montgomery’s personal aircraft. The original ’333 was one of the first aircraft to land in France after D-Day.
Unfortunately, it had an engine failure and crashed on 22 August 1945, ‘Monty’ suffering two broken vertebrae.
Report: Neil Wilson
Fabulous formations at Flying Legends
The Flying Legends Airshow run by TFC over 14-15 July successfully evoked the memorable summer of 1968 and the filming of the Battle of Britain film. It was fifty years ago that the production crew took up residence at Duxford to recreate the momentous months of 1940 for a worldwide cinema audience.
The most numerous type used was the Hispano HA1112 Buchón: 28 featured in the production, of which eighteen were flown. One of the American pilots, ‘Connie’ Edwards, subsequently acquired thirteen of these Buchóns, which were dismantled, containerised and shipped to his hangar in Texas in late 1969. There, they remained largely undisturbed until ‘Connie’ decided to dispose of most of his collection in 2014.
Legends saw four of these Buchóns fly together for the first time since the film: ARC’s ‘Yellow 10’, the two-seat ‘Red 11’ and single seat ‘Yellow 7’?the latter pair operated by Air Leasing, and the striking ‘White 9’ that carries the colours of eighty-victory Eastern Front ace Edmund Rossmann of III/JG 52 and has been restored prior to sale by Air Leasing.
In contrast to this Buchón bonanza, the RAF in the Battle of Britain was appropriately represented by the sole airworthy Blenheim leading two Spitfire Is and four Hurricanes, including Jan Friso Roozen’s Mk IIa P3351/ F-AZXR. Not to be outdone, the USAAF past and USAF present was well represented, firstly with the bomber escorts?P-47D G-THUN marked as 492 FS Nellie and three Mustangs including Legends’ debutante P-51D The Hun Hunter\Texas (N351MX) owned by Comanche Fighters which carries the colours of Capt Henry W ‘Baby’ Brown of the 354th FS, 355th FG. These aircraft accompanied the familiar B-17G Sally B and were followed by the USAF Heritage Flight, with a contemporary F-35A Lightning II in formation with Comanche Fighters’ P-51D and VS Spitfire LF Vc JG891 (G-LFVC).
Locally-based with Historic Flying Ltd between 2001 and 2007, the Castle Bromwich-built Spitfire has taken up residence once more after spending almost a decade in the United States. Acquired from first US owner Tom Blair in 2009, it suffered a minor landing accident in Arizona last July. Repatriated and repaired, G-LFVC has been repainted in the authentic colours of a Spitfire Vc(T) of No 249 Sqn while operating from Malta in 1943.
The Flying Bulls made a very welcome return, debuting its 1958 Douglas DC-6 OE-LDM which, along with its B-25 Mitchell, dominated the static display. A graceful flying display showed off the ‘Six’s lines to elegant effect, while for many spectators the team’s P-38L Lightning and F4U-4 Corsair’s close formation loops and barrels rolls were a highlight.
TFC’s newly-restored Fiat CR42 Falco (G-CBLS) appeared for the first time on static display and is expected to fly later this year. An ex-Swedish AF J 11 fighter, serial 2542, the Falco crashed in 1941. The wreck was recovered in 1983, together with another example, and years of restoration have been carried out in close co-operation with the Italian AF museum at Vigna di Valle.
The CR42 recently received an authentic Battle of Britain Regia Aeronautica livery, with the serial ‘MM6976’ and code ‘85-16’.
Report & photos: Andrew March
From the paint shop
Several UK-based historic aircraft have appeared in new markings this summer. HHA’s Hunter F58A ZZ191 was on display at RIAT in a ‘digital’, jagged-edged livery. A former Swiss AF Hunter (serving as J-4058) subsequently operated by the OFMC as G-BWFS, the Hunter was reregistered as G-HHAD and passed to HHA in 2002. Four years later, it was acquired by the MoD and regained a military serial but remains in HHA’s hands at RAF Scampton.
Over the same weekend, Duxford’s Flying Legends welcomed back a familiar participant in a new guise. At the previous year’s event, TF-51D Miss Velma – with TFC from 2007 to 2016, now owned by Anglia Aircraft Restorations - made a forced landing in a field just east of the airfield.
Repaired by Air Leasing, it re-emerged at Sywell as Contrary Mary and was re-flown on 10 July. The TF-51D now represents a Mustang of the USAAF’s 84th FS, 78th FG, based at Duxford in 1945.
DH Heritage Flights’ SNJ-5 Texan based at Compton Abbas, has exchanged its US Marines markings for all-over olive drab, complete with a shark’s mouth and the serial 431917.
Along with two B-25s from California, the Association Amicale JB Salis’s CASA 352 F-AZJU and Aces High’s C-47A N147DC, it has been involved in the remake of the Catch-22 movie in Sardinia.
There was a big surprise for visitors to the Families Day at RAF Coningsby, home to three squadrons of Eurofighter Typhoons, on 27 July – when the RAF Museum’s 74-year-old Hawker Typhoon was rolled out of the BBMF hangar to join the static display.
The Gloster-built Typhoon IB MN235 returned to the UK earlier this year after it had been loaned to the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Ottawa from 2014.
It was reassembled by a BAE Systems team and will remain on display in the BBMF hangar at Coningsby before transferring to Duxford for the IWM’s Battle of Britain Air Show on 22-23 September.