2010 Duxford Battle of Britain show
70 years ago Britain stood alone against a formidable enemy who had just conquered the mainland of Europe, with an air fleet of 1500 battle ready aircraft Germany had the advantage over the RAF witch had some 600 fighters to defend the country.
Britain however had an important novelty: an Integrated Air Defence System. A large network of the (civilian) Royal Observer Corps (equipped with telephones) and the new Radar stations was sending early warning information of enemy aircraft closing into the British coast to a central plotting room where the squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires were directed from. Working this system the RAF didn’t have to send out as much aerial patrols and was capable to make a strong stand to the Luftwaffe with the smaller numbers of aircraft they had.
Of course this is describing the Battle of Britain in a very small nutshell, but even though I am a huge aircraft fan, I think that the combination of the Royal Observer Corps, Radar and the aircraft of the RAF was unique for it’s time and should not be forgotten.
On the morning of September 4th we (Rob Vogelaar and myself) arrived at Duxford. a few years ago we also set out to report from an autumn show at Duxford, and we were aware of the risks we take with the weather.. but we were lucky, a beautiful sky and early morning sunshine gave us good light for a walk along the flight line. Duxford in my eyes is special because of it’s flight line and the opportunity that not only the press, but also the public get to walk past it without annoying fences that make it hard to take some nice pictures.
Unfortunately while getting closer to the showtime the sky filled with grey clouds and we lost the sun. But looking at the program we knew it would be a special day anyway.
When you visit a lot of air shows every year you pretty much saw it all, but Duxford has something that other shows don’t have, a flight of 4 Hurricane’s including a Sea Hurricane of the Shuttleworth collection. and the largest formation of Spitfires anywhere in the world… A grand finale, Spitfires starting up, 16 in total. After taking off they flew out to form a group, while we watched the show of the Hurricane’s, a Gloster Gladiator and the Olympic Casa Jungmann.. after they finished their show we watched a group of spots coming in from the right of the airfield..
Greatly impressed by the sound of 16 Rolls Royce Merlin engines (I actually got goosebumps on my arms) I watched the formation closing in. The only other sound I heard was the sound of dozens of shutters from camera’s around me clicking in high-speed mode. While the formation turned to the left for a breakup in two groups the public applauded, everybody seemed to realize that we witnessed a very rare site.
After the show we spoke with the pilot of the Dutch Spitfire who participated in the formation. He stated that he has seen, and done a lot of special things as a pilot, but this was absolutely one of the highlights in his career.
On the airfield of Duxford a lot of devoted people work hard to restore, display and fly a great number of special aircraft. Every time we visit and walk through the hangars we are amazed about this. From pilots to the safety people, everybody is doing his bit to preserve the Heritage Britain is proud of, in remembrance of the many who fell for our freedom.
Following our photo report.