The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was one of the events that really made 2012 so special, and it was only natural that the UK’s armed forces played a crucial role in the celebrations. The main flypast for the Jubilee unusually took place away from London over the Winsdor Castle during a special Jubilee Military Review. For it, there were two very large and spectacular formations of training aircraft. First there was a ’60’ formation of RAF Tucano T1s from RAF Linton-on-Ouse before the spectacular E II R Formation from the RAF and Royal Navy operated Hawk T1 and T2s.

Such formations require large amounts of airspace to form up and navigate as the the extremes of the formation are separated by a much larger distance than is usual so are are not normally seen at airshows, particularly when they involve such large numbers of aircraft. When it was announced that RIAT would see a repeat of the E II R element of the flypast, it was a guaranteed highlight of the event.

For RIAT the Hawks all operated from RAF Valley. Low cloud en-route on the Saturday prevented the full E II R formation being performed with nine Hawk T2s from No IV(R) Squadron. However, conditions were just good enough for all 27 Hawks to form up and navigate to RAF Fariford. It was a particularly significant moment as the impending withdrawal of the Hawk T1 from the training role means that the chances of such a large formation of Hawks is next to nil, particularly with just 22 Hawk T2s planned to enter service!