The world’s only air-worthy Canberra PR9 will be celebrating its 65th anniversary and displaying at Wings & Wheels for the first time on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August as part of the Midair Squadron’s display.
The Midair Squadron’s Canberra XH134 has been restored with an authentic paint scheme which represents the markings worn when the type entered service. Visitors will get to view its all-over silver paint scheme, complete with tri-colour roundels, fin-flash and large black ‘XH134’ markings under each wing, as it displays both days at the Aerodrome in Surrey.
Jamie McAllister, Event Director comments: “We are thrilled to confirm the Canberra XH134’s participation at Wings & Wheels. It is the first time we have welcomed the jet to Dunsfold and look forward to the team demonstrating its phenomenal jet power to our visiting crowds.”
The Canberra entered service with the RAF in 1951 as its first jet powered bomber. It was unarmed and relied on highspeed to escape enemy fighters. During its first ten years of service, the Canberra broke nineteen flight records and three altitude records including winning the London to New Zealand Air Race in 1953 with a world speed record and the first jet flight over the North Pole in 1954.
The Canberra is believed to be the world’s longest serving bomber and most recently provided support during conflicts in the Balkans and Middle East. And, because of its ability to fly at nearly 60,000 ft., it was also used for clandestine photo reconnaissance work during the Cold War. The ‘English Electric’ Canberra was sold to air forces all over the world and a total 1,347 were built. The aircraft retired from active duty in 2006.
Visitors to Wings & Wheels can also enjoy the world famous Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane), Vulcan, Chinook, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s (CWHM) prized Avro Lancaster and a host of other modern and historic aircraft during the five hour flying displays. For four and two wheeled fans, supercars and classic and vintage icons put on an awe inspiring display of power and speed on the Top Gear track in a two hour auto spectacular from Brooklands Museum.
The show also includes over 25 fixed-price catering outlets, 2 bars, hospitality facilities, free on-site parking, public camping, lost children point, disabled access, informative show commentary, opportunities to meet the pilots, official show merchandise and grandstand seating.
Tickets start from £20 for adults, £45 for a family (2 adults and 3 children aged 5 – 15yrs), £6 for children aged between 5 and 15yrs and under 5s are free. Hospitality packages start from £150 per person, weekend passes, grandstand tickets and camping are also available. For more information visit www.wingsandwheels.net or to book standard tickets call 08712 305 572.
Wings & Wheels is promoted by Dunsfold Park Limited and in 2014 will be assisting the fundraising efforts of Brooklands Museum Trust and Help for Heroes.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Midair Squadron to display at RNAS Culdrose Air Day alongside Hunter WV372
The world’s only airworthy Canberra PR9 (XH134), along with her display partner Hunter XL577, will be joined by Hunter WV372 in a unique display at the RNAS Culdrose Air Day tomorrow, Thursday 31st July 2014.
Marking a new phase in the development of the Midair Squadron, this display will give the Cornwall crowds a taste of what is to come in the much-anticipated three ship display of the Midair Squadron.
Midair Squadron owner, Mike Davis, comments: “To fly the Midair Squadron alongside WV372 is a brilliant insight into the highly awaited and inimitable display formation on the air show circuit. Our second Hunter, XL600, continues to go through a thorough maintenance programme, and due to the unprecedented booking schedule for the Squadron’s Canberra and Hunter, it has taken slightly longer than initially projected. The sight of all three liveried Midair Squadron aircraft will be a spectacular sight and XL600 will be flown in formation shortly.”
The next scheduled display of the Midair Squadron will be next week at Festival of Flight, in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, where the Canberra and her counterparts will also overfly the Ulster Aviation Society’s collection, featuring XH134’s sister, at Long Kesh.
AIRSHOW NEWS: More Aircraft added to Shoreham Airshow display line-up
The countdown to this year’s 25th Anniversary Shoreham Airshow continues and our Flying Display Director Rod Dean has once again been busy behind the scenes adding more aircraft to the already spectacular line-up.
On Saturday August 30th the Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 will be appearing. This wonderful aircraft will once again grace the skies of Shoreham. “The backdrop of the Sussex Downs and Lancing College make Shoreham just that bit different compared with many other Airshows. Please note it will only be flying on the Saturday. Vulcan to the Sky Trust is limiting flying time this year so that this wonderful aircraft can extend its life span,” said Rod.
“The media attention that we have the world’s only two flying Lancaster’s has been the icing on the cake resulting in national and international interest with visitors applying for tickets from as far afield as Japan and Australia.”
Rod went on to say,” Another new item will be the US Navy Scenario featuring the Grumman Hellcat , Chance Vought Corsair, Grumman Bearcat and the Douglas Skyraider. These four aircraft will provide a formation and individual display demonstrating the power of these historic USN aircraft. They have a long and respected history in the wars of the Pacific, Korean war and Vietnam.”
The B-25 from the Royal Netherlands Historic flight will be flying with the popular B-17 Sally B. The Shoreham venue suits both these aircraft well giving visitors the opportunity to see the B-25 close up, which will base at Shoreham.
The popular Airfield Attack and Scramble will take on a different theme this year linked to D Day; a lot of surprises are in store with some different aircraft joining in. Also the Great War Display team will be flying 9 aircraft showing how aerial combat has changed over both wars.
Derek Harber, Shoreham’s Airshow Organiser has been delighted with the response to this year’s Airshow. “The Officer Commanding RAF Coningsby, Group Captain Johnny Stringer has agreed to be our Patron this year, and will be attending. It is a fitting tribute, as both the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and RAF Typhoon Display Team are based at this historic Lincolnshire Airfield.”
To include all the participating aircraft in the media release would be a mammoth task, with over 50 aircraft participating in a six hour flying display. Our website www.shorehamairshow.co.uk contains a full list and is updated on a regular basis. Many of the aircraft flying need a lot of ‘Tender Loving Care’ and all participation is subject to their serviceability, which is out of our control!
Press officer John Periam said. “In discussions with relevant parties, at other Airshows, there is no doubt that Shoreham is going to be very different this year. We already can tell this by the sale of advance tickets, and the interest shown by the many traders that exhibit at Shoreham. It is a real family day out with lots to see and do, including a craft tent, fun fair, vintage vehicles as well as large static aircraft display were one can meet the pilots and the lookalikes.”
“25 years is a milestone”, added Derek Harber. “From humble beginnings we have now become one of the most respected aviation events in the UK, as well as one of the pilot’s favourites. The team behind it should all be proud of what they have achieved, whilst providing an enormous amount of funding to the Royal Air Forces Association.”
The ticket hotline is now open 01903 282360 and over 90 ticket outlets in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey (see adverts in regional press) are selling direct.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Bournemouth Air Festival takes flight
The 2014 Bournemouth Air Festival, supported by Mouchel and City Fibre, has confirmed the line up of this summer’s magnificent aircraft – from historic flying machines, jets and display teams to sparkling dusk displays and parachute teams, there’s something for everyone. This year organisers have developed Night Air, sponsored by Corona, and are welcoming a number of new aircraft to the Festival including the much anticipated Canadian Lancaster, displaying at the weekend with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the Mid Air Squadron Canberra XH134.
In 1951 the Canberra joined the RAF as the first jet powered bomber. Believed to be the world’s longest serving bomber, the aircraft retired from active duty in 2006, now fully restored it is the only air-worthy Canberra of its type in the world.
Owner Mike Davis commented; Owner Mike Davis commented; “The Midair Squadron is an expertly managed passion and we’re really looking forward to bringing an aura of classic elegance to the skies of Bournemouth!”
Headlining the aviation action are the Red Arrows – representing the incredible speed, agility and precision of the Royal Air Force they will be displaying on all 4-days, Thursday at 1515, Friday 1500, Saturday 1635 and Sunday 1210. The RAF will also be displaying the Eurofighter Typhoon (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and Tutor and Tucano training aircraft. The much anticipated weekend display will undoubtedly be when the world’s last two airworthy Lancaster bombers take centre stage the breathtaking Canadian Lancaster with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – in a meeting unlikely to happen ever again this is a must see for everyone.
There will be a host of Armed Forces helicopters taking to the skies with performances from The Royal Navy Merlin and for the first time a Lynx and Wildcat pairing; watch out for the Army Lynx and RAF Chinook, both flying every day.
Bournemouth favourite the Miss Demeanour soars to the Festival on Friday and Saturday and back to impress with magnificent grace Friday, Saturday and Sunday is the Flying Fortress SallyB. The recently announced Avro Vulcan displays Saturday.
This year the fantastic daytime air display program is complemented by a longer dusk display starting at 7.15pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. New for this year’s Night Air line-up are the Blades performing a sunset display Friday and Saturday night (and Sunday daytime). Sponsored by the Miramar Hotel O’Briens Flying Circus and the Twister Duo will set the skies alight and The Red Devils Parachute Team, sponsored by the Patrons 100 Club, finishes the evening line up.
Jon Weaver, Air Festival Director added; “This year’s line-up is really ambitious, it’s got Festival favourites, Force and civilian teams, fast jets, loud aircraft, display teams and a sprinkle of dusk pyrotechnics. That’s not forgetting everything that’s happening on the ground, at sea and in the evening!”
For more information visit bournemouthair.co.uk, follow the Festival Facebook page bournemouthairfestival or follow the team on Twitter @bmthairfest.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Surprise aircraft announced for the Flying Legends Air Show
Over 50 historic aircraft, from across the world, to display at this world-famous air show
Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 July 2014
The Fighter Collection is delighted to announce a surprise addition to the flying participation for the Flying Legends Air Show 2014.
The Planes of Fame Boeing P-26 Peashooter will cross the Atlantic to display at the Flying Legends Air Show; the only opportunity to see this unique aircraft in action in 2014. You can see the aircraft up-close on the flight line walk before watching it perform a stunning solo display during the afternoon’s flying programme.
The Boeing P-26 Peashooter was the first all-metal US Army fighter monoplane. 151 aircraft were built from 1932 to 1936. They first saw combat with the Chinese Nationalist Air Force on 15 August 1937. On this day, eight P-26 Peashooters engaged 20 Japanese Claude bombers and scored two victories without loss.
One of a group of P-26s, turned over to the Philippine Army in late 1941, was amongst the first Allied fighters to down a Japanese aircraft in the Second World War.
This P-26 Peashooter, the only airworthy example in the world, was acquired by Ed Maloney, Founder of the Planes of Fame Air Museum, in 1955. It resides at the museum in Chino, California.
Over 50 aircraft will take part in this year’s Flying Legends Air Show, including four rare Mark I Spitfires amongst a total of 12 Spitfires taking to the skies.
The Flying Bulls return with their superb Lockheed P-38 Lightning, North American B-25 Mitchell and Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair. There is also a rare chance to see the Breitling Super Constellation in the UK. This sleek post-war passenger aircraft will be open for visitors to clamber aboard and explore before it takes to the skies for a thrilling flying display.
The Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Stifung Foundation flies its Junkers Ju-52 to the Flying Legends Air Show from Germany; French-based Amicale Jean Baptiste SALIS presents its Junkers Ju-52; and Dakota Norway returns to the Flying Legends Air Show with its Douglas C-53D-DO Dakota.
The Fighter Collection presents its entire collection of historic aircraft at this year’s Flying Legends Air Show, including a rare Hawker Nimrod Mark I and a Gloster Gladiator, the last biplane fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force.
The Flying Legends Air Show has a unique nostalgic wartime atmosphere.
In the Vintage Village, enjoy live music from The Manhattan Dolls, who’ll be jetting in from New York to thrill the crowds with evocative 1940s songs, and also from the Winslow Concert Band, who’ll be performing wartime Swing and Big Band numbers.
You can also climb aboard the Home Front Bus, have a vintage hair and make-up transformation and sit in a replica Spitfire. Laurel and Hardy will be creating havoc in the Vintage Village with their slapstick comedy.
Meet Ops 1939-45, who represent Battle of Britain-era RAF pilots and ground crew with uncanny accuracy. They’ll be chatting to visitors in their dispersal point display as they await the call to scramble.
The 42nd Field Hospital portrays US Army medical personnel from the Second World War, while the Screaming Eagles Living History Group will be representing servicemen from the 101st US Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Easy Company during the Second World War. They will have displays at the air show and will be bringing the 1940s to life in US style.
In the American Air Museum, meet Boeing B-29 Superfortress pilot Paul Maupin, who will be hosting walk-around tours of our B-29 Superfortress on Saturday and Sunday at 10am, 11am and noon.
Following a career as a Chief Pilot and Aviation Department Manager for a large financial company in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, Paul is now a co-pilot for the Commemorative Air Forces, flying the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and the Boeing B-24 Liberator. At the Flying Legends Air Show, he’ll be chatting to visitors about flying these iconic aircraft.
Paul says: “Flying the B-29 is a privilege. I think about the responsibility I have before each flight. The plane has no boosted controls, and is physically demanding to fly. The view out the front requires some getting used to. However, after a little practice, the plane is just fun to fly! She is a grand lady!”
Join us for the world-famous Flying Legends Air Show; a unique air show experience.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Sea Vixen boosts Air Day Carrier celebrations
The world’s only flying de Havilland Sea Vixen post-war naval strike fighter will be a special part of RNAS Yeovilton Air Day 2014′s ‘Carrier Aviation’ theme. Its appearance in this year’s flying display will be one of the most eagerly anticipated performances in recent years.
Closely following HMS Queen Elizabeth’s 4 July naming ceremony, Air Day 2014 celebrates the role played by airborne assets deployed at sea since aviation’s inception. The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will redefine this capability when, from 2017 onwards, they start to enter service but, more than 50 years ago, it was the mighty Sea Vixen which spearheaded the Royal Navy’s sea-deployed airpower.
An all-weather fleet air defence fighter, the twin-engine, twin-boomed de Havilland Sea Vixen entered Royal Navy service in 1959. It was the biggest and heaviest British designed type to operate from aircraft carriers but, now, the uniquely airworthy Sea Vixen FAW2 XP924 is the largest and weightiest classic jet fighter flying anywhere in Europe.
Restored to flight in the late-1990s, with its futuristic lines and thunderous displays, the aircraft has been thrilling Air Day’s audiences for many years, recalling the times when Sea Vixens were based at RNAS Yeovilton. XP924 currently wears the colours of 899 Naval Air Squadron, replicating its exact look when it was based here during its former Fleet Air Arm service days.
Tickets for Air Day can be booked online at www.royalnavy.mod.uk/yeovilton-airday at the discounted advance rates or by calling 08445 781 781.
The only two remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers in the world are due to take to the skies over Clacton for the very first time.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) has once again signed up for both days of the event on August 21 and 22.
The BBMF Lancaster is to be joined by the prized Avro Lancaster owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM), which has been kept airborne by a $500,000 fundraising drive.
Now with its engines overhauled it will be appearing at a number of displays and activities in the UK during a month long visit to the country in August, including Clacton.
Mark Platt, TDC’s Cabinet member for Culture, Tourism, Events and Leisure Services, said it is a major coup for the show.
“To see two Lancasters flying together over our town will be an amazing sight to behold and I am sure it will pull in even more visitors this year,” he said.
“It will be a rare opportunity to witness the only two airworthy Lancasters in action and I can’t wait.
“Being a qualified pilot myself with a big interest in aircraft it will be an incredible experience not to be missed.”
The Canadian Lancaster is the jewel in the crown of the CWHM’s aircraft and it was only revealed earlier this month that it was all systems go for it to come over to the UK this summer.
“We had to wait for the final green light before we could make this announcement and it will be a memorable addition to our programme this year,” added Cllr Platt.
It has already been announced that the Clacton Air Show has secured the Red Arrows, one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams on Friday August 22.
It is a significant achievement to have the team back as they are in great demand in their 50th display season.
The Red Arrows have been appearing at the Clacton Air Show for more than 20 years now.
Another aircraft definitely making it to Clacton is the Tucano and further announcements about the programme are due to be made by the air show team over the coming months.
Clacton will once again be the only seaside East Coast event of its kind as attempts to get Lowestoft and Southend off the ground again have met with failure.
Hopefully fans that would previously go to those shows in the past will be tempted to come along to Clacton as they did last year.
The Clacton Air Show is the signature event on Tendring’s tourism calendar and a vital boost to the District’s economy – bringing in around £4 million more than would be generated over the two days without the event.
Last year it attracted around 140,000 people over the two days.
Due to hard work and careful budgeting the event is getting to a point where it is close to breaking even and is sustainable.
Anyone wanting information about sponsorship opportunities, hospitality, or trade space should contact 01255 686683 or 01255 686654.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Midair Squadron’s Canberra PR9 is welcomed to home turf at Festival of Flight, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, flanked by both Hunter T7s
The Midair Squadron is delighted to confirm their appearance at the BE Aerospace Festival of Flight in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland on the 9th August 2014, hosting a tangible link to the past.
Canberra XH134, the world’s only airworthy Canberra PR9, is one of only 23 of these aircraft to be manufactured by Short Brothers and Harland Ltd in Belfast between 1958 and 1962. The Canberra is believed to be the longest serving aircraft in RAF history, and was only retired from active operation in July 2006.
En route to Newcastle, the Midair Squadron will overfly where the Canberra’s sister, XH131, stands proud in the Ulster Aviation Society’s collection at Long Kesh.
Following the type’s retirement, XH131 was donated to the Ulster Aviation Society by Midair Squadron owner, Mike Davis, and was transported by road to the Society’s base in 2010 as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support project to conserve and explore the heritage of the aircraft.
Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Flt Lt Mike Leckey, Midair Squadron’s Chief Pilot, will be at the controls of XH134, which will be flanked by both Squadron Hunters. Schooled in Belfast, Leckey joined the Royal Air Force in 1988 and has flown over 2,700 hours on the Canberra during his time in the military.
Commenting on his and the Canberra’s homecoming, Flt Lt Mike Leckey, says, “To fly the Canberra over home crowds will be a fitting tribute and testament to the Midair Squadron and the force behind this historic and unique aviation team. The Canberra is an exceptional aircraft combining both power and beauty, and we are thrilled to be joining the line up at the Newcastle Festival of Flight.”
Jeff Salter, Festival of Flight organiser comments, “It was the Canberra B5 prototype which held the return Atlantic crossing record from Aldergrove to Gander and back in 10 hours 3 minutes. The record being achieved in 1952.
“We’re delighted to welcome the Midair Squadron to Northern Ireland, and are particularly excited to witness the spectacular sight and sound of the Canberra PR9 and her sister Hunters, and hear their famous howls.”
The Combined Ops Show this year commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War 1, the 75th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2 and the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at the Headcorn Aerodrome, Ashford, Kent.
The First World War
Combined Ops will be commemorating the start of the First World War with demonstrations of WW1 weapons and equipment by re-enactors representing British and German soldiers of the period, as part of the multi-period living history. In addition they will take part in a recreation of a First World War battle, which will include a replica WW1 British Mark IV tank.
World War 2 and the D-Day Landings
From early 1944 until September of that year, Headcorn Aerodrome (then known as RAF Lashenden) was the operational base for RAF, Canadian Air Force and US Army Air Force fighter and fighter bomber aircraft which were flying from there in support of Allied landings in Normandy on D-Day and afterwards.
The Aerodrome still retains many of its wartime features, including the Mess Hall, various hangers and support buildings, as well as an almost unique example of the Hamilton retractable airfield defence gun turrets. All these can be seen on the aerodrome during the show, as well as the Lashenden Airwarfare Museum, which houses one of the very few surviving examples of the V1 Flying Bomb.
In the air, the show will feature the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, who will be putting on their amazing display on both days. All these types of aircraft featured during the D-Day operations and of course the Hurricane was the principal RAF fighter plane at the start of WW2. The wartime role of RAF Lashenden will be particularly commemorated with flying displays by a USAAF P15 Mustang of the type which operated from the aerodrome in 1944, as well as other period military and civil aircraft.
On the ground the show will be host to numerous WW2 military vehicles, including tanks and other armoured vehicles, of both the Allied and German armies. There will be battle re-enactments of the D-Day Normandy fighting, and a 1940s village will recreate the atmosphere of civilian life throughout the war, such as having to cope with German bombing and food rationing. Displays will demonstrate 1940s cooking, clothing, hairstyling, firefighting, farming, etc.
A host of stalls will be offering, amongst other things, wartime uniforms and equipment, civilian clothes and visitors can Jitterbug and Jive to the famous wartime songs and music in the bar marquee.
Visit www.combinedops.co.uk as tickets can be pre-booked at a discounted price (and to avoid disappointment as may sell out) also for more general information.
AIRSHOW NEWS: Veteran D-Day aircraft fly at The D-Day Anniversary Air Show at IWM Duxford
The eagerly-anticipated flying display at The D-Day Anniversary Air Show features fighter, bomber and transport aircraft that would have been seen over the beaches of Normandy. It presents over 20 aircraft carrying invasion stripes; a spectacular sight.
Amongst the many Supermarine Spitfires, Douglas C-47 Skytrains and Piper L-4 Cubs flying in this evocative display are aircraft that saw service during the D-Day landings.
Supermarine Spitfire IXT ML407 (The Grace Spitfire) was built at Castle Bromwich in early 1944 as a single-seat fighter. It served on the front line of battle throughout the last twelve months of the Second World War with six different Allied squadrons of the Royal Air Force’s 2nd Tactical Air Force.
ML407 flew a total of 176 operational combat sorties, amassing an impressive 319 combat hours. The aircraft was delivered to No 485 (New Zealand) Squadron on 29 April 1944 by Jackie Moggridge, one of the foremost female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). It became the ‘mount’ of Flying Officer Johnnie Houlton DFC who was credited, whilst flying ML407, with the first enemy aircraft shot down over the Normandy beach-head on D-Day.
Johnnie recounted: “In mid-afternoon I led Blue Section during the third patrol of the day…I glimpsed a Ju88 above cloud, diving away fast to the south. Climbing at full throttle I saw the enemy aircraft enter a large isolated cloud above the main layer, and when it reappeared on the other side I was closing in rapidly. I…positioned the aiming dot on the right-hand engine of the enemy aircraft and fired a three-second burst. The engine disintegrated, fire broke out, two crew members bailed out and the aircraft dived steeply to crash on a roadway, blowing apart on impact.”
“As I turned back towards the beach-head I sighted a second Ju88 heading south and made an almost identical attack, which stopped the right-hand engine. This aircraft then went into a steep jinking dive, with the rear gunner firing at the other members of my section, who all attacked, until the Ju88 flattened-out and crash-landed at high speed. One of its propellers broke free, to spin and bound far away across the fields and hedges like a giant Catherine wheel. As we reached the beach-head radio chatter indicated that other pilots were dealing with another German bomber…”
“Supreme Headquarters nominated the first Ju88 I had destroyed as the first enemy aircraft to be shot down since the invasion began, putting 485 (NZ) Spitfire Squadron at the top of the scoreboard for D-Day.”
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Supermarine Spitfire LFIXe MK356 was heavily involved in fighter and fighter-bomber operations over France during the prelude to the invasion. The day after D-Day, its pilot claimed a half-share in a Messerschmitt Bf109.
The National Warplane Museum of Geneseo, New York, sends its flagship Douglas C-47 Skytrain across the Atlantic on a pilgrimage to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Affectionately known as Whiskey 7 from its distinctive squadron markings, it served with the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean during 1943 before transferring to the UK. In the early hours of D-Day itself it was the lead ship of the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, dropping paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division near St-Mère-Église.
Tradewind Aviation’s C-47 Skytrain is another visitor from the USA. On D-Day it was based at RAF Aldermaston in Berkshire with the 73rd Squadron of the 434th Troop Carrier Group, from where it towed a Waco glider into the Normandy battle zone. Now known as the ‘Union Jack Dak’, having been returned to flying condition in 2010 by a team from Britain, it also saw action at Arnhem and during the Battle of the Bulge.
Dakota Heritage’s C-47 Skytrain ‘Drag-em-oot’ came to the UK in 1943. It flew on Operation Elmira on the afternoon of D-Day with the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, the lead United States Army Air Force squadron on D-Day. Used by a specialist unit to recover gliders from Normandy, the aircraft still bears the scars of its wartime career in the shape of numerous bullet hole patches on its fuselage and around the cockpit.
The C-47 Skytrain operated by Aces High was in the UK with the 8th Air Force from mid-1943 to September 1944. It is believed to have flown on glider-towing operations, possibly from Tarrant Rushton, over the D-Day period and was later involved in the Arnhem operation before being transferred to the 9th Air Force.
Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar’s Piper L-4 Cub was built in 1943 and shipped to England in January 1944, where it was initially assigned to the United States Army Air Force’s 8th Air Force. After D-Day, it took part in operations alongside US ground troops.
The same organisation’s Supermarine Spitfire IX MK912 was allocated to No 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron in 1944. It was flown by Squadron Leader M A ‘Tony’ Liskutin DFC AFC, who was born in Czechoslovakia and escaped the German forces by crossing the Channel in 1940 to fly with the Royal Air Force. He was the Commanding Officer of his squadron, which flew from Appledram in Sussex, an Advanced Landing Ground established specifically for the period around D-Day.
Tony was airborne in Spitfire MK912 over the D-Day period, and together they became the first Allied pilot and aircraft to land on French soil after D-Day +1. He was awarded the Czechoslovak War Cross and Medal for Valour, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross.
The Piper L-4 Cub owned by Robin Roberts is of the type flown by his father, 2nd Lieutenant George W Roberts. George was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. His L-4 was attached to the 456th Parachute Field Artillery (PFA) Battalion, one of three parachute artillery battalions that belonged to the 82nd Airborne Division.
George was best friends with the pilot of the L-4 coded 57-G. They both took part in the Sicily invasion, led by the 82nd Airborne Division. The 82nd Airborne Division was withdrawn from Italy and sent to Leicester, England, to prepare for the D-Day landings. George Roberts and his friend were both engaged to young Leicester girls in the few months during which the Division was stationed in that area. Their plan was to get married on the 82nd Airborne Division’s return from Normandy after the invasion.
L-4 Cub 57-G was shot down in the first few days of fighting at St-Mère-Église, where the 82nd Airborne Division was dropped into battle. Its pilot and observer were killed. George Roberts returned to Leicester to marry his fiancée. After the wedding and a single night’s honeymoon at the Ritz Hotel, he was sent with the 82nd Airborne Division to take part in Operation Market Garden.
Robin Roberts’ L-4 Cub is painted to represent his father’s aircraft, coded 57-H, while the L-4 of FrazerBlades depicts 57-G, in honour of George Roberts’ best friend, who died at St-Mère-Église.