Duxford’s Flying Legends 2018 was a show to remember. Not only was the legendary warbirds airshow blessed with stunning summer weather and deep blue skies on Sunday, it also featured many impressive warbird formations, amongst them a stunning 4-ship formation of Buchons – a real treat not seen for ages! And not to forget the seemingly endless line-up of nearly 50 airworthy warbirds along Duxford’s grass runway.
Where? Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire, Great Britain
The four Buchons were part of the Luftwaffe & Battle of Britain Movie tribute. Such a large gathering of airworthy Buchons was not seen since the 1969 released film and it was a real spectacle to see those aircraft fly in close formation! Of course the German planes were ‘chased’ by Spitfires of different marks that in the course of the battle also achieved an aerial victory over their enemies.
14 Spitfires – a sight to behold!
The “Spitfire Scramble” with a tailchase and Spitfire flypasts was also the traditional opening of the flying programme at 2pm. 14 Supermarine Spitfires in the air were a sight to behold! Especially on Saturday their take-off was most impressive, as the prop wash stirred up the grass on the dry runway.
Classic Corsair Formation
Following this very British part of the show the naval fighters were next. In the morning the impressive line-up of three bend-wing Corsairs could already be seen on the flightline. It took years to see this number of the most well-known Navy warbird assembled together. With Duxford’s own “The Fighter Collection” FG-1D Corsair as obviously set for the show and the Salzburg-based Red Bull Corsair being also a rather well-known warbird on the European scene, the appearance of the recently finished Vought Corsair F4U-5N of the AJBS “Les Casques de Cuir” at La Ferté-Alais, France was more than welcome. This plane got out of a decade-long restoration job and debuted at the La Ferté-Alais airshow earlier this year. To save space, the Corsairs were parked with their wings folded up and only got the wings down when the engines fired up for the flying display. For the Naval tribute however the Red Bull Corsair did not fly, as it only participated in the Flying Bulls choreography later that day. Instead the dark blue Bearcat complemented the trio of naval fighters.
Warbird Duos and Trios
The Curtiss Trio of the Hawk 75, P-40C and P-40F was unfortunately hampered by a technical issue of the Hawk 75 on the sunny Sunday, but the close formation of the two P-40s was really something special.
The warbird afternoon continued ‘Furies’ly with the Hawker Sea Fury and Fury. Powered by the Powered by the Pratt& Whitney R2800 respectively Bristol Centaurus XVIII radial engine these two powerful planes put up quite a show.
Battle of Britain – Blenheim, Spitfire and Hurricanes
For the “Battle of Britain” theme it was time for the world’s only flying Bristol Blenheim Mk.I to take off from Duxford’s grass runway. Fittingly it was joined by two Mk.I Spitfires and four Hawker Hurricanes.
USAAF in WWII
Changing to the American side the “Bomber Escort” part of Flying Legends 2018 featured the B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B”, three P-51 Mustangs and Europe’s only flying P-47 Thunderbolt. The Republic P-47D “Nellie” is well known at Duxford, as the airframe was last present at the show in 2006, but that time with big invasion stripes and “No Guts No Glory” markings on the nose. After its stay in the US it returned as “Nellie” in the colours of an aircraft of the 48th FG 492 FS.
RAF100 – Centenary of the Royal Air Force
To celebrate RAF100, the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the USAF did send a special birthday present. Coming over from the coincidentally happening RIAT at RAF Fairford, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was the spearhead of the USAF Heritage Flight. The heritage flight usually presents in a mixed formation of modern jets and warbirds the past and the present of the USAF. A unique setup to honor the history of RAF this mixed formation of aircraft featured the F-35 Lightning II, a P-51D Mustang, and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.V. Never before was the USAF Heritage Flight seen with a non-US-build aircraft type!
Nearing the end of the afternoon the “Norwegian Tribute” brought together the DC-3 Dakota and the Grumman Wildcat, before the “Flying Bulls” took the stage at Duxford. Their routine was a 30-minutes long extravaganza of warbird flying, including aerobatics, formation flying and beautiful presentation of their aircraft. Starting the display the Douglas DC-6, North American B-25 Mitchel, Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Vought F4U Corsair were flown together in a big formation, and subsequently split up to do solo displays or perform in smaller formations.
Being 5pm it was time for the Balbo formation, the “grande finale” of each Flying Legends day. It consisted of 26 aircraft this time and kept photographers busy when the aircraft returned in a beautiful warm afternoon light until the last engine had shut down.
Looking at smiling and sometimes also sun-burned faces it was clear that proven concept of the “Flying Legends” warbird spectacle was once again back in strength this year. For sure the 2018 will be remembered for the 4-ship formation of Buchons and splendid summer weather.
Also the concept of longer flightline, which is in place since the previous year, seemingly allowed for more space along the fence. Even though this free space might have also been partly caused by several other events courting for visitors on that same week-end. But for warbird aficionados however the choice was clear: Duxford is the place to be!
And seeing that splendid Fiat C.R.42 Falco on the flightline, the highlight for Flying Legends 2019 is already set to go!