DAILY MAIL CHALKE VALLEY HISTORY FESTIVAL AIR SHOW
2013 was the launch of the first Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival Air Show. We’ve saw some incredible historic aircraft – or warbirds, as they are known – and we’re pretty confident there’s no finer backdrop to an air show anywhere in the country.
Among those who took part are:
OLD FLYING MACHINE COMPANY (OFMC)
The Old Flying Machine Company was formed by the legendary founder of the Red Arrows, Ray Hanna, and his children Mark and Sarah, and maintains and operates rare historic aircraft in airworthy condition. Both Ray and Mark had exceptional backgrounds in military and aerobatic flying, Ray as an RAF Squadron Leader and leader of the Red Arrows in the 1960s, Mark flying Hunters and F-4 Phantoms.
The company has a well-earned reputation for specializing in film and television work, and has an impressive list of credits to its name, including: Saving Private Ryan, Dark Blue World, Flyboys, Empire of the Sun and Piece of Cake. The company’s reputation and professional standing is driven by its commitment to display classic fighter aircraft in a manner that emulates as closely and safely as possible the roles for which they were originally designed. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and Europe, enjoy the dynamic flying displays that OFMC provides at public airshows and private events. This season, Old Flying Machine Company is operating the Spitfire Mk IX and P-51D Mustang from its home base at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
The OFMC Spitfire Mk IX MH474
The OFMC Spitfire is the first of three Mk IX Spitfires flying over the History Festival this June. The Mk IX was the most-built of all the Spitfire’s twenty-four variants, and, in the view of most of the those who flew it during the war, the most popular too. Powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin 66, the Mk IX was a marked improvement of the standard Mk V, and developed specifically to take on the German Focke-Wulf 190. With a maximum speed of over 400 mph, it was, and remains, a stunning aircraft, capable of rapid climb, considerable fire-power, immense agility and lightness of controls, and possibly the most beautiful aircraft ever built.
We are lucky to have perhaps the most famous of all Spitfires still flying today. MH434 was built in 1943 at Vickers, Castle Bromwich. This Spitfire is completely original, and has never been fully rebuilt. It was originally air tested by the record-breaking Alex Henshaw in August 1943, before being posted to 222 Squadron. By the end of the war, MH474 had seven confirmed kills and one shared kill to its name. It later saw action in the Far East with the Dutch Air Force, before being passed to the Belgian Air Force in 1953. She was finally sold in 1956 and bought by British airline pilot, Tim Davies, and went on to star in The Battle of Britain, before being sold again, this time to Sir Adrian Swire. He then sold her to Ray Hanna in 1983, and MH474 became one of the OFMCA’s founding aircraft.
The OFMC P-51D Mustang
The OFMC Mustang was taken on by the USAAF in February 1945 and shipped to England, where it served at Leiston, Norfolk, with the US 8th Air Force. After the war, she was taken on by the Royal Canadian Air Force before being sold into private hands in 1957. After several owners and overhauls, she was shipped back across the Atlantic to join the Fighter Collection, and took part in a number of films, including The Memphis Belle. The OFMC acquired the plane in early 1999, and it now carries the colours of Wallace E. Hopkins and the name ‘Ferocious Frankie,’ named in honour of Wallace’s wife. Wallace flew with the 361st Fighter Group and was credited with eight kills.
The Biggins Boys are based in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill, one of the most famous of all fighter airfields and one that served in the front line of the Battle of Britain.
Kent Spitfire Mk IX TA805
The Kent Spitfire was built at the Supermarine works at Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands late in the war, and started her career with the RAF at No. 39 MU in December 1944. It later joined 183 (Gold Coast) Squadron at Chilbolton on the 17th June 1945, commanded by Squadron Leader J R Cullen DFC. TA805 was struck off the RAF’s list and shipped to the South African Air Force in 1949. It was eventually sold and shipped back to the UK, where is lay in storage until 1992, when she was bought by Peter Monk. Work to bring her back to flying condition began in 1996, and she finally flew again in 2003.
Hurricane AE977 started life as a Sea Hurricane and was manufactured in 1940, operating from Yeovilton in Somerset. It crashed on December 5th, 1942 whilst being piloted by Squadron Leader Douglas Trevor King RNVR and was beyond economical repair. It was found in 1960 and remained in storage until 1994 when a full restorations programme was initiated, which took six years. It took its first flight back in the air at RAF Wattisham in Suffolk in July 2000. The Test Pilot called her, ‘the most beautiful Hurricane he had ever flown.’
Spitfire Mk IX MK912
Spitfire MK912 was built at Castle Bromwich in early 1944, and sent to 8 MU at Little Rissington in Gloucestershire in March that year. Soon after D-Day, she was posted to 312 (Czech) Squadron at Appledram and Tangmere in Sussex. It was one of the first Spitfires to land in France after loose radio equipment forced the pilot to make an emergency landing. Soon after it was posted to 84 GSU at Aston Down and then a number of other training units before being sold to the Royal Netherlands Air Force in 1946. Sent to the Far East, it returned to Holland in 1950 before being sold on to the Belgium Air Force in 1955 as a display aircraft. It was bought privately in 1997, and returned to the UK for a complete restoration and flew once again in August 2000. After several owners and a trip across the Atlantic to Canada, she was bought by Peter Monk and returned to the UK.
ROYAL NAVY HISTORIC FLIGHT
Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 VR930
The Hawker Sea Fury was the Fleet Air Arm’s last piston-engine fighter to serve in front-line squadrons. Adapted from the radial-engine Hawker Tempest, it first flew in February 1945 and was produced until 1952, serving valiantly and effectively throughout the Korean War. VR930 served with 802 Squadron and later 801 Squadron before being ‘retired’ in 1961. The aircraft was rebuilt in 1989 and joined the RNHF in 1998. VR930 now wears her original colours from 802 Squadron.
The Messerschmitt Bf 108 was designed by Willi Messerschmitt at the Bayerische Flugzeuwerke and first flew in 1934. Developed as a four-seat sports and recreation aircraft, it set a number of endurance records, and during the war was brought into service by the Luftwaffe and used primarily as a personnel and transport aircraft. This model of the Taifun, as it was known, is joint owned by James Pittock and Simon O’Donnell.
GREAT WAR DISPLAY TEAM
The Great War Display Team was formed in 1988 and was originally called ‘The Wombats.’ It included a collection of First World War-era aircraft, including SE5as, Fokker Dr1s and a Fokker D7, many of them flown by those who built them. This year is therefore the Team’s 25th anniversary, and at the Chalke Valley History Festival Air Show, they are promising to put on an especially exciting show. Expect, turns, rolls, and not a little gun-fire…
Among those confirmed are:
Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a
The GWDT will showing three of these iconic aircraft, which went into front-line service in 1917. Originally using a Hispano-Suiza 200HP engine, they were later up-powered with a 200HP Wolseley Viper. Used until the end of the First World War, some 5,265 were built.
The Sopwith Triplane was first flown in 1916 and then went straight to France to be test-flown in service with ‘A’ Flight of 1 Squadron, the Royal Naval Air Service, where it was reputedly sent up in pursuit of the enemy with fifteen minutes of its arrival. By 1917, two RNAS squadrons had been equipped with Triplanes. Popular with its pilot, it was nonetheless used sparingly and only 150 were ever built and all went to the RNAS.
The Junkers CL1 was a ground-attack aircraft, based on the Junkers J8 but with an extended fuselage to carry a gunner. First flying in late 1917 it was accepted by Idflieg, which oversaw all German military aviation, but only 47 were built by the time of the Armistice. The GWDT’s aircraft is a modified Bowers Fly-Baby, remodelled to look like the CL1. It was originally built in 1988 by John Day, first flying with the Team in its modified form in 2003.