‘Those Magnificent Men…’

[This is a post for aeroplane nuts, feel free to pass on by.]

On Saturday we went with aeroplane enthusiast friends to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. This is an airfield, plus many great hangers, with aircraft spanning both world wars and up to today’s fighting/rescue aeroplanes. I did my best with my little camera. Here we have a Gypsy Moth.

DSCN6312And here is the Rapide from the 1930’s, in which people can take joy-rides from Duxford.



The Boeing B 17 Flying Fortress Sally B being fettled before she took off. Memphis Belle

One of the most exciting displays was the wing walkers. Here is one warming up.

DSCN6343And here they are in the air. One of them is piloted by David Barrell, who used to be a partner in our local garage, keeping my series of very fourth-hand cars on the road.DSCN6366 DSCN6367 I worry about the G force.

Here’s one (a Shorts Tucano) that sat in front of us for some time. It’s paint job made me think of your blog, Pierre, so this is for you. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Though I gather that this wonderful Canadian-built (1943) Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina is more to your taste.



She was majestic in flight and slow enough for my camera.

Catalina flying

Catalina flying

At one point there were four Spitfires and a Hurricane in the air. Here’s just one Spitfire and below a Spit and the Hurricane – CORRECTION – 2 Spits (the second with the squarer wings is a later version).DSCN6454IMG_0565There were many, many highlights in the day, but I particularly  enjoyed the WWI re-enactment using replica planes. These included the 1912 designed, Royal Aircraft Factory BE2; 2 Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a (1917 design) ; 2 Fokker DR1 (1917 design); a Sopwith Triplane (1916 design); and 2 Junkers CL1(1917 design). They appeared over the horizon, having  been flown from another display in Southampton.


DSCN6471 DSCN6473 DSCN6474




The show ended with an exciting display from an Avro Vulcan and two Hawker Siddeley Gnats. IMG_0730IMG_0732  IMG_0733

There were scores more planes. They taxied up, posed in front of where we were standing, then took off. There was always one, or many, flying at any one time.

The following day, when we were not able to attend, there was a much anticipated visit from a Canadian Lancaster. This plane, Avro Lancaster B Mk X, is one of only two that are airworthy. We hoped it would fly over our house at some time in its display, but we were disappointed (though the Red Arrows flew dramatically over our heads), so here is a far better picture from the Duxford Air Show catalogue. Avro Lancastercopy

And that’s it folks. We had a wonderful and very noisy time. I’ve probably misnamed an aeroplane here or there, so feel free to tell me. And if that seems like a lot of bad photos of aeroplanes, there are another 300 odd…

I did sneak off during the show to revisit the Burma War gallery, where there was a small exhibition of relics from Far East POWs, including some paintings of the POWs at work by Jack Chalker and others. I will return to the POW story – probably after Christmas.

A tiny extra – LeVier Cosmic Wind, Ballerina. One of the original three built in 1947.DSCN6379





22 thoughts on “‘Those Magnificent Men…’

  1. BRILLIANT, Hilary !! – it gives me enormous pleasure on my own account to see your amazing photos; but when I remember how much Stringer would’ve loved them, I just have to sit back and gawp … How you did it, I don’t know; but I admire both your fascination in the subject and your ability with whatever is your camera !!!!

  2. I read that parachutes were available during WW1 but the top brass decided not to make them available to pilots – to strengthen their resolve. Now if they’d been flying themselves . .

  3. As for correcting…

    I worry about the G force. Here’s one for you, Pierre, (a Shorts Tucano).

    I know little about G force and the Shorts Tucano, but more about the Catalina, so you can move that part with the Catalina picture.

    Just a suggestion.

      • They were remember a visit even longer ago with our children, then toddlers. The youngest (18 months?) is famous for remarking, at the sight of a plane with folded wings, “Nenna did it.” Thus ensuring that the blame for damaging an aeroplane would not fall on her.

      • My brother-in-law and I were there one early March day. It was early in the week. The weather was chilly but clear. I doubt that there were more than four dozen visitors. We seemed to have had the whole place to ourselves. What a treat that was.

  4. Great shots Hillary. I remember going inside one of those huge Russian freight planes. The claim was made that a small aeroplane could fly around inside the world’s largest plane. I wasn’t so sure, but it was a big plane.

    • I’ve just added the tiniest aircraft we saw, a LeVier Cosmic Wind (one of only three originally built) called Ballerina. Take-off wight 849 lbs. It zipped about the sky like its namesake, only so fast I couldn’t get any decent shots. You might have been buzzed by that indie a freight plane.

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