Bristol Blenheim I -  Image © Jarrod Cotter

Bristol Blenheim I – Image © Jarrod Cotter

A mass flypast of warbirds will form the centrepiece of official commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo.

Featuring around 20 vintage aircraft, including some of the most exceptional historic aircraft flying in the UK today, the tribute forms part the Air Tattoo’s broader theme Securing the Skies — Past, Present & Future.

Confirmed at present as taking part are: a Bristol Blenheim, five Hawker Hurricanes, 12 Supermarine Spitfires (including a naval Seafire) and a Hispano Buchón to depict the Messerschmitt Bf 109. A number of other aircraft are still to be confirmed.

The Blenheim, operated by the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, is the world’s sole airworthy example of this significant World War Two type. It returned to flight last November after repairs and reconfiguration lasting 11 years, the aircraft now appearing as a short-nosed Blenheim IF fighter variant. Blenheims made the first RAF bombing raid against Germany during World War Two, and in 1940 were active extensively in both the fighter and bomber roles. The example attending the Air Tattoo on July 17-19 pays tribute to the notable heroism of Blenheim crews who flew the type on so many fronts.

Among the other aircraft involved will be four that were actually operational during 1940. Peter Vacher’s Hurricane I flew 49 sorties and shot down five enemy aircraft during its time on No 605 Squadron; the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfire IIa was with No 266 Squadron; Aircraft Restoration Company-operated Spitfire Ia P9374 force-landed on a northern French beach while flying with No 92 Squadron in May 1940; and, also from the ARC stable, Spitfire Ia N3200 — then of No 19 Squadron — did likewise just a few days later while covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.

Accompanying these will be a range of other Hurricanes and Spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and civilian operators, several of them combat veterans from later in the war.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: “The sight of so many historic Battle of Britain-era aircraft in formation is sure to be a highlight of this year’s Air Tattoo, and a memorable contribution to this year’s commemorations. Our thanks go to all the operators who have agreed to take part in what we intend to be a fitting, as well as a spectacular, salute.”