IWM Duxford’s second Showcase Day of the year was badly affected by some very un-summer like weather. Fortunately, it was not a total wipe-out with a small group of flying displays set against very grey and damp skies.
Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography by the author.
The second Showcase Day of the year for IWM Duxford should have been a joint-exercise with the historic Stow Maries Aerodrome in Essex with both sites sharing some display acts. Sadly, a rapidly encroaching area of persistent rain put paid to that. It was a great shame as not only was the Showcase a big boost for Stow Maries which has only opened for a few days, but also Duxford had welcomed a larger audience for its second event.
Considering the weather, it was little surprise that many of the planned outside static displays were kept within the hangars for the day. One of the highlights that should have been flying was the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hawker Hurricane XII. 2020 is not just the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, but also the formation of many of the famous Polish and Czech squadrons. HAC have already been commemorating the sacrifice of the Polish squadrons with both its Spitfire Vb and Hurricane XII under the guise of the Polish Heritage Flight. However, they have recently changed the markings of their Hurricane to represent the aircraft of Czechoslovak pilot Josef František DFM & Bar, who flew as part of the Polish 303 Squadron during the Battle. Josef was one of the most successful pilots of the Battle with 17 aircraft shot down and a further probable kill during September 1940. He often clashed with his superiors and famously peeled away from his squadron once they were launched for his own lone patrols over Southern England. He was killed in October 1940 when his Hurricane crashed near Ewell in Surrey.
Opening the flying displays that did take place was Robert Tyrell’s North American P-51D Mustang ‘Miss Helen.’ This Mustang flew with 352 Fighter Group ‘The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney’, during the Second and has several confirmed kills to her name. She has recently become a regular sight on the airshow circuit again following a few difficult years and was expertly displayed under the overcast at Duxford by pilot John Dodd.
Following on from ‘Miss Helen’ were a couple of items which had also appeared at the at the first showcase with the de Havilland DH89a Dragon Rapide flown by Mark Miller and the North American Harvard IV flown by Andy Goodall. Peter Kuypers and Pete Kynsey both taxied out in their Yakovlev Yak-50 and Le Vier Cosmic Wind but sadly the weather closed in before they could display.
It was a great shame weather scuppered the showcase. It seemed to have attracted a larger audience. Hopefully the weather will be kinder next month for Duxford’s Battle of Britain Weekend next month.