2021 marks the 75th Anniversary of the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk, a type held in high regard by many as the aircraft that gave them their first experience of flying and where they started their aviation career. Following on from a very successful Chipmunk 75th Anniversary fly-in hosted at Old Warden in May, the Shuttleworth Collection’s second evening air display of the year was dedicated to the ‘Chippie’ and its predecessor, the De Havilland Moth.
Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography by the author.
Mid-June should be the perfect time to host an evening air display at Old Warden with some of the longest daylight hours of the year. Unfortunately, the ‘Spanish Plumes’ typical of this time of year had different ideas carpeting much of southern England in a thick overcast with occasional light rain for much of the weekend. However, the overcast didn’t stop the Shuttleworth Collection presenting a very fine celebration of the Chipmunk and de Havilland with the flying continuing right into the twilight.
The flying was opened as it is on many occasions by flypasts the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. For the first time this year, Hawker Hurricane IIc PZ865 appeared in public in its new matt black night fighter scheme. It was flown by new BBMF Fighter pilot Group Captain Matt Peterson OBE who was displaying in publc for the first time flying alongside OC BBMF Sqn Ldr Mark Discombe in the Spitfire XVIe TE331.
The line-up of de Havilland Chipmunks brought together for the flying display covered many of the different configurations and military operators of the type. Opening the display was perhaps one of the more extreme versions of the Chipmunk with a solo display by Richard Ellingworth in Saltby Gliding Club’s de Havilland Supermunk ‘Bumble Bee.’ This lycoming powered conversion was originally produced for agricultural work with a raised single seat cockpit but has found a second role as a glider-tug. The focus then switched to military operators of the Chipmunk T10 with John Dodd flying a silver RAF example leading Simon Tilling flying his ex-Army Air Corps ‘Chippie.’ The Royal Navy was not left out either with the NavyWings aircraft which was seen on the ground during the day. This was the aircraft’s first public appearance since its switch to the civilian register earlier this month.
The highlight of the anniversary celebrations was a balbo of Chipmunks. This was opened by the Red Sparrows display team flying a series of four-ship passes in various formations over Old Warden. Alongside the three UK military specification Chipmunks was the de Havilland Canada DHC-1B-2-S5 Chipmunk from Vintage Fabrics making its first public appearance at an airshow. This is Europe’s only airworthy example of a Canadian built Chipmunk with its distinctive bubble canopy and large retractable landing light. Under the skin it is very different aircraft from the UK examples with different systems designed around Canada’s harsh climate. Following their own display, the Red Sparrows joined with the Shuttleworth Collection’s own Chipmunk plus the aircraft from the Vintage Pair team for a balbo of seven aircraft for a series of passes along the crowdline. Later in the Evening, the Vintage Pair also gave their fine display of close formation flying and opposition passes while the Shuttleworth Collection example participated in the Barnstorming display and in a short tailchase with the Collection’s Miles Magister.
Alongside the Chipmunk, it was good to see a large selection of the de Havilland Moth lineage take part in the displays. A highlight of the moth gathering was a trio of de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moths all wearing the colour scheme of the Central Flying School aerobatic team from the 1930’s. The Collection’s own Tiger Moth has worn these colours for many years and this is thought to be the first time three Tiger Moths wearing this scheme has been brought together for a flying display since their in-service days.
The de Havilland Moth family also included enclosed cabin aircraft designed for executive travel as well as commercial aviation. This was celebrated by a delightful tailchase led by Mark Miller in the de Havilland DH83 Fox Moth who led a DH80A Puss Moth and DH85 Leopard Moth. More Moth biplanes closed the flying display in the inky twilight with a four-ship of de Havilland DH60G Moth Major, a pair of DH82a Tiger Moths and the DH82b Queen Bee.
Aside from the Chipmunks and Moths, a standout display came from the Miles Gemini flown by Stuart Blanchard who really showed off the type’s agility and elegant lines along the Old Warden crowdline. The poor weather did force the cancellation of the World War One and Edwardian aircraft from the flying programme, but the Collection still put on a very full list of home favourite displays including the Barnstorming routine plus the trio of de Havilland DH88 Comet, Miles Hawk Speed Six and Percival Mew Gull. Other types to venture into the air were the EON Primary and Fauvel AV26 gliders, the Supermarine Spitfire Vc, Westland Lysander, Gloster Gladiator Percival Provost and Avro Tutor.
Despite the relatively poor weather, it was a surprisingly full and enjoyable display thanks to the tireless efforts of all the pilots and support crews. Hopefully the displays later in the year will some better and more summer-like conditions!