One reason a lot of Warbird enthusiasts attend Duxford is that it is the best place in the world to see the Supermarine Spitfire, both in numbers and in terms of rarity of the versions present.
This year 12 Supermarine Spitfires participated in the Flying program at Duxford – 11 from the Airfield and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight MK356 (Mk LFIXe). Sadly, two others could not attend due to bad weather in the case of the Max Alpha Aviation-Meiermotors Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk VIIIc Serial 6S/583793 – D-FEUR (G-BKMI) which was socked in along with their Corsair and P51. The Supermarine Seafire Mk.XVII of Kennet Aviation was unserviceable, so it too was a no show.
The positive aspect was the attendance of no less than 4 Supermarine Mk 1 Spitfires (N3200, P7308, P9374 and X4650). The entire world population of airworthy Mk 1 Spits and all based at Duxford. It is worth noting that all 4 aircraft are apparently for sale, so there is a possibility that there will never be a formation of all 4 in the air again at one time – a one off event possibly.
Supermarine Spitfire ‘roll call’
Also in attendance was Richard Lake’s all silver Spitfire Mk FR.XVIIIe SM845 which flew again last year following a full rebuild at Duxford.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb BM957 (G-MKVB), of the Historic Aircraft Collection (Duxford) was also a flyer on the day and put on its usual polished performance in her magnificent RAF (Polish) 317 Squadron markings.
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk.Vb Spitfire EP120 (G-LFVB)of the Fighter Collection (Duxford) has been flying out of Duxford since its restoration in 1995 and is a real contrast to most of the other Spits on the program in that it features the low altitude clipped wings, which to my eye are very attractive and a little brutish.
Supermarine Spitfire IX MH434 of The Old Flying Machine Company (Duxford) is perhaps the most famous of flying Spitfires of all time (at least in the UK) having been the mount of the famous Hanna’s (Mark and Ray) and has taken roles in numerous films and advertisements. It is flown in the authentic RAF 222 Sqn codes ZD-B. It displayed beautifully as always.
Spitfire LF Mk XVIe TD248 in 74 Squadron 2nd TAF Markings Coded CR-S, owned by Tom Blair and operated by Spitfires Ltd. and maintained by The Aircraft Restoration Company looked immaculate and being a ‘Bubble Canopy’ Mk is a stark contrast to the majority of the Spitfires with their high back fuselages. This aircraft used to feature a Sliver and Red scheme which was also very fetching. I particularly enjoyed the display this aircraft put on, accompanied with the desert finished Buchon.
The ‘Grace’ Spitfire ML407 A Tr Mk IX has great significance for Australians as it is owned and often flown by Australian expatriate Carolyn Grace and has not flown at Legends much in the past so I was very happy see her at Duxford where it flew well in the formations.
The Russell Aviation Group’s Spitfire is a Mark IX serial MK912 and was the last of the Spits to fly from Duxford on the day. Finished in D-Day markings, as were several of the other aircraft, she certainly looked very attractive in the formations.
Spitfire MK356 (Mk LFIXe) of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is painted to represent Spitfire Mk IXc ML214, coded ‘5J-K’, the personal aircraft of Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Plagis, the Commanding Officer of No 126 Squadron from July 1944. This aircraft accompanied the BoB HF Lancaster and did not participate in the 11 ship Spitfire flypast or the “Tail Chase” Spitfire displays nor did it land. It did however, put on a spirited solo display and several flypasts with the Lancaster.
The Spitfires put on a fantastic formation display with a series of group flypasts with the Mk 1 aircraft maintaining a very nice box formation to the great appreciation of the large crowd.
Following this, the Spitfires broke up and performed the textbook Duxford “tail chase” following each other in some dramatic routines.
Once back on the ground all the Spitfires were applauded by the crowd and the sound of cameras being operated was almost as loud as the aircraft.
At the completion of Legends 2014, the usual Balbo formation featured the 7 non-Mk1 Spitires in the Grand Finale.
Warbirds Online will certainly be attending more Legends Airshows, but the Spitfire content at the Duxford Flying Legends Airshow of 2014 may be very hard to surpass.
© John Parker 2014