In spite of very trying weather conditions, the first day of IWM Duxford’s Battle of Britain Air Show, held over the weekend of 22-23 September, presented the largest close formation of Supermarine Spitfires seen in the modern era.
A total of 18 examples of R. J. Mitchell’s classic fighter flew together, while the IWM’s Spitfire Ia N3200, in the hands of John Romain, performed aerobatics to fill the gap as the formation got together. The previous record was 17, set at Duxford’s Battle of Britain 75th anniversary display in September 2015. Due largely to crosswinds, Sunday’s formation was reduced to 13.
The aircraft and pilots involved were as follows:
Spitfire IX MH434 — Old Flying Machine Company — Brian Smith
Spitfire Ia AR213 — Comanche Fighters — Pete Kynsey
Spitfire Ia X4650 – Comanche Fighters — Anna Walker
Spitfire V EP120 — The Fighter Collection — Stu Goldspink
Spitfire V BM597 — Historic Aircraft Collection — Charlie Brown
Spitfire V JG891 — Comanche Fighters — Dave Ratcliffe
Spitfire V EE602 — Anglia Aircraft Restorations — Jon Gowdy
Spitfire V AR501 — Shuttleworth Collection — ‘Dodge’ Bailey
Spitfire VIII MV154 — MaxAlpha Aviation — Maxi Gainza
Spitfire IX TD314 — Aero Legends — Antony Parkinson
Spitfire IXT PV202 — Aircraft Restoration Company — Lars Ness
Spitfire IXT PT462 — Aircraft Restoration Company — Jim Schofield
Spitfire IXT NH341 — Aero Legends — Martin Overall
Spitfire XI PL983 — Aircraft Restoration Company — Sean Perrett
Spitfire XI PL965 — Hangar 11 Collection — Peter Teichman
Spitfire XIV MV293 — Anglia Aircraft Restorations — Alex Smee
Spitfire XVI TD248 — Spitfire Ltd — Chris Carder
Spitfire XVIII SM845 — Spitfire Ltd — Cliff Spink
Spitfires aside, the sell-out crowd was able to enjoy the largest gathering of historic RAF aircraft seen in a single flying display during the service’s centenary year, while present-day involvement included the last ever airshow appearance by an RAF Tornado GR4 before the type is retired early next year. For a full report on the event, see the November issue of Aeroplane, out in mid-October.