By Nigel Hitchman

June 1, 2024

Duxford D-Day Airshow 2024; Duxford hosted its first major airshow of the season.  It was, however, disrupted by several aircraft being stuck elsewhere in Europe due to weather, and others absent due to maintenance and double bookings.  The weather at Duxford was unseasonably cold with thick clouds and a strong northerly wind which prevented any parachute drops, including the planned mass round canopy jump from the D-Day squadron C-47s.  The crosswinds were also too high for the HAC Hawker Fury which was due to fly with the IWM Spitfire Mk.1 N3200 which would have been a unique pairing.

However, the cloud was fairly high which enabled good displays to be flown, including the debut of Fighter Aviation Engineering CA-18 Mustang JERSEY JERK.  The highlight for many was a rare appearance of the DC-6 and B-25 from the Flying Red Bulls.  Sadly, though the P-38 and F4U-4 remained weathered in back in Salzburg.

A French Air and Space Force Rafale put on an excellent demo which was followed by aerobatic acts by Rich Goodwin’s jet-powered Pitts Special and the Comrades display team with the usual Yak-18T and two Yak 52s joined by a Yak-50.  These high-tempo performances we were followed by more sedate, but no less enjoyable demos by Shuttleworth Collection’s DH88 Comet Racer and a Curtiss formation consisting of the P-36 Hawk and P-40F Warhawk from The Fighter Collection.

Aerosuperbatics flew a pair of Stearman wing-walking acts and put on a good show in the blustery conditions.  This was followed by the Imperial Warplane Museum’s Spitfire Mk.I and then a single pass by B-17G Sally B with JERSEY JERK on its wing, after which they split to perform solo displays.

The Aerial Collective aircraft, Blenheim, P-51D Miss Helen, and Spitfire PR.XI PL983, then departed for another show in Torbay, where another airshow was taking place.  The fighters wore freshly painted Invasion Stripes.  It’s a pity the display appearances couldn’t have been coordinated so we could have seen this unusual formation display.

The Navy Wings Swordfish, which also wore Invasion Stripes, flew in from North Weald to give us a display.  The Swordfish performed a little-known if not slightly debated role in Overlord when they were used to lay down smoke screens to hide ships and to patrol western approaches for U-boats.  This was followed by the Spitfire XIVe MV293 in its post-war Royal Indian Air Force livery.

The finale was the D-Day scenario which started with five Piper L-4 Grasshoppers scouting for targets, calling in attacks by the P-47 and Spitfires MH434 and PV202.  Once the “attack” was completed the trio formed up for a nice formation display.  These were followed by fly-bys by four of the five C-47s/DC-3s from the D-Day Squadron that, at the time, were stationed at North Weald. Lead by Aero Legends G-ANAF Pegasus, included Tunison Foundation’s Placid Lassie, Tim Savage’s Western Airlines DC-3, and C-53 Spirit of Douglas.  The Commemorative Air Force C-47 That’s All Brotherwas also due to take part but ended up doing a flight over the Normandy beaches!

Prior to and after the airshow, a pair of DH89 Dragon Rapides were kept busy giving rides, although in the late morning had to stop due to the crosswind out of limits, which also prevented the usual Tiger Moth rides.