The last air show of the season for Britain will be the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) Autumn Air Show this coming Sunday ( October 14) at Duxford with a number of “thrilling” displays to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Merlin-engine Mustang. That first flight was a pivotal moment in aviation history that began thanks to events at RAF Duxford.
The story there begins during World War II when the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) was based at RAF Duxford where it provided technical intelligence to the RAF, developed operational tactics and tested captured enemy aircraft. Wing Commander Ian Campbell-Orde, Commanding Officer of the AFDU at RAF Duxford, had called Ronnie Harker, a Rolls-Royce service-liaison pilot, to start the sequence of events leading to the Mustang aircraft and the Rolls-Royce engine being combined.
Harker was offered the chance to fly one of the new Allison-engine Mustangs that had recently arrived at RAF Duxford (which he did on April 30, 1942) and he was impressed with its maneuverability, speed and agility but he also thought that combining it with Merlin 61 would lead to even more outstanding results.
Ultimately and after subsequent visits by Rolls-Royce personnel and coordination with the American Embassy, North American Aviation (the aircraft manufacturer making the Mustang) and the Air Ministry, the first aircraft was assigned for conversion and the rest is history.
With that in mind, a major highlight of the IWM Duxford air show will be a display by P-51Mustang Ferocious Frankie alongside Spitfire IX from the Old Flying Machine Company – aircraft equipped with the Merlin engines. Also flying will be North American TF-51 Mustang Miss Velma from The Fighter Collection.
Displays worth highlighting will include the Black Cats Lynx Pair from 702 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, the Apache helicopter from the Army Air Corps at RAF Wattisham, BAE Systems Hawk from 208 Squadron at RAF Valley, Shorts Tucano from the Central Flying School Flight at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Beechcraft King Air from 45 Squadron at RAF Cranwell and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Douglas DC-3 Dakota. In addition, there will also be displays by B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B, North American F-86 Sabre, two Spitfires, two Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and a Goodyear Corsair.
IWM Duxford will be open from 8 am to 6 pm with the flying display scheduled to start at 1.30 pm and finish at around 4.30 pm. For more information, call 01223 499353 or visit the Imperial War Museum’s website here. However, advance ticket booking is now closed but tickets will be available on the day of the event (Click here for the prices). There is also an Air Show app with the latest information plus a library of over 100 aircraft that can be downloaded here.