Warbird Tails Looking Back – Cosford and Biggin Hill

Another week and time for another look back at years gone by. This weekend is tied in with a number of events. Traditionally it has been home to the Cosford Air Show for many years and in more recent times the revived, smaller scale Biggin Hill shows have taken place this weekend (though this year was due to be a one off weekday Battle of Britain event in August).

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I’ve only managed to attend one Cosford show over the years, the incredible 2018 event to mark the RAFs 100th birthday. This show saw a well thought out, chronological flying programme from the Great War Display Team through to the modern day air force. Throughout this historical account there were plenty of visiting modern military with close ties to the RAF such as the Polish Air Force MIG 29 putting on a powerful solo performance and a memorable formation pass with Anglia Aircraft Restorations Hawker Hurricane.

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Another highlight in that year was the first (and only to date) flying performance away from Duxford for the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Hawker Fury I. This is still the fighter’s only public display at an airshow since 2017 (aside from an appearance at a “Showcase” day at Duxford).

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The Flying Bulls really brought a star item with them for this show with the wonderful Bristol Sycamore putting on a great display.

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Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 2018 show was the sprawling static display. With an RAF 100 theme it would have been easy for organisers to simply rely on the on site RAF Museum. While many of the types outside on public display had been taken from museum hangars but there were also all manner of rare machines either flown in or brought in by road (such as the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre’s Lightning). There were some very rare warbirds found in the static display too, such as the Fighter Collection’s Hawk 75, representing RAF Mohawk fighters and the recently returned P-47D flying in for static in the morning of the show.

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Moving South to Biggin Hill, there have also been plenty of highlights in the last few years. I first attended the new format of Biggin in 2015 which wasn’t blessed with the best weather sadly. This meant that a large number of the planned visiting contingent (largely Duxford based) were unable to make the journey South. Luckily of course there are a wide range of fighters based at Biggin (though a little smaller back then) which put on a great display.

Let’s not forget the impressive Battle of Britain 75 synchro pair of Typhoon and Spitfire MKII. This was the only time I saw the MKII flying in this display which complimented the special scheme on the Typhoon well. The BBMF fighters also delivered a wonderful five ship performance.

Memorable highlights from 2015 included the first non-RIAT appearance for one of the EADS Messerschmitt 109Gs (actually a converted Hispano Buchon). Klaus Plaza flew this machine in wonderful style and put on what to date is the best dogfight demonstration I’ve seen with Dan Griffith flying Spitfire XVI RW382. The 2015 show was brought to a close with a stunning Spitfire pairs display from Paul Bohnomme and Steve Jones.

2016 saw slightly better weather fortunately which meant that the Bristol Blenheim was able to make it down from Duxford which display with, from memory, a very unlikely level of pyrotechnics for one Blenheim to cause! Once again there were great warbird displays with a classic show closing performance from Dan Griffith in the Heritage Hangar Spitfire. This show also featured a rare pair of Spitfires on static display front he Heritage Hangar, the newly reflown Spitfire V EP122 and the rare TVIII MT818.

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A very brief look this week but some great memories to look back on from two wonderful airshow venues!

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