For many decades now, Hangar 2 south (and at times hangar 3 north, at Duxford has been home to some of the rarest and most remarkable warbirds to ever grace the European airshow circuit. The Fighter Collection have provided some of the best memories for warbird fans worldwide with their typically spirited display flying and wide range of impressive machines. They have of course also built on that reputation with the world class airshow in the form of Flying Legends.
2020 brought well document challenges for the airshow world and part of this meant that the Fighter Collection aircraft did not fly at all in 2020 and it was also announced that 2019 would be the last Flying Legends at Duxford. Late on in 2020 it was confirmed that Sywell would be the new home of the Flying Legends show but the Fighter Collection would stay at Duxford. With the promise of Flying Legends in July 2021 the aircraft started to emerge from their extended hibernation as the season got underway.
The first public appearance from the Fighter Collection was at the opening Flying Day at Duxford, with solo routines from their Spitfire V EP120 and Corsair. Brian Smith and Dave Southwood flew typically spirited displays to mark this historic return and it was a great moment of familiarity after the unsettled season of 2020. Being able to enjoy those displays from the tank bank again really added to the magic.
Fast forward to the next Duxford Flying day in early June and the Fighter Collection bookended the show, with Pete Kynsey flying extended routines in both the Wildcat and Corsair showcasing both types to great effect with wonderful aerobatics. As summer went on there would be further displays from the Corsair and Spitfire V, as well as the P-40F and planned appearances for the Hawk 75.
The Collection’s Corsair spent a few weeks in France for the La Ferte and Melun shows (both welcome indications of things slowly coming back to normal) before returning ahead of the Duxford September show. Here the Fighter Collection put on a great show with the Hawk 75, P-40F, Spitfire V, Corsair and Bearcat flying together.
A fitting finale for the Fighter Collection’s season saw the Hawk 75, Spitfire V and Bearcat flying at the final flying day of the year in October. The P-40F was also seen in the air, returning from Sywell after the show. Perhaps the high point and biggest surprise of the Fighter Collection activity in 2021 though was the return of the Hawker Nimrod (pictured below back in 2016). The airframe carried out an air test on the morning of the October flying day before being put through a graceful routine by Pete Kynsey. With the Nimrod having made a public appearance this left only the P-36C and P-40C from the regularly airworthy fleet without public appearances (the P-36C flew later on in the year, so hopefully one to enjoy next year).
2021 saw a great deal of familiarity back within the airshow world and though we are going into another uncertain winter, it certainly was a fantastic boost to see the Fighter Collection back in action across 2021. Here’s to a great 2022.