High flyers finally restored

PUBLISHED: 13:06 06 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 May 2010

Andy Robinson and Gordon Turner

Andy Robinson and Gordon Turner

THE culmination of 10 years work came to a head when three restored historic aircraft were rolled out at the Duxford Imperial War Museum. Former pilots and ground crew of the war-time training aircraft the Miles Magister, Airspeed Oxford and de Havilland

Denis Hallisey and Syd Dumpleton

THE culmination of 10 years work came to a head when three restored historic aircraft were rolled out at the Duxford Imperial War Museum. Former pilots and ground crew of the war-time training aircraft the Miles Magister, Airspeed Oxford and de Havilland Tiger Moth were part of the skilled team of volunteers which has helped staff at Duxford with the restoration. Guests joined the team to witness the unveiling of the recently-restored aircraft, all showing the distinctive "training aircraft" paint-scheme of camouflage and yellow. "It is easy to forget that all the dashing war-time pilots began their flying on aircraft like these," said Frank Crosby, Duxford's head of marketing. "Without these training aircraft, British and Commonwealth pilots would have been unable to graduate to types such as the Spitfire and Lancaster." The Miles Magister was the RAF's main elementary training aircraft during the Second World War and entered service in 1937. It was the first monoplane training aircraft to be used by the RAF and the first new aircraft of all wooden construction to go into service since a decision to accept only metal aircraft had been taken in the 1920s. Duxford's Magister was originally a Hawk Trainer Mk III, the civilian version of the Magister and is the sole surviving example of its type. It was requisitioned by the RAF in September 1940 and joined the collection at Duxford in 1978. The Airspeed Oxford was a versatile aircraft used not only for aircrew training by the RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces during the Second World War, but also for light transport, air ambulance and radio calibration duties. They were also used by civil operators for training and transport purposes until the late 1950s, with a total of 8,751 being built. Duxford's Oxford, G-AHTW, an Oxford II, was built in 1940, but never saw any RAF service. After the war, it was given its current civil registration and operated as a company communications aircraft until 1960 and was the last Oxford in active service. It also came to Duxford in 1978. The de Havilland Tiger Moth was the RAF's basic trainer from 1934 until the late 1940s and nearly all RAF pilots received their initial training on this simple, reliable and fully aerobatic aircraft. Tiger Moths were also versatile, being built in gunnery, bombing and photographic versions, and some were converted to air ambulances. The Tiger Moth was the last biplane trainer used by the RAF, with many going on to be used as civilian trainers, but some conversions were made for crop spraying and passenger transport. Duxford's Tiger Moth, DE998, was built at Morris Motors in Cowley, during the Second World War. The aircraft is painted to represent the Tiger Moth flown by Johnnie Johnson, the highest scoring RAF fighter pilot of the Second World War, when he was training at was is now Cambridge Airport. The Magister, Oxford and Tiger Moth have been restored to be part of Duxford's new £25 million AirSpace exhibition set to be open in 2007.

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