NHS Spitfire to lead Battle of Britain commemorations at annual Duxford air show

PUBLISHED: 14:14 01 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:38 02 September 2020

The 'Thank U NHS' Spitfire. Picture: John Davies

The 'Thank U NHS' Spitfire. Picture: John Davies

John Davies

The NHS Spitfire will headline this month’s extended Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show.

The 80th anniversary Battle of Britain show will run from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20 at the IWM site in Cambridgeshire.

This year’s socially distanced three-day show, including the opening Friday’s new proms event, will combine nostalgic flying formations with contemporary, awe-inspiring aerobatic displays.

Acts scheduled to fly include the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Spitfire Balbo, the RAF’s Red Arrows, and the Blades, as well as a unique appearance from the NHS Spitfire.

To mark 80 years since the RAF defeated the Luftwaffe in the 1940 aerial campaign, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be showcasing a new Dowden formation with an Avro Lancaster, a Hawker Hurricane and three Supermarine Spitfires.

The Aircraft Restoration Company’s Spitfire Mk.PRXI PL983 ‘L’, a former reconnaissance aircraft which has recently been touring the country’s hospitals in tribute to the NHS, will also be gracing the skies.

The blue Spitfire has ‘Thank U NHS’ painted on the underside of its wings.

Phil Hood, the IWM’s air show event manager, said: “We’ve been working tirelessly with the local authorities to ensure that we have all the measures in place to make this event COVID-secure and prioritise the safety of visitors, staff and volunteers.

“We encourage those attending to read our COVID-19 Response Page on our website which outlines all the operational measures in place including test and trace procedures, mandatory mask-wearing when indoors, the appointment of a designated social distance team, and thorough cleaning in all areas.”

A Battle of Britain Air Show at IWM Duxford wouldn’t be complete without a re-enacted dog fight between a Hispano Buchón, Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfires.

The scheduled flying list at Britain’s best-preserved Second World War airfield will feature three of the world’s four remaining Mark 1 Spitfires, including the Dunkirk evacuation veteran, the Spitfire N3200, and culminate with a traditional Spitfire Balbo.

Hood continued: “We’re thrilled to be inviting old favourites back to the Battle of Britain Air Show, and to welcome more modern acts to the skies.

“Although this is a step away from our usual September format, we see this as an opportunity to support the aviation industry when most of the year’s air shows were sadly cancelled.

“We would also like to thank all of our flying partners at IWM Duxford for preparing their aircraft especially for the event, which we’re confident won’t disappoint!”

At Friday, September 18’s new Duxford Battle of Britain Proms, the de Havilland DH-9 E8894 will make a rare appearance following its discovery in an Indian fortress, and remarkable restoration by the Historical Aircraft Collection.

Other First World War-era aircraft include the Great War Display team, combining perfectly choreographed aerial battles with showstopping pyrotechnics.

For thrill-seeking visitors, the Blades promise to deliver a high-octane performance with close formation aerobatics.

On Friday only, air show favourites the AeroSuperBatics wingwalkers will showcase daring mid-air acrobatics and flying synchronisation, while the Fireflies Aerobatic Display team boast wingtip pyrotechnics and dazzling coloured LED lighting.

On the ground, visitors will be transported back to the 1940s with vintage fairground activities and market stalls, military vehicle displays, bunting workshops, flight line walks and plenty of music and dancing.

The Duxford Battle of Britain Proms will also host concerts by The D-Day Darlings and The FlyBoys.

Since reopening on August 1, IWM Duxford has installed a number of social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety of all visitors, staff and volunteers.

Visit the Coronavirus FAQs page on the IWM website at www.iwm.org.uk/airshows/faqs/covid-19 for a full list of changes to this year’s air show, including the cancellation of the Grandstand Experience, and social distancing measures.

Tickets are available in advance only, priced from £37 for adults.

For the most up-to-date flying schedule, visit the IWM website at www.iwm.org.uk.

The line-up is subject to change and all confirmed flying is subject to weather and serviceability on the day.


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