The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Summer 2017 has been even busier than usual for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF). On top of the display season, we held a big celebration for our 60th Anniversary which included our patron, The Duke of Cambridge, meeting many of our wonderful veterans.

To mark the anniversary, the new ‘Thompson Display’ has been used this season. This features the arrival of the Lancaster and four fighters, followed by a unique four-ship sequence with the fighters. This section includes close formation, tail-chasing and elements of the synchronised display.  It was named after Wg Cdr (later Gp Capt) Peter Thompson DFC, who was the man responsible for setting up the Flight 60 years ago.

The Lancaster is looking wonderful after her ‘major’ servicing at Duxford. Those months that she was away seemed very long, but she came back in fabulous condition and is a welcome sight back in the sky.

To honour some of our veterans, several of our aircraft have been repainted in the markings and colours of aircraft they flew. The Lancaster has the colours of 460 Squadron on the left-hand side. Dave Fellowes, who was an air gunner with 460 Sqn, sadly passed away early this summer, but he did get to see the new paintwork on a visit to Duxford during maintenance. On the right are 50 Squadron markings with VN-T for Tommy. John Tait, who was the wireless operator on this aircraft, is the last surviving member of this crew which was skippered
by OC BBMF’s grandfather, Doug Millikin.

This year, our Mk IIa Spitfire P7350 bears the markings of two of the remaining Few; Geoff Wellum and Ken Wilkinson. (Sadly, Ken passed away later this summer. OC BBMF said: “Ken was a larger-than-life character and a fighter pilot of whom we were extremely fond. We are so pleased he came to the BBMF’s 60th Anniversary on 11th July, where he met The Duke of Cambridge again and had his photo taken next to Spitfire P7350, which has been painted on the starboard side with the code letters ‘QV-E’ to commemorate the 19 Sqn Spitfire that he flew during the Battle of Britain. As the Few become fewer, we are proud and honoured to count him as a friend. He will not be forgotten.”) Our Hurricane LF363 is similarly marked with the letters of Tom Neil and Paul Farnes, both Hurricane pilots in the Battle.

Spitfire MK356 is now painted to represent Spitfire Mk IXC EN152 ‘QJ-3’ which was operated by No 92 Squadron alongside the unit’s Mk Vs in Tunisia in 1943. In its desert camouflage colour scheme, MK356 commemorates the hard-fought and ultimately successful war in the deserts of North Africa, and honours the heroic pilots and stoic ground crews of the Desert Air Force and of 92 Squadron
in particular.

Aircraft colours and markings are not the only new features this summer.  Arrivals include Sqn Ldr Colin Bostrom (Navigator), Sqn Ldr Luke Waskett-Booth (SEngO), CT Tim Davies (Trg Stds), Cpls Chris Rooker and ‘Oscar’ Wild (engineering) and Helen Fearn

Meanwhile, it’s ‘Thank you’ to those who have left or are about to leave at the end of the season: Flt Lt Anthony Parkinson, SAC(T) Kris Shimmin, Cpl Carlos Broomhead and Angie Duarge.

“Lest We Forget”