Aeroplane September 2017

(Brent) #1


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, Key Publishing Ltd,
PO Box 100, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 1XQ, UK


HE 60th anniversary of
the founding of what
became the Battle of
Britain Memorial Flight was
celebrated at RAF Coningsby
on 11 July in the presence of
some 60 World War Two RAF
veterans and HRH the Duke of
Cambridge, patron of the
fl ight and honorary air
commandant of the
Lincolnshire base.
It was on 11 July 1957 that
three Supermarine Spitfi re
PRXIXs, PM631, PS853 and
PS915, were fl own from RAF
Duxford to Biggin Hill, where
they joined Hawker Hurricane
IIc LF363 to become the RAF
Historic Aircraft Flight.
Following the acquisition from
the Air Historical Branch of
Avro Lancaster I PA474 during

1973, the unit’s name was
changed to the Battle of
Britain Memorial Flight
During the celebrations the
BBMF fl ew a commemorative
Lancaster/two-Spitfi re/
two-Hurricane ‘Thompson’
formation named in honour of
Wg Cdr Peter Thompson DFC,
who was primarily responsible
for the formation of the
Historic Aircraft Flight while he
was station commander at
Biggin Hill in 1957. After
gaining his wings during the
summer of 1940 at the age of
20, on 21 September that year
Thompson was posted to No
32 Squadron at Croydon fl ying
Hurricanes. He damaged three
Messerschmitt Bf 109s during
October/November, and a

Dornier Do 17 on 21 March

  1. During a distinguished
    career in the Mediterranean
    theatre Thompson shot down
    a Macchi MC200 and two
    Savoia-Marchetti SM79s, and
    damaged several other enemy
    aircraft. In July 1944 he took
    command of No 129 Squadron
    at Ford, Sussex fl ying North
    American Mustangs, and
    destroyed three V1 fl ying
    bombs and damaged two
    others. Thompson stayed on
    in the RAF after the war,
    retiring in September 1975.
    For the 60th anniversary,
    Hurricane IIc LF363 and
    Spitfi re IIa P7350 have been
    painted with the codes worn
    by the aircraft of four surviving
    Battle of Britain pilots. The
    starboard side of the Spitfi re

wears the QV-E codes of Ken
Wilkinson’s No 19 Squadron
machine, with Geoffrey
Wellum’s No 92 Squadron
markings, QJ-G, on the port
side. The Hurricane has the
SD-A codes as worn on the No
501 Squadron aircraft fl own by
Paul Farnes on the starboard
side, with GN-F, representing
Tom Neil’s No 249 Squadron
aeroplane, to port.
Sqn Ldr Andy Millikin, offi cer
commanding the BBMF,
commented: “This is an
opportunity that will not be
available forever, so we have
seized the chance to
commemorate some of the
remaining ‘Few’ in this way. It
is an overt way of our
generation thanking theirs for
their sacrifi ces.”

BBMF marks 60th anniversary

ABOVE: Spitfi re IIa P7350 and Hurricane IIc LF363 showing their new codes off the coast near Dover on 9 July. RICHARD PAVER TOP RIGHT: The
Duke of Cambridge shaking hands with Henry Townsley, a former No 97 Squadron Lancaster fl ight engineer, during the BBMF 60th anniversary
celebration at Coningsby. MoD BOTTOM RIGHT: Wg Cdr Peter Thompson DFC in Spitfi re XVI TE330 at Biggin Hill in the late 1950s.

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