Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow 2023

Image via Imperial War Museum

By Charlotte Bailey

Although summer may be drawing to an end, Imperial War Museum Duxford invites aviation enthusiasts to ‘step back into summer 1940’ for the final show of the season at its iconic aerodrome in Cambridgeshire, UK.  

The former RAF site ‘played a leading role in some of the most dramatic days in 20th-century history’, serving as a base for many of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots to serve during the conflict. Its squadrons took to the air twice on ‘Battle of Britain Day’ (15 September 1940) to repel Luftwaffe attacks aimed at London, and from April 1943 was also home to members of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF).  

Re-enactors with aircraft at Duxford’s Battle of Britain Air Show. (photo by Dave Layland)

Paying tribute to their fighting forebears, a multitude of Spitfires and Hurricanes will be participating in a flying program packed with action. Although organizers note they are ‘on the countdown to see just how many Spitfires will join our famous Duxford Spitfire flypast, a spectacle never to be missed,’ several examples of Supermarine’s iconic airframe are already confirmed to be participating. These include IWM’s only airworthy addition to their collection (Spitfire Mk.1a N3200), D-Day Veteran ML407 (‘The Grace Spitfire’) and photo-reconnaissance Mk.XI PL983.  

‘Perhaps the most famous of all Spitfires still flying today’, Mk.IXb MH434, will also feature in the flying program. Built in 1943 and first flown by test pilot Alex Henshaw, she became a favorite of the airshow circuit in the capable hands of Ray Hanna from 1983 and is still flown by the Duxford-based Old Flying Machine Company, which he founded. 

Four Hurricanes will also take to the skies (including the world’s only airworthy two-seater, White Waltham-based Mk.IIb BE505 ‘Pegs’), facing off against two Hispano Buchons. Representing Duxford’s American heritage, two North American Mustangs and a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt will be joined by Europe’s last airworthy B-17 Flying fortress, ‘Sally B’.  

The world’s only airworthy two-seat example of the famous Hurricane. Known as ‘Pegs’, it is named after the wife of Flight Sergeant C. Bryce Watson who flew the original aircraft.

A new arrival to the airshow circuit in 2023 is Lockheed 12A Electra Junior G-AFTL: having completed its first post-restoration flight from Sywell, Northamptonshire, in March of this year, the aircraft is believed to be one of the world’s most historic photo-reconnaissance aircraft still in existence today.  

From the RAF Red Arrows to biplane fighters (such as the Hawker Nimrod and Gloster Gladiator), the show promises something for everyone. Although all flying acts are subject to weather conditions and serviceability on the day, plenty of entertainment will be in full swing on the ground: ranging from live music and entertainment, living history groups, a traditional steam fair, and static vehicle displays. Entry to IWM’s extensive museum collection is also included. Tickets for both days are available in advance and can be purchased via THIS LINK.

Two of the three Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Is on hand at Duxford. (photo by Luigino Caliaro)


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