Based at the former WWII RAF fighter station of North Weald airfield in Kent, the Hangar 11 collection is home to four vintage aircraft owned by the renowned airshow display pilot Peter Teichman. With the Supermarine Spitfire and Curtiss Kittyhawk in deep winter maintenance the Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB and P51 Mustang were to be the stars of the show for this night photoshoot.
Entering the airfield and taking a wide right hand circle round the perimeter road and taxiway (at one point joined by a couple of light aircraft on the way to the main runway) you eventually come to Hanger 11 on the far side of the airfield. This was to be the base for tonights shoot. The weather was kind with an unseasonably warm day and clear skies offering ideal conditions.
First up was a briefing from Neil Cave who’s Timeline Events were running the shoot and an introduction from Peter himself. There were to be an engine run from each aircraft at dusk and cameos with the re-enactors before and afterwards. The main runway was also active until 7pm so any trips to the site cafe which had kindly stayed open had to be back round the perimeter road for now.
The Mustang was pulled out and positioned with its front wheels just on the tarmac to avoid it getting stuck in the soft ground later. The trees at the edge of the airfield and almost clear blue skies behind provided an ideal backdrop. Delivered to USAAF in 1944, P51 Mustang “Jumpin Jacques” was shipped to Italy for the final few months of WWII with the 332nd Fighter Group. After the war she was returned to the United States and placed into storage before finally being sold to Whiteman Enterprises in 1957. After 24 years with Whiteman Enterprises she spent a further 8 years in South America before being exported to France in 1989 where she was owned and operated by Jacques Bourret who gave her the name “Jumpin Jacques” after seeing a photo of a Mustang named “Jumpin Jacques flown by Lt Jacque E Young of the 3rd Fighter Squadron.
After some initial cameos scenes featuring pilots and military police complete with Harley Davidson motorcycle and military jeep it was time for a test run of the Mustang’s engine. She hadn’t been run for several weeks so Peter jumped into the pilot seat and after some initial reluctance she fired into live and gave us in preview of what was to come later.
Scenes were then split between the two Hanger 11 aircraft with the Hurricane sat on the pan just outside the hanger. One of only twelve airworthy Hurricanes in the world and the only flying example restored to stock Mk IIB fighter-bomber status, Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB BE505 was built by the Canadian Car & Foundry Company factory in 1942 and delivered to the Royal Canadian Airforce in February of that year. After the war she was was sold off to the private sector before landing in the hands of private collecters in the 1970’s. Returning to the UK and initially stored as a future personal project, restoration work began in earnest in 2005 at the Hawker Restorations Ltd’s facility in Suffolk before being acquired by Hangar 11 Collection in 2007. Restoration was complete and her maiden post restoration flight was in January 2009 in the markings of BE505, a Manston based Mk IIB operated by 174 (Mauritius) Squadron in spring, 1942
After a break to allow time for the sun to set (and a great shot of the Mustang as the sun went down behind it) it was time for the first scheduled engine run of the evening. With the photographers positioned in an arch in front of her, the Hurricane was fired up as the goldern hour turned in to the blue hour, giving a fantastic backdrop behind her. Before she was put away there was time for more cameos with pilots and ground crew.
It was then the turn of the Mustang who was moved into the same position as the Hurricane and fired up, spitting out small wisps of blue flames from the exhaust stacks as the rev’s were increased. Once everyone had a chance to photograph her from various positions the engines fell silent to a round of applause and there was just time for a few group photos of the reenactors and Peter and his engineers who had kindly given their time up to support the event before the evening drew to a close at 9pm.