The Victory Show is billed as the largest WWII event in the UK and as well as plenty of heavy metal on the ground in the form of tanks and military vehicles it also features a very impressive air display centred around a makeshift airstrip created to the eastern side of the site based on Foxlands Farm in Leicestershire.
This year was the 10th anniversary and the airshow featured a good selection of WWII aircraft in some excellent formations. Sadly the highlight on the Sunday was to be one of the last displays from the Vulcan but a technical fault with the nose wheel leg strut on the Saturday afternoon caused the display to be cancelled and the Vulcan returned directly to Doncaster from Preswick. Despite this (or because a lot of the attendees had not heard the news about the Vulcan) the show was very busy with stories of people queuing over an hour to get in from mid morning. Another good reason to arrive early and watch the fly in which takes place from about 10am with the M108 buzzing the airfield before landing and the two Mustangs taking off to display elsewhere before returning for the main display. Most of the fly in activity takes place between 10:30 and 11:30am.
From 12:30 the airfield is closed to traffic and model aircraft provide a flying display which also provides an opportunity for a flight line walk for £3. The static line up featured many of the displaying aircraft and a rare opportunity to get very close to the superbly restored Bristol Blenheim Mk.1F. Somewhat ahead of schedule the Mitchell B-25 which had travelled from its Holland base especially for the event also made a couple of high level fly overs during lunch time.
Attention then switches to the battlefield for the land reenactment battle with the Hispano Buchon representing a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Yak-3 dog fighting over the battle. I gave the battle a miss this year keen to keep my spot on the crowd line for the airshow. Being at the south end of the crowd line nearest the battlefield I got a great view of their display although photography back into the sun were very difficult. Once attention moved back to the first of the two airshow segments the runway is ideally placed to the east of the crowd line meaning the sun is behind you for the display.
After the battle a pair of Piper L4H Cubs flow a reconnaissance mission over the battlefield as a transition into the first segment of the flying display. Split into two flying segments with a 30 mins break in between to allow people parked in the sterile car parks under the display area to return to their cars, the first flying display was from the Trig aerobatic display team in a pair of Pitts Special S-1D Biplanes in the distractive yellow and purple colour scheme.
The highlight of this year’s show was surely the unique and interesting formations put together by the Flying Display Director. First was the formation of the Dutch based North American B25 Mitchell bomber and a pair of Mustangs in the shape of P51 Mustang G-MSTG “Janie” and P-51D-5NA Mustang G-MRLL 44-13521 (5Q-B) Marinell from the Hardwich Warbirds collection. The Mustangs then left the Mitchell to perform a solo display.
Next up was Victory Show regular B-17 Sally B signing off its display with its signature engine smoking fly past. This was then followed by the second formation of the Bristol Blenheim and Hawker Hurricane R4118, the last flying Hurricane from the Battle of Britain. After the display the Blenheim landed, took its salute as it taxied along the runway before turning to take off again and depart. This was a nice touch and a second chance to capture those take off shots.
Although billed for both days Classic Air Force’s Gloster Meteor only displayed on the Sunday and with the loss of the Vulcan was the solo cold war jet on display. It put in a sterling display under the new CAA restrictions for classic jets but never the less its silver fuselage looked outstanding against the clear blue sky.
The finally to the aerial show was one of the first outings of Air Leasing Supermarine Seafire LF III G-BUARPP972 in the colours of 880 Sqdn, Fleet Air Arms HMS Implacable flying alongside the Grace Spitfire ML407 flown by Richard Grace. This was a fantastic end to a well put together display and at £17.50 this is a bargain for the airshow alone. Whilst it would have been amazing to see the Vulcan appear over the hilltop and fly over the battlefield with rumours of pyrotechnics it was sadly not to be but never the less the combination of rare aircrafts and unique formations made this a memorable show.
For those not in a rush to leave you are treated to departures as most of the aircraft leave fairly soon after the end of the flying display.