A very special formation took place at Shuttleworth’s June Evening Airshow, and one which enthusiasts had wanted to see happen for a very long time.
UK-based Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B has often been seen with a ‘little friend’ or two flying alongside at airshows, often a Mustang or Thunderbolt, bolstering the image of US fighters escorting B-17s that is so often in the mind’s eye. Very seldom, though, has Sally B flown in formation with other types, certainly in the more recent past, and given that RAF Spitfires often escorted US bombers, this is something many enthusiasts have wanted to see happen at an airshow for some time.
Given, too, that two Spitfire Mk Vs flying in the UK today escorted the 91st Bomb Group and the famous Memphis Belle, whose paint scheme Sally B still represents from her role as the famous aircraft in the 1990 movie, it has been particularly surprising that airshow organisers have overlooked such a potential formation. Thankfully, though, the Shuttleworth Collection identified this as something that needed to happen!
Both the Shuttleworth Collection’s own Mk Vc AR501 and Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ Mk Vc EE602 escorted the 324th Bomb Squadron on numerous occasions. AR501 did so with 310 Sqn and EE602 escorted them on the date of the Memphis Belle’s 25th mission on 17 May 1943 with 129 Sqn. The pair made two passes with the bomber before splitting off and giving centre stage to Sally B, before returning for a spirited tailchase.
Credit must go to the Shuttleworth team for their vision and desire to make the formation happen in the first place and also for all of their hard work behind the scenes and cooperation between aircraft owners, operators and pilots.
Another coup for the show was the first duo display by Hurricanes R4118 and BE505 under the ownership of Hurricane Heritage. Set up in 2015 when James Brown purchased R4118 from long-time owner Peter Vacher, Hurricane Heritage has continued to care for and showcase this unique survivor for the public at airshows ever since. In December 2021 two-seat BE505 was added to the fleet allowing Hurricane Heritage to offer truly unique experiences. The pair were displayed by Stu Goldspink and Mike Colett in an energetic tailchase during a slightly brighter patch of weather!
As the evening progressed, sadly so did the gloom, and Stu Goldspink was up once again, this time in the Fighter Aviation Ltd TF-51D Mustang Contrary Mary.
For more information on upcoming Shuttleworth airshows and to purchase tickets, follow this link: www.shuttleworth.org/events/